Comfort For a New Year
James Smith, 1856
"The Lord lives!" 2 Samuel 22:47
We lives in trying times. The new year opens, as no new year has opened to us of late. Our country is at war. Provisions are scant. The future, though concealed from our view, appears to be hung with clouds. It is probable that there will be great changes. Many fears will be awakened. Many hearts will be wounded. The faith of many of the Lord's people will be deeply tried. Satan will be busy. Our principles will be put to the test. But amidst all, we, as believers in Jesus, have one comfort, "The Lord lives!" There will be no change in him.
His Word will remain true,
his throne will be unshaken, and
his purposes rest undisturbed.
He will have his way in the whirlwind and storm, and make a path for himself in the deep waters. Yes, Jehovah is immutably the same, and he is our God. Ours by covenant engagement. Ours by promise and by oath. Ours in Jesus, his beloved Son. He is the object of our hope and love. His bosom will be our resting-place, his arm our defense, and his proviilence our friend. Unspeakable privilege! Unparalleled mercy! Jehovah, in all his greatness and glory, in all his goodness and grace, is our God. And as our God he ever lives, ever reigns, and performs all things for us. Here is then —
An Encouraging Fact, with which to enter upon a new year, "The Lord lives!" Friends may die, the nearest and dearest of our friends; and most probably some of them will die this year. Our relatives may die, the wife may lose her husband, the husband may lose his wife, parents may lose their children. Oh, how many wives will be left widows, and children orphans, this year! But, the Lord lives, and that should comfort us under all. Church members may die, the most holy, the most useful, those upon whom the prosperity of the church seems to depend; but the Lord can do without any of them, and carry on his cause in their absence, as well as by their help. Ministers may die, the most exemplary, and the most successful. Many of our church leaders will be taken home this year. Many of our promising young men may be called away likewise. Many a pulpit will be vacated, and many a church will be left without a pastor — but the Great Shepherd lives, and his church is safe, his cause must go on. He is not dependent upon men, or ministers, to carry on his cause — and he often proves this to us, by removing early those who promise most. He can raise up any number and any kind of ministers he chooses; and, blessed be his name, he will raise up all that he needs.
If, therefore, during this year, dear friends are called away, if our most valuable relatives are taken home, if the active members of our churches are removed, or even if our preachers and pastors die — let us remember, "The Lord lives!" This will give us living comfort amidst dying circumstances, and dying friends.
Our gourds may wither, our idols may be torn from us — but "the Lord lives!" and living — he loves all his people. His dispensations may change — but his love never. Fixed on his people in past eternity — fixed on his people as viewed in Jesus — it remains immutably the same. Everything outside of God will change; but his love to his people is himself loving them; it is his nature, it is himself; and he is immutably the same.
I may lose the affection of my fellow-man — but God will still love me; for he rests in his love. Whom he loves — he loves to the end. While he lives — he loves his people; and as he ever lives — he ever loves.
Oh, consoling truth, amidst all the toils, trials, troubles, and temptations of the coming year — the living God will continue to love me! Love me infinitely! Love me so as to cause all things to work together for my good!
"The Lord lives!" and living takes an interest in all the affairs of his people. Having numbered the very hairs of their heads — he considers nothing too insignificant, nothing too trivial to interest him — if it affects them. Believer, your God will take an interest in your every-day affairs, and he wishes to hear from you in reference to them all. Hence the direction, "In everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." He will look to all that concerns you, and desires to help you in every situation. He bids you cast all your cares upon him, assuring you that he cares for you. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
"The Lord lives!" and living, will listen to all the sighs, cries, groans, and prayers of his people. Not one will escape his notice. Each will touch his heart and awaken his sympathy. "I have heard," said he of old, "the groanings of my people who are in Egypt, and I have come down to deliver them." Yes, poor, tried, troubled Christian, your God will hear your cries, regard your prayers, fulfill his promises, and end all your sorrows, by setting you before his face forever.
"The Lord lives!" and lives to fulfill his Word. His predictions shall all be made good. His promises shall all be performed. Creatures may break their word — but our God will never violate his. Every promise lies before his eye, is engraved on his heart, and shall he fulfilled in the experience of his people — to his own praise and glory. My poor tried brother, you may trust him. However rough your road. However severe your inward conflict. Yes, while floods of corruption are rolling through your soul, while Satan's fiery darts are sticking fast in you, while the world is frowning, and even your fellow-Christians are looking coldly upon you, or standing aloof from you — you may trust him!
"The Lord lives," and lives to accomplish his purposes. Toward you, they are gracious purposes. Trying they may be; beneficial they must be. They flow from his love. They bear the stamp of his wisdom. They were passed in Jesus. They are to issue in his glory.
Poor Job, in the midst of his affliction, saw something of this, and therefore said, "He performs the thing that is appointed for me, and many such things are with him."
"The Lord lives!" and lives to perfect his works. The work of redemption will be perfected by the resurrection of all the saints in the exact likeness of Jesus. The work of grace in your heart will be perfected in the exact conformity of your soul to the soul of Jesus, in the day of his glorious appearing. The Lord began it — and he who began it, will complete it. He well knew all the opposition it would meet with. He knew how much and how often it would be hindered — but he determined that it would never die. He will carry it on by what means and by what agencies he pleases — but he will carry it on, until he can see the image of his moral excellencies reflected by every power of your soul!
"The Lord lives," and lives to secure the glory of
his own most holy name. "The Lord has made everything for his own purposes —
even the wicked for a day of disaster." He will get glory by all he does,
by all he prevents, and by all he permits. When the mystery of
redemption is finished, we shall see that all his works praise him, and his
saints bless him. His work will appear to be honorable and glorious, and his
righteousness will endure forever. His glory will be great in our salvation.
Sweet thought this: My God will get glory by me:
by all my toils and troubles,
by all my sadness and sorrows,
by all my conflicts and conquests,
by my weakness and strength,
by my sighs and songs,
by my life and my death!
Let us then, my poor tried fellow-traveler, enter upon
this new year, drawing encouragement and comfort from the fact, that "the
Lord lives;" and try and sing with the Psalmist, "The Lord lives, and
blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted!" We will now
The comfortable CONCLUSIONS to be drawn from this fact.
If the Lord lives — we shall not be FRIENDLESS,
for he will be our friend, a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He
will . . .
counsel us by his Word,
conduct us by his providence,
teach us by his Spirit,
feed us with his hand, and
at length receive us to glory!
If the Lord lives — we shall not be FATHERLESS, for he will be a father unto us, and we shall be his sons and daughters. He will treat us as his children. He will deal with us as with sons. He will perform a father's part. Therefore we may expect to be instructed, corrected, yes, sometimes scourged! "For what son is there whom his father chastens not." True, if we can do without the rod, we shall not have it; but if the fool's back calls for stripes — we shall receive them. He will not spare the rod — and spoil his child; much less will he ever allow one to die or perish from neglect.
If the Lord lives — we shall never be FORSAKEN; for the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make them his people. His own most precious Word assures us of this. He speaks to us individually. He says to each poor, timid, troubled believer, "I will never leave you! I will never, no never, no never, forsake you!" As believers in Jesus, he has sworn that he will not be wrathful with us, nor rebuke us.
Precious, precious assurance this, with which to begin the year — that let what will take place in the family, in the world, in the church, or even in our soul's experience — we shall not be friendless, fatherless, or forsaken! But as it is said of old, "For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord Almighty, though their land is full of sin before the Holy One of Israel" — so we shall find that amidst all that occurs, we have a faithful friend, a loving father, and a present God. Oh, for grace rightly to use and improve this glorious fact!
If the Lord lives — then we may go forward with
CONFIDENCE . . .
in our Christian course,
in our daily labor,
into the deadly conflict!
As our day — so will our strength be. The grace of Jesus will be found sufficient for us. Confidence befits those who have the living God with them to fight for them; with them as their friend and father. This is our privilege, therefore with confidence let us press on toward the mark for the prize.
If the Lord lives — then we may look forward into the future with HOPE. Clouds and darkness may surround us at present. Briers and thorns may be with us now. But the clouds and darkness will pass away, for light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. The briers and thorns will vanish; for instead of the thorn — shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier — shall come up the myrtle tree, and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign, that shall not be cut off.
If the Lord lives — we may meet the worst with COURAGE. Should it be persecution, or poverty, or reproach — we may then meet it, for since, and because, Jesus lives, we shall live also. Yes, we shall be more than conquerors — through him who loved us.
If the Lord lives — we may anticipate DEATH without dread. We may die this year! But suppose we do — we shall "die in the Lord;" we shall only depart from scenes of sin, sorrow, disappointment, vexation, and grief — "to be with Christ, which is far better." Besides which, the living Lord will be with us in the dying hour; he will watch beside our dying pillow; and give special grace, for this special trial. Oh, believer, what is death to you? A foe? True — but a stingless, powerless foe! A strange transition! Admitted — but One will be with you, who is no stranger to you, for even death cannot sever you from his love, or change his heart towards you.
If the Lord lives — we should . . .
publish his fame,
speak forth the honor of his name,
and make his praise glorious.
If the Lord lives — we should cleave to his friends; they may he imperfect, despised, and trying — but they are his friends still; and we should love them, prefer them, and cleave to them for his sake.
If the Lord lives — we should live in his family, and with his household. The church is the household of God; of that visible household we should be members, dwelling in it, working in it, and seeking our happiness in its great and precious privileges. We should abound in his work. If he works in us, the least we can do in return, is to work for him. To work heartily. To work regularly. To be, as the apostle exhorts, "Always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as we know that our labor is not vain in the Lord."
If the Lord lives — our fears are follies. Whom should we fear? What should we fear? Nothing but sin — literally, nothing but sin. Through this year we should join with David and sing, "The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident!" Or with David, "I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord, the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together."
If the Lord lives — conquest is sure. He who once conquered for us, will conquer in us, and conquer by us. Our shout will be, by and bye, "We are more than conquerors, through him that loved us!" Therefore at present we may say to the Lord, "We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners."
Finally, if the Lord lives — supplies are certain.
We do not know what we may need, nor how much we may need, nor
how long we may need — but the Lord knows; and he has provided of his
goodness for the poor. In eternity, he laid up for us; and in time, all
through our time here, he will lay out upon us. Only let us . . .
exercise faith in his Word,
cleave to his cross,
wrestle at his throne,
watch in his way,
work in his vineyard,
and aim at his glory —
and then let taxes rise ever so high, let trade sink ever so low, let needs increase ever so fast — we may confidently say, "The Lord lives — and my God will supply all my needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus!"