"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
"I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous." Psalm
As we are seated, it may be, in loneliness and sadness,
with, perhaps, a dreary sense of mystery, under one of the wilderness palms,
God thus addresses us in the first of these motto-verses. Happy for us, if
we can respond to the whispering fronds above us, in the words of the
Not such, however, is generally (or, at all events, in
the first moments of trial), the utterance of cheerful consent on the
part of the smitten, or wounded, or broken spirit. On the contrary, in
the midst of dark dispensations, how apt are we to impugn the Almighty's
faithfulness, question the wisdom of His procedure, and set up
our wills in opposition to the Divine. Nor are these misgivings confined to
the case of personal and domestic afflictions. To take no infrequent
illustration, in which not individual interests, but the welfare of the
Church seems involved. Here is an honored Ambassador of Christ; a faithful
witness of the truth, unwearied in his endeavors to awaken the careless,
comfort the mourner, soothe the suffering, and befriend the dying. Though
others might be arrested in the midst of health and laid on beds of
languishing, I thought that, for the world's good, and the glory of the
Master he serves, a rampart of defense would have been thrown around a life
of earnest love, and zeal, and unselfishness.
Yet, while other weaklings and "Ready-to-halts" are
spared, this standard-bearer, this Asahel, swift of foot and daring in
deed—has fallen in the field—just when his courage, and heroism, and
example, were most needed, to nerve his comrades and turn the tide of
battle. Many decayed and gnarled trunks are left, to occupy their place in
the forest, while the strong of stem, and green of leaf, and majestic in
shadow, are rooted up. Old crumbling pillars are allowed to remain, while
polished shafts, fresh from the quarry, have been struck and shivered with
lightning! Where is He who guides with unerring rectitude the destinies
of the universe? "Has God forgotten to be gracious?" "Surely the Lord
does not see, neither does the God of Jacob regard!"
Or, to take the case which comes most deeply home to the
individual heart. Where is the mercy or tenderness in that
sudden banishing of life's summer dream—that demolition of the most
cherished vision of earthly bliss? I was taught to imagine that His dealings
to His own were those of a Father, not retributive or judicial, but
paternal: that I could see no hand, and hear no lullaby but love. Why has
the promised parental solicitude been superseded by the harsh voice and the
rebuking rod? Why has the All-loving belied His own saying, "As one whom his
mother comforts"? "You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer; from of old is
Your name. Where is Your zeal and Your might? Your tenderness and compassion
are withheld from us" (Isaiah 63:15, 16).
What is the answer to these and suchlike unworthy
conjectures? "Be still and know that I am God." To the eye of
sense, however baffling and mysterious be the ways of the Supreme—it is
not for us to judge, and surmise, and conjecture, but to believe; not to
question, but, like Job, to kneel and to adore. If we allowed
our own short-sighted wisdom to sit in judgment on the Divine procedure,
each one of us would at times be tempted to turn away in sullen discontent
from many a providential message.
The disciples on their way to Emmaus were cherishing such
a spirit. With their back to their Lord's cross, and their faces bent on the
ground, they muttered in despair, "We had hoped that He was the one
who was going to redeem Israel." Little did they dream, amid these pensive
musings and carnal reasonings, that the Messiah of their nation and
of the world was walking by their side!
Martha and Mary were cherishing such a spirit, when they
rushed to the uplands of Bethany and gazed with wistful eye across to the
Moab mountains, "as to a world beyond the grave," for a tarrying Lord. If
their inmost souls had been disclosed—if we could have listened to their
words, we would have heard them thus pouring out their disconsolate
soliloquy—'We thought He would not so have lingered; that His omniscient eye
and omnipotent love would have discerned and pitied our tempest-tossed bark
in its sea of sorrows. It is unlike His kind heart thus to mock our grief.
It is unlike His righteous wisdom thus to single out His and our loved
brother for a premature grave. We had felt fondly convinced that darkened
and desolate as other homes in Judea might be, the last light He
would have extinguished would be that in the Bethany dwelling—the last star
expunged from the firmament—one so bright with promise!' No! hush,
unbelieving one: "Did I not tell you, that if you would BELIEVE, you would
see the glory of God?"
Oh, for an unquestioning faith! We often reason, and
conjecture, and 'think,' when, in the circumstances, it is alike our duty
and our privilege to listen simply to the voice of Jehovah; not venturing to
arraign the faithfulness and love of even the most inscrutable
dispensations; but rather, in reverent submission to say, amid crossed wills
and frowning providences—"I will hear what God the Lord will speak, He will
speak peace to His people and to His saints."
"I think if you could know,
Oh soul, that will complain,
What lies concealed below
Our burden and our pain.
"I think if you could see
With your dim mortal sight,
How meanings dark to thee
Are shadows hiding light.
"Truth's efforts crossed and vexed,
Life's purpose all perplexed—
If you could see them right,
I think that they would seem,
all clear, and wise, and bright.
"Well may Your happy children cease
From restless wishes prone to sin,
And, in Your own exceeding peace,
Yield to Your daily discipline.
"We need as much the cross we bear
As air we breathe—as light we see,
It draws us to Your side in prayer,
It binds us to our strength in Thee."
"Those who know Your name will trust in you."