Alone with God
"I am not alone, because the Father is with me." John 16:32
The Lord Jesus had just been telling his disciples, that they would all forsake him, and leave him to himself. Not one of them would have courage to stand by him. Every one's heart would fail him. Even Peter, who felt so confident, and who said so fearlessly, "I will go with you to prison and to death." Alas! no one knows his weakness, until he is brought into trials. It is the engagement tries the soldier, the storm tries the mariner, and temptation tries the Christian. "You shall leave me alone," said Jesus; "and yet I am not alone; because the Father is with me." His Father had covenanted to be with him. He believed his Father's word, and expected to realize his Father's presence. Believer, you have the same privilege. The father of Jesus is your father. He has given you his word, saying, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So that in all places, at all times, you may say, "I am not alone, because the Father is with me."
Your family and friends may have left you for the house of God. There may be no one in the house but yourself. A solemn stillness reigns. All is quiet around you. There lies your open Bible inviting you to peruse its pages. There is the throne of grace where you are exhorted to meet with God. But you are perhaps thinking of former days, when you went to the house of God in company with beloved relatives and friends; where you enjoyed the ordinances of the gospel, and heartily praised the Lord. But now you are confined at home, a feeling of loneliness comes over you. Before you are aware you sigh, and are ready to say, "O, that it were with me as in times past."
But suppress such feelings, silence such exclamations. It is your Father's will. He appointed that you should spend this Sunday at home, rather than in his house. He has withdrawn you from his people--but it is only to draw you nearer to himself. He is saying, "Come, spend the day with me. We are now alone, tell me all your heart, open all your mind, turn every desire into prayer." You are not alone, no, your Father is with you. Let your thoughts, for a few minutes be taken up with this sweet subject, and consider,
First, WHO is with you."The Father," The Father of Jesus. The Omniscient, the Omnipresent, the all-sufficient God. The God who has said, "The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word." "For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." What wonderful condescension! What amazing grace is this! In your humble dwelling, in your little room, the most high God comes to visit you, comes to commune with you, comes to bless you.
Your Father is with you! He is not only the Father of Jesus--but your Father in Jesus. When about to ascend to heaven, your beloved Savior said to his disciples, "I ascend to my Father, and your Father; to my God and your God." Yes, he is your Father. He adopted you into his family by an act of sovereign grace. He took you from among the strangers, and put you among his children. He has begotten you again to a lively hope. He has sent his Holy Spirit into your hearts. He loves you with a father's love. He treats you as his child. He asks your confidence. He invites your fellowship. He courts familiarity. He says, Will you not from this time call me, my Father?" He directs, When you pray, say, "Our Father." He exhorts, "Come boldly to a throne of grace." Remember then, your Father is with you!
Secondly, WHEN is he with you?Always. Ever. "Lo, I am with you always." But he is more especially with his people at some seasons. In sorrow, in poverty, in sickness, in the hour of death--our Father is especially present with his people. But our Lord refers to solitary seasons. When, friends are withdrawn, when human helpers fail, when earthly comforters are silenced, when stretched on the bed of sickness, or shut up from our friends through weakness or pain, when lawfully detained at home on Sundays, our Father is specially present with us. He is therefore present now--at this moment--in this place. Try and realize this fact: my heavenly Father is present with me! As really present with me while thus alone, as with the saints in the sanctuary, or with saints before his throne. God is with me. God in all the glory of his nature--God in all the riches of his grace --God in all the tenderness of his paternal heart--God is with me, and with me to bless me.
Thirdly, For what is he with you?For what? For whatever you need; for whatever you can consistently desire. He is with you to converse with you. Not audibly--but really, though silently. He is free to listen to you. He will have patience to bear with you. "Pour out your heart before him."
Confess every sin in his ear.
Expose every corruption to his eye.
Lay the heart bare in his presence.
Set your iniquities before him, your secret sins in the light of his countenance.
Tell him your trials, temptations and troubles.
Speak to him of your doubts and fears, your forebodings and misgivings.
Tell him all that Satan tells you, all that the world does to you, and all the anxious thoughts that work within you. Let there be no reserve. Keep nothing back. He is your Father, he knows all--but he wishes to hear it all from your own lips.
He says, "Let me hear your voice." Bring forward all your petitions, urge all your requests, and especially plead his own promises. They were given to you for this purpose, and when thus pleaded, will be fulfilled in your experience. Be sincere and free with God, while you are thus alone with him. It is a golden opportunity, improve it. It is a precious season, make the most of it. Let not your weakness, or coldness, or deadness, or worldliness, deter you--but turn all such feelings into prayer. Tell the Lord just how you feel. Ask him for grace to remedy the evils of which you complain. One word from his gracious lips will . . .
soften the hard heart,
thaw the frozen heart,
enlighten the dark heart, and
spiritualize the worldly heart.
Let nothing keep you back, or make you distant--but "draw near unto God." Forget not that he is your Father; and with whom can you be free--if not with your Father? With whom should you feel at home if not with your Father?
Is it so, that the Father is with you? Then you ought not to repine or complain. Suppose others leave you, what then, if your Father stays at home with you? What if you cannot go to the Lord's house, if the Lord of the house comes to you? If you have not the candle--you have the sun. If you have not the cistern--you have the fountain. If you have not the servant--you have his Lord. Not only so--but you would have both, if both would be best for you.
For you ought to conclude, that whatever the Lord withholds is not necessary; whatever he refuses, would not be for your good. You have his word, that "no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly."
Is it so, that the Father is with you? Then you ought not to fear or despond. Why should you? What have you to fear? If the Lord Almighty is with you, if the God of Jacob is your refuge, should you not say, "therefore will I not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea!" Fear, whom? Fear, what? Your Father who is with you, says, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness."
Despond! why should you despond? How can you think of desponding, when you have the promises on your side, the fullness of Christ for your supply, and your Father is present with you?
Is it so, that the Father is with you, then you ought not to yield to the flesh, or to sin. Never does the flesh work more powerfully, than when we are alone, or experiencing any privation. Then it rises against God, mutters rebellion against the Most High, arraigns the conduct of the Lord, and sits in judgment on the Supreme. It "lusts against the Spirit." It is to be mortified--not indulged. It is to be crucified--not encouraged.
"The spirit that is in us lusts to envy." It envies the wealthy--if we are poor; the strong--if we are weak; the healthy--if we are sick; the man who has many friends--if we are left alone; and those who can attend the ordinances of God's house--if we are shut up and cannot come forth. But all this is wrong! In respect to these things, we are where we ought to be, and what we should be--because God has appointed that we should be as we are, and where we are.
Is it so, that the Father is with us, then we should not be idle, or misemploy our talents. In the sick room, in the solitary chamber, we may do something for God--if our heart is set upon it. The talent, whatever it may be, however small, must not be wrapped up in a napkin, no, not when laid aside from our more public situation. There is always something to do or bear, in doing or bearing which, we may glorify our Father who is in heaven.
Observe then, God has promised to be with all his people. Therefore, he is with you. He has promised to be always and everywhere with them, therefore he is present with you now under your present circumstances. This being the case you ought to feel safe and satisfied: safe, for Omnipotence is your protector; satisfied, for the all-sufficient God is with you to supply you. Never forget, one source of comfort always remains, wherever you may be, however you may be circumstanced, you "are not alone--for your Father is with you!"
Others may leave you—but God never will. Others may fail you--but he abides faithful. The Father is with all his children, therefore they shall persevere, and finally be more than conquerors. For if God is for us--who can be against us? If God is with us, what does it matter though men leave us. But he is with us, and will be with us always, even unto the end. But he is for us, and will beat down our foes before our face, and spoil those who hate us. Our Father is with us in our most solitary hours, in the most secluded spots; he is with us--rejoicing over us to do us good; he is with us--to guide us with his counsel, and afterward receive us to glory. Blessed truth, my Father is with me! Glorious privilege, which the world can neither give nor take away! Inestimable blessing, the value of which no finite mind can calculate!
This is the honor that comes from God only. This is a favor conferred only on the children of his love. This is a blessing which ought to fill the heart with gratitude, and the lips with praise. To the only wise God; to God, ever gracious; to God, who humbles himself to be present with his poor, tried, troubled, afflicted, and isolated people; to God, our covenant God in Jesus--be glory and honor, dominion and power, thanksgiving and praise, both now and forever, Amen!