The Living God
J. R. Miller, 1902
"We have put our hope in the living God." 1 Timothy 4:10
The God of the Bible is a living God. He has a heart of tenderness and love, like our mother's heart. He thinks of His redeemed people, and cares for them. He seeks their companionship, is interested in their life, craves their affection, and is grieved by their sin or alienation from Him. Jesus was the revealer of God; and He used but one name in making God known—the name Father—putting into the holy word, all that is tender, sweet, and compassionate, all that love could possibly mean.
This truth of the living God is full of rich encouragement. It assures us of complete satisfaction for all our cravings. We know what a satisfying of the heart, even a strong human friendship gives. There are friends who are to us like a great rock in a weary land. We flee to them in the heat of parching days, and rest in their shadow. A friend in whom we can confide without fear of disappointment; who, we are sure, will never fail us; who always has a healing tenderness for the hurt of our heart, comfort for our sorrows, and cheer for our discouragement—such a friend is not only a rock of shelter for us in time of danger—but is also as rivers of water in a thirsty land, when our hearts cry out for life and love.
Yet this, at its best, is only a hint of what God is to those who bring their thirsts to Him. The cross of Christ meets the soul's most intense cry for pardon. The Divine love meets the deepest yearnings of the hungriest heart for love. God's wisdom answers all the questions of human eagerness to know. Things alone, will never satisfy an immortal life; even the best of God's blessings and gifts will not do it; nothing less than God Himself will suffice! Yet this is what Christian faith finds—not the mere tokens of Divine favor, the comforts of Divine care—but God Himself. "I am your friend," is the assurance that comes to each trusting one. Thus it is, that God meets all human cravings—by giving us Himself.
The truth of the living God gives us confidence in prayers. Is there anyone to hear us when we cry out of a sense of need, danger, or desire? Is there anyone who cares to help us or bless us? If God is only a great central force at the heart of things—it is in vain that we bow down, morning and night, and tell out our heart's yearnings. Can a Force hear the cry of the children, the pleading of the distressed, or the sighing of the prisoner? Would a man pray to the wind, or to the sun, or to gravitation? If there is no living God, there can be no prayer; for then there is no heart to care, no ear to hear, and no hand to help.
Suppose we were to learn that all this cherished belief of ours concerning prayer is a mistake, that there really is no one who cares for us, or can give us any help—how dark the world would become to us! Men who have been reared in the simple teachings of Christianity, believing in a God of love, in the cross of Christ, and in prayer, and then have lost these faiths, have confessed that in the fading out of the childhood lessons from their heart—they have lost their sweetest joy and their dearest happiness, and that the brightness has died out of the world for them.
No other loss, no bereavement, no possible misfortune, could equal for a moment the loss of faith in God as our Father, and as the hearer of our prayers.
It is indeed true that no other possible loss can so bereave the heart and darken the life—as the losing of faith in God. It leaves the world cold and empty. If we were to learn some day that all our Christian faith is but a dream, with no reality—life would lose for us its sweetest joys and holiest hopes.
But we need not vex ourselves with such distressing suppositions. Our God is the living God who loves us, knows our needs, thinks upon us, and hears our feeblest prayer—our own Father.
This truth gives us assurance also of Divine thought and care in all our life. Suppose again, that one sad day we were to learn that there is no one, no intelligent being above ourselves, interested in the affairs of the universe; that the world, is a world of chance; that no wisdom directs, that no hand guides events; that the universe is only a vast machine, grinding on forever; that evil men and devils have no check put upon their power to hurt; and that our lives are hopeless victims of this resistless, heartless, remorseless grinding—how it would darken all life for us! A world without a Father! A universe without love! What would we do in the day of earthly disaster?
But how different is the teaching of the Word of God! This is our Father's world! We do not have to wait for heaven to find ourselves in God's care. Events do not run riot here, crushing all gentle things under their feet. There is no lawlessness anywhere. No wave of the sea in wildest storm—ever dashes out of God's control. No pestilence, no earthquake, no flood of trouble, no tidal wave of misfortune—ever gets beyond the power of Him who sits on the throne!
It does not always seem so, even to Christian faith. God's children sometimes appear to be sorely hurt in life's experiences. Things appear to go wrong, with no hand of wisdom or love restraining or directing them. When we look at circumstances—the loss, the suffering, and the apparent triumph of wrong—we sometimes almost question the truth of the words on which we have learned to trust. But we need to take wider views of the Divine providences. Earthly evil is not the sorest evil. Sorrow, pain, and personal injury are not the things that really hurt our lives. It is possible to suffer every manner of trial and affliction—and yet to be continually receiving blessing. God's keeping us from evil—does not necessarily mean His keeping us from pain and suffering. Jesus was kept in the divinest keeping, and yet all the world's bitterness swept over Him. Paul's course was one of loss and persecution to the very end; and yet his real life, which he had entrusted as a holy deposit with Christ, was kept untouched by harm through all his sore experiences.
So it ever is with those who commit their soul to Christ, and abide in Him. Property may be taken away, friends may forsake, pain may rack, the body may be torn; but none of these things can touch the soul. It is in the keeping of the living God, who is faithful, and in whose hands we never can perish, nor even suffer real harm. The pain and shadow—are only the ways to the best blessings.
At night, on ships at sea, when the bell strikes the hours, the watch in the lookout calls, "All's well." There may be terror on the sea, a storm raging, and the waves breaking over the decks. The passengers may be in dread, many of them sick, others trembling and afraid. There may be sore distress on board. Yet hour after hour, as the night passes and the bells ring, the cheerful words ring down from the little nest on the mast, where the lookout keeps watch, "Ten o'clock, and all's well." In truth, all is well in spite of the storm, the waves, the sickness, and the terror. The great ship is riding in safety through the tempest, mastering wind and wave, bearing its precious cargo of life steadily toward the haven! "Twelve o'clock and all's well!" So the hours move, and at length morning comes, the sun shines forth, the waves sob themselves into a calm, and there is joy once more on board.
So it is that the voice of Christian hope ever sings its song of cheer in men's ears in the midst of earth's storms. "All's well!" In the world at large, amid all human sin and failure, God's plan of love goes on without interruption! Good will come at last—out of all that seems evil. The morning will break, the sun will shine out, and the great ship will be found beyond the storm, sailing on, triumphant over every danger.
"God's in His heaven;
All's well with the world."
We need never doubt that the destiny of the redeemed, is good and not evil, life and not death. God lives and He will bring us through the night to the morning. It is His voice we hear calling down, as the hours pass, "Midnight, and all's well!" "Morning watch, and all's well!"
What is true for the Father's world at large—is true for each one of the Father's trusting children. We have no promise that we shall escape trial and sorrow. But we have the assurance that nothing can harm us if we are the true followers of Christ. We are in Divine keeping, and none is able to snatch us out of our Father's hands! What seems loss to us—is but God taking our treasures into His own safer keeping. What seems misfortune to us—is only God's way of doing for us something better than we could ever have dreamed. God lives, and nothing can really go wrong with one who trusts Him and does His will.