"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." John 14:18
When Jesus spoke these words, the hearts of His disciples were filled with sadness. The anticipation of His departure from them flung a cold, dark shadow over all their future. What was the world to them now that their Lord and Friend was about to leave it? They were conscious of the grief and desolateness of orphans. They felt themselves alone; but how timely and how tenderly He had met their case: "I will not leave you comfortless "- orphans. With a heart like His, how could it be otherwise? His withdrawment was the occasion of their sorrow- could meet that sorrow but Himself? And how opportunely and effectively He came to their help! Will our Lord impose upon us a cross- lay upon us a burden- inflict a sorrow, and then leave us unsustained by His grace, unsoothed by His sympathy, uncheered by His love? Never! "I will come to you" is His precious declaration.
There are periods in the Christian life when comfort is especially needed; for these circumstances the Lord reserves His cordials. Thus, if Christ appears more loving and sympathizing at one time than another, it is not that there is any increase in His heart's tenderness, but simply a more timely and full unfolding of it. If, therefore, there should be any lengthened supension of the comforts of the Holy Spirit, let us not infer that the heart of Jesus is chilled in its affection. He best knows our need and how to meet it. Like a skillful and watchful physician, He adapts the remedy to the case. We may imagine we needed a word of comfort, when we needed a word of rebuke; a promise, when we required a warning; a check, when we looked for an impulse.
We are best in the Lord's hands, assured that He will administer no stimulant or corrective, no discipline, be it humbling or exalting, but it will be just that which the state of our soul demands. If we need reproof, He will send it; if comfort, He will impart it; if instruction or guidance, there shall be no delay and no lack on His part. Oh, to enter more deeply into the Lord's love to His people.
We now turn to this sorrow of His disciples, which, He so timely and tenderly sought to comfort, and in which we shall find much analogous to our own. Their grief and despondency arose from the fact of Christ's withdrawment from them. They prized His presence too well to part with it without regret. What is the darkest shadow upon the heart of a believer in Jesus? Is it not the eclipse of the Sun of Righteousness in his soul- the withdrawment of the sensible presence of his Beloved? If we know what it is to lean upon Him, rest in Him, converse with Him, to walk in the light as He is in the light, it is utterly impossible that even its momentary suspension should not leave its shadow.
My reader, the greatest good, this side of glory, is the sense of the presence of Jesus. What, then, must its withdrawment be to the believer but an occasion of the deepest sorrow? Sometimes that sorrow is rendered more acute from the recollection of the cause of Christ's withdrawment: His Beloved was forced away. His ingratitude and backslidings caused Him to withdraw; and this fact imparts intensity to the grief of a child of God. "Had it not been for my waywardness, He had not left me comfortless. My soul! it was your sin, your coldness, your neglect, which drove the Savior from your arms; and this is the bitterest ingredient in my cup of sorrow."
Perhaps the grief arises from the actual sense of the loss. He feels as if life were bereft of its sweetest, holiest charm. To this is added the fear, the haunting fear, that the Lord will not return to him again- that there will be no more such bright hours, no more sunny days- that now his Beloved, grieved and wounded, has taken His farewell, to return no more forever.
But now remark how graciously the Lord Jesus has anticipated, and how blessedly He has provided for this sorrow. The Lord will not leave His children orphans- that is, comfortless. A state of temporal orphanage is desolate- infinitely more a state of spiritual orphanage. "I will not leave you orphans. You shall not be lone and desolate, unshielded and comfortless. I know the shadow on your path, the sorrow of your heart, and I will, before I go hence, make provision for its need. I will not leave you comfortless."
And how does Christ meet this case? By teaching us to look up to God as our Father. He has put the words into your lips, "OUR FATHER, who is in heaven." Oh, remember, that when the consciousness of your desolate and lonely path fills you with gloom and despondency, it is your highest, sweetest privilege to draw near to God as to your heavenly Parent, and lean upon His heart as upon the heart of a loving Father; for God has not left you orphans. "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." Oh, this is our highest comfort- our filial relation to God, and to His parental relation to us. If, then, He is your Father, honor Him by going to Him as a loving, trustful child for all the supplies you need.
For one moment let us refer to the crowning promise of the text, "I will come to you." Observe, the great comfort with which Jesus sought to solace them was, His certain and personal return. "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." See how the Lord adapts His comfort to our sorrow. These disciples were mourning His absence from them. He assured them of His return. Oh, there is a beautiful and touching delicacy in Christ's comfort! He knows how to comfort.
Observe, again, the promise, "I will come to you." What a glorious light upon their gloomy path was this! "I will come to you." And does He not now come to us, beloved? Oh yes. He hastens to His people- comes to them in their sorrow. "For a small moment have I forsaken you; but with great mercies will I gather you." He returns to His wandering children, and heals their backslidings. He comes and dispels the clouds, and once more the sun shines upon their path. I may speak to some who have no light. My reader, Christ will not leave you comfortless; He will come to you. The light shall return, and the darkness withdraw.
But there is a reference in this promise to the Lord's Second Coming. "The coming of the Lord draws near." Personal and visible, He will appear the second time without sin unto salvation. It is but a little while and His glorious Advent will transpire. God is, by His providence, preparing the way of the Second Coming of the Lord. All the signs indicate its near approach. Oh, may we be found looking for, and hastening unto His coming.
In conclusion, receive the exhortation- let Jesus Christ be all in all to You! Oh, let nothing keep you from Christ and His comforts! Let no creature, or church, or ordinance, veil Him from your eye. Press through all to Christ! Cleave to Him, for He alone can cheer, guide, sanctify, and comfort you. Draw all your supplies from Christ, and press the precious promise to your heart, "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you."