"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16
"The Lord shall help them, and deliver them,…because they trust in him."—Psalm 37:40
This is one of the many sweet promises which gild the pages of inspiration, and which, so often—amid life's trials and difficulties and dangers—revive the fainting spirit, and lead the toiling, trembling one, to Him who is the sole strength of His people, and whose promises in Christ "are all yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God." For, of all the plans that may be adopted, for obtaining help in difficulty, comfort in distress, light in darkness, there is none so sure, so effectual, as that of taking a Divine promise to the throne of grace—laying it humbly before the Lord, putting Him in remembrance—and pleading with Him, in the language of the psalmist, "Remember the word unto Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope."
The believer, then, has good ground to hope for Divine help and deliverance. He has been adopted into God's family—made an "heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ." God has loved him with an "everlasting love"—how can He fail to extend, in every time of need, that help which is required? Our dear Lord, in His last prayer, asks that His people might be so blessed. "The glory which You gave me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one—and that the world may know that You have sent me, and have loved them, as You have loved me." If, then, believers are the objects of this love of the Father, do you think, He would be unwilling to impart the needful help—to strengthen them in every emergency—and to sustain them by that almighty power which is equal to all their wants?
But further, believers are expressly said to be the property of Christ. They are His own, purchased by His blood and renewed by His Spirit. He owns them as His disciples—He pleads for them in heaven—He prays that they may be "kept from the evil" that is in the world, and that prayer must be accomplished; and, whatever strength His people require to endure trial, to meet temptation, to discharge duty, to press forward, that strength is secured by the prayer of Jesus. Thus, we find the apostle connecting the fact that believers are the property of Christ, with the undoubted truth, that all things are made to convey blessings to them. "All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's."
Besides, as we have seen, God has been pleased to promise this help, to all His believing people. He has not left it a matter of conjecture. He has assured us, that He will be their strength in every emergency—that when the dark cloud gathers He will take them by the hand—when the tempest rages He will lead them to the covert—when the limbs are feeble and tottering He will impart new vigor; and His language to the traveler Zionward is, "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." That promise must be fulfilled, and He will continually to the end, strengthen His believing people. By His providence, and by His grace, He will fulfill His word, and support them in every emergency.
But, while God has thus promised to be the strength of His people, His promise is associated with the use of means. Its fulfillment must be sought by exertion—by the use of appointed means. "The Lord shall help them and deliver them, because they trust in Him." It is only by the exercise of faith—faith in God's word and promises—that we can lay hold on Divine strength. We must believe these things as said for us and to us, and regard the power of God, not merely as engaged to bless others, but to bless ourselves. It is not enough to be convinced, that He has said He will never forsake His people, but the effect of that promise upon each Christian's heart should be, "I may therefore say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man can do unto me." It is not enough, to believe that God is a strength to others—each is to say, "In the Lord have I strength;" not enough, that the "Lord Jehovah is a strength and song" to others—but each is to say, "He is my strength and song."
This, be sure, is the part of true faith—to appropriate the promises God has given, and to lay hold on that almighty strength, which is secured to every believer in Christ Jesus. Weak in himself, the Christian can then feel "strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might;" and with God's promise, "no weapon formed against you shall prosper," bound as a frontlet between his eyes, he may go forth, conquering and to conquer. What, though his enemy comes against him, mightier than the giant of Gath, and armed with impenetrable brass—and nothing be found in his own hand, but the shepherd's sling and the smooth stone of the brook!—yet, he may meet his antagonist without a quaking hand or a trembling thought, shouting, "Victory is of the Lord"—or, in the words of the apostle, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
There is yet another important means, in order to obtain this help and deliverance, and it is this, continually to "wait upon God," for the communication of the promised blessing. Divine imparted strength is ever associated with this obvious duty. If God alone communicates this help to His people, it is but reasonable that they should humbly, and earnestly, and perseveringly, ask for it. "Wait on the Lord," says the psalmist, "be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart—wait, I say, on the Lord." They who do not wait on Him, must not expect, that their negligence, pride, and indifference, should be rewarded with the comfort of Divine help and deliverance; but they who seek that help, by earnest, persevering prayer, may hope, that their experience will resemble David's, when he said, "In the day when I cried You answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul."
Reader! do you desire that the Lord should be your Helper and Deliverer? Oh, then, come to the throne of grace, and make known your request. Prayer is God's own appointed channel for imparting strength and courage to His people. He will grant the desire of your heart, for, to nothing has He more strongly and solemnly pledged Himself, than to the answering of the prayer of faith. "You shall call, and I will answer." There needs nothing but a believing prayer, to turn the promise into a performance. You may not, indeed, always receive the help you wish—the deliverance you long for, but you will receive what God knows to be best for you—strength equal to your day. More might injure you—induce self-confidence—and tempt you to lean on feeble reeds, and earthly supports. The promise, therefore, is, not that you shall experience no difficulties, encounter no trials, and be harassed by no fears, as you journey heavenward, but, that the Lord will help you, and deliver you out of them all, in His own time, and in His own way.
You will have burdens and crosses—doubts and fears—you will have many a time a rugged path to tread; but, if you trust in the Lord, and look to Him for help, you need not fear. His grace will be made sufficient for you, and His promise will be realized in your experience, "As your days, so shall your strength be." Only trust God, and, be sure, that "He is faithful who has promised."
When Jacob—fearing the approach of Esau—went to God for help, and implored Him to deliver him out of the hand of his brother, he reminded God (as it were) of His promise—"You said, I will surely do you good." It was on this account, that Jacob felt convinced, that God would now afford him help and deliverance—it was enough for him, that God had said it, for "God is not a man that He should lie; has He said, and shall He not do it? or has He spoken, and shall He not make it good?"
This humble, but unshaken confidence, is the very soul of prayer. Come, thus, to the throne of grace, pleading the exceeding great and precious promises of your God, and you will never be sent away empty. "Put me in remembrance," says God, "let us plead together—declare, that you may be justified." Whatever be the blessing you desire, or the help you stand in need of, put your heavenly Father in remembrance of the promise, by which He has insured it to you. It is His own direction, and, therefore, cannot be unavailing. Do you desire to have the guardian care of Him who slumbers not nor sleeps?—remind the Lord that He has said, "He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways." Do you long for a companion who will lead you heavenward?—the promise is, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." Do you ask forgiveness?—take with you the words, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Do you seek acceptance?—He has declared, "Him that comes unto me I will never cast out." Happy is it for the Christian when he can faithfully plead, and contentedly repose his soul, upon such promises as these—he will have no cause for alarm—"The enemy may come in like a flood, but the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him."
Learn, Christian, where you ought to go with all your difficulties—to the Throne of Grace. There you are sure of help and deliverance. It is to the true Christian, the citadel where he will always find a protector to aid, and the home where there is always a Father to listen to him. "I must tell this to my God," was the affecting observation of a Christian slave, while writhing under the lash of a cruel taskmaster. There was no one else who would hear or help him—no other being who could sympathize with him or relieve him. How many are the crosses of the Christian, which ought only to be divulged to this never-failing Friend—how many sorrows which can be poured into no bosom but that of his Redeemer! It is thus, that when you are weak then you are strong—when with the prophet "your eyes fail with looking upwards," and you cry—"O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me;"—then you are sure of help, deliverance, victory.
It is by earnest prayer, that in the fullness of His sympathy, in the depth of His love, and in the strength of His all-sufficiency, the Savior is brought near. The fervent breathings—the ardent longings, which ascend from a believer's heart, gather and accumulate in the upper skies; and, when most he needs Divine grace and strength, they descend in covenant blessings upon his soul. No real, believing prayer is ever lost, even as the moisture exhaled from earth is never lost. That thin, almost invisible vapor which the morning's sun has caught up, returns again—distilling in gentle dews or falling in plentiful rain—watering the earth and making it to bring forth and bud.
That feeble desire—that faint breathing of the soul after God, shall never perish—it was, perhaps, so weak and tremulous—so mixed with fear and anxiety—so burdened with complaint and sin, that you could scarcely discern it to be real prayer, and yet, ascending from a heart inhabited by the Holy Spirit, it was accepted by God, and was presented by our great High Priest, "with the much incense" before the Throne. Around that Throne, these prayers are gathering—like clustering angels—and, although the "vision may tarry," yet, waiting in humble faith God's time, those prayers will come back, bringing help and deliverance, so that the believer shall exclaim—"Lord, I thank You, You have heard my cry. You have kept my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice."
Oh, then, daily ask and plead for Divine strength! When you experience a temptation, turn to the Lord for support—when conscious of the rising of a rebellious temper, go to Him for strength against it—when the deceitful heart would turn you aside, ask of Him to lead you in the way everlasting. Take all your difficulties whatever they may be; the daily life and conversation—the little circumstances of every hour, with all their perplexities whatever they are—take them to your Father, unbosom them all to Him, lay them all before Him with perfect confidence, and firm reliance on His promises, and you will find, that the way to obtain confidence in regard to the greatest matter of the salvation of your soul, is to exercise confidence in small things. How can faith ever strengthen, if you do not bring it to bear on your daily life?—on your little disappointments, and vexations, and troubles—remembering that God has said that "all things shall work together for good" to those who love Him. Strive, always, to exercise an unlimited confidence in God. "Though prayer is the key that opens God's treasures, yet faith is the hand that turns the key, without which it will do no good." And it should encourage you to do so, to remember that it is the afflictions and operations of everyday life, that call this principle into exercise; and, a very great proportion of a Christian's life, as far as he is concerned, consists in the exercise of this principle.
And, amid all your difficulties and dangers, be cheered by the thought, that "stronger is He who is with you, than all that can be against you." Oh, could we fling back the veil of flesh which now intercepts and dims our vision, and see the child of God as he is seen by the Father of his spirit and the holy angels, journeying onwards to his home—what a spectacle would we behold!—a creature, weak, helpless in himself, yet "strong in the Lord and in the power of his might;"—his every movement exciting the deepest interest—watched over by God—attended by seraphs—opposed and beset by the powers of darkness, but succored and sheltered by the everlasting arms, conducted in safety onwards and upwards, heavenwards and homewards!
Christian! be it yours, thus to lean upon the arm of your covenant God, and to place all your trust and confidence in Him—and, while fighting the good fight of faith, fix your eye upon the time, when the battle shall be over—the conflict past, and when, as the din and tumult die away upon the ear, you shall hear the songs of seraphs, and the voice of one above them all, saying, "Come up higher—take your crown, your crown of many stars, which I have promised to him who is faithful unto death."
Almighty God, our Father and Preserver, by whose merciful providence we are guided and upheld from day to day, we acknowledge our dependence on Your care, and lift up our souls in thanksgiving for Your goodness. Blessed be You, who daily loads us with benefits, O God of our salvation. Though, often, alas! we have changed towards You, You have never changed towards us. With what unwearying watchfulness have You been compassing our path, defending us from danger, guarding us from temptation, hedging up our way with thorns, preserving us with the blessings of Your goodness! When, often, on the brink of the precipice, ready to fall, Your interposing hand has saved us from inevitable destruction. When, through our own weakness and unwatchfulness, we would now have been wandering in hopeless alienation from You, You have mercifully not allowed the bruised reed to be broken, nor the smoking flax to be quenched.
Lord, our earnest prayer is, that Your grace may still be made sufficient for us. May no spiritual foe be allowed to invade our peace or endanger our safety. May we seek, O God, from day to day, to live a life of simple faith and dependence on Your grace; with confiding love may we commit our every care, and need, and perplexity to Your better direction, feeling assured that You will guide us by a right way to the city of habitation.
Oh, give unto us hearts more sensible of Your love to us, and more full of love to You; and dispose us ever to seek our happiness in the enjoyment of Your favor, the doing of Your will, and the hope of Your heavenly kingdom. Above all would we seek a renewed interest in those covenant blessings which Christ died to purchase, and which he is exalted to bestow. All our hope is in Him; weak, helpless, perishing, we flee to Him as the help, and hope, and portion of all who seek Him. Hide us, O blessed Savior, in Your wounded side. We would overcome alone through the blood of the Lamb. May we know more and more the power of Your resurrection, and the fellowship of Your sufferings. May our every hope, for time and eternity, center in Your Cross.
Keep us ever near to You. Hold us up and we shall be
safe. Help and deliver us, O Lord, for our trust is in You. May we be kept
by the mighty power of God through faith unto salvation. Hear us, gracious
Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Savior. Amen.
In sorrow and distress,