Comfort for the Cast Down
James Smith, 1842
"O my God, my soul is cast down within me — therefore will I remember You!" Psalm 42:6
The Christian's course, like the Pilgrim's journey — lies through barren deserts, over rocky maintains, and dangerous passes. His prospects are often obscured, his comforts wither and die — and he feels himself lonely and deserted. His soul is often cast down within him.
Sometimes his inbred corruption, working, and opposing everything that is good, useful, or holy — distresses him beyond description; he would do good — but evil is present with him, to hinder and deter him. Frustrated in his endeavors, disappointed in his expectations, and weakened until he feels powerless and distressed — he exclaims, in mental agony, "Oh, what a wretched person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" He is indeed cast down.
At other times, the frowning aspects of divine providence, give occasion to the cast down one — to lead him to question his interest in Jehovah's love, and paternal relation. He views things with the eye of sense, and looks at them through the lens of reason — rather than faith. He forgets the promised supports of his God, falls to reasoning, and comparing himself and his circumstances with others, until, perhaps, he is ready, with mistaken Jacob, to cry out, "All these things are against me!"
The heat of the furnace increases, or the waters rise and the billows roar; he feels his foothold fail him, and he thinks he is standing on very slippery ground — a little more, and religion will be disgraced, the gospel dishonored, and the glory of Jesus tarnished by him; this makes him mournfully cry out, "My soul is cast down within me!"
Perhaps the Christian has a family; he desires to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; he endeavors to set an example before them worthy of imitation; but he is hindered and foiled, his constitutional imperfections, or perhaps his own wife, seem effectually to prevent it, and he cannot do the thing that he would.
He looks for help — but behold hindrance;
he looks for comfort — but lo! distress;
he looks for sympathy — but he meets harshness;
he looks for support — but he finds the opposition —
until his full bosom heaves, and his burdened heart groans out before the Lord, "My soul is cast down within me!"
Many a godly husband, and many a holy wife, has found this to be the case; prayer has been hindered, disorder introduced into the family, and the soul-distressing burden laid upon the mind.
But we must imitate the Psalmist when cast down — he says, "Therefore will I remember You." It is sometimes very encouraging to the Christian to think of the Lord. Amidst all these changes and trials — He remains immutably the same! He is still our loving Father, gracious Master, present Friend, and glorious Lord!
He may allow us to be opposed — but we shall not be overcome.
We may be crossed — but we shall not be lost.
We may be cast down — but not forsaken.
We may be sunk very low — but not quite overwhelmed.
He chose us, owns us, stands engaged to support us, and will ultimately crown us! Oh to believe this, so as to draw comfort, joy, and peace therefrom!
But it is cheering often, to remember the Lord's past appearances for us, and to us, in times of trial, trouble, and distress. He has been our help, therefore under the shadow of His wings should we trust and rejoice. Often has He so timed His mercies, as to fill us with wonder, gratitude and love. He has wonderfully manifested His wisdom, prudence, and care, in the time and manner of His intervention on our behalf.
Remember, the Lord has promised to help, direct, and overrule all things for the good of His people. He is faithful to His word, and always acts in character. He will never fail us or forsake us. He is ever near, His eye notices every movement of either friend or foe, however minute, or from creatures concealed. His ear is open to the softest whisper, and nothing can escape His all-knowing mind. He cares for us, seeks our welfare, and will surely do us good.
Let us then cease from man; yes, turn away from all creatures — to the Lord. What a mercy, to have a God to turn to, in all trials and under all our distresses — a God of love, mercy, grace, and goodness! What a mercy, to have a Savior who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. You are still Jesus — the tender-hearted, compassionate, and never failing Friend of all who love You, and seek Your glory! O Jesus, manifest your sympathy with your poor, tried, and cast-down brethren below! When our souls are cast down within us, help us to remember you; your sorrows, your sufferings, your agonies, and bloody sweat. The weight of woe under which your spirit groaned, the load of sin which made your soul to be troubled, the dreadful pain which made your body faint, and at length sink into the arms of death.
Brethren and sisters in the path of tribulation — expect trials, troubles, and soul-piercing distresses; they are part of our portion, ordained for our present good and future welfare. We cannot avoid them — though imprudence sometimes increases their weight. Look unto the Lord; I know you will find it difficult to do so, especially after you have looked, and looked, and find that you are not lightened. I feel it at this moment; yet still we must endeavor to look again; Jesus is the same, we are one with Him, and cannot be forgotten by Him.