September 21: Zion’s Mourners

“And you said, I will surely do you good.” Genesis 32:12

God, in the administration of His all-wise, all-righteous, all-beneficent government, has night seasons as well as day—seasons of darkness as well as seasons of light—and in both He must be contemplated, studied, and known.

As the night reveals glories in the firmament, which the day concealed, so dark dispensations of Divine Providence bring to the believer’s eye, as viewed through the telescope of faith, glories in the character and wonders in the government of Jehovah, which the milder and brighter displays of Himself had veiled from the eye.

Oh, beloved, how scanty were our experience of God—how limited our knowledge of His love, wisdom, and power—how little should we know of Jesus, our best Friend, the Beloved of our souls, did we know Him only in mercy, and not also in judgment—were there no lowering skies, no night of weeping, no shady paths, no rough places, no cloud-tracings, no seasons of lonely sorrow, of pressing need, and of fierce temptation. “In the way of Your judgments, O Lord, have we waited for You; the desire of our soul is to Your name, and to the remembrance of You.”

Nor should we overlook the full play and exercise of faith which occurrences, to us dark, discrepant, and mysterious, call into operation. Faith in God is the most precious, wondrous, and fruitful grace of the Holy Spirit in the renewed soul. Its worth is beyond all price. Its possession is cheap at any cost. One saving view of Jesus—one dim vision of the cross—one believing touch of the Savior—a single grain of this priceless gold—millions of rubies were as nothing to it. Then were its exercise and trial good. And but for its trial how uncertain would it be!

Were there no circumstances alarming in the aspect they assume—somber in the form they wear—rude in the voice they utter—events which threaten our happiness and well-being—which seem to dry our springs, wither our flowers, blight our fruits, and drape life’s landscape in gloom—how limited would be the sphere of faith! It is the province of this mighty grace to pierce thick clouds, to scale high walls, to walk in the dark, to pass unhurt through fire, to smile at improbabilities, and to master impossibilities.

As the mariner’s compass guides the ship, coursing its way over the ocean, as truly and as safely in the starless night as in the meridian day, so faith—the needle of the soul—directs us safely, and points the believer in his right course homewards as truly, in the gloomiest as in the brightest hour. Oh, how little are we aware of the real blessings that flow to us through believing! God asks of us nothing but faith; for where there is faith in the Lord Jesus there is love—and where there is, love there is obedience—and where there is obedience there is happiness—and where there is happiness, the soul can even rejoice in tribulation, and sit and sing sweetly and merrily in adversity, like a bird amid the boughs whose green foliage the frost has nipped, and the autumnal blast has scattered.

It is God’s sole prerogative to reduce good from seeming evil—to order and overrule all events of an untoward nature, and of a threatening aspect, for the accomplishment of the most beneficent ends. This He is perpetually doing with reference to His saints. The Spirit of love broods over the chaotic waters, and life’s dark landscape appears like a new-born existence. The curse is turned into a blessing—the discordant notes breathe the sweetest music.

You marvel how this can be. What is impossible with man is more than possible with God. Often in your silent musings over some untoward event in your life, sad in its nature, and threatening in its look, have you asked, “What possible good can result from this? It seems utterly opposed to my interests, and hostile to my happiness. It appears an unmixed, unmitigated evil.”

Be still! Let not your heart fret against the Lord and against His dealings—all things in your history are for your good—and this calamity, this affliction, this loss, is among the “all things.” The extraction of the curse from everything appertaining to the child of God converts everything into a blessing. Christ has so completely annihilated the curse by obedience, and has so entirely put away sin by suffering, nothing is left of real, positive evil, in the dealings of God with His church.

Jesus, because His love was so great, did all, endured all, finished all; and it is not only in the heart of God, but it is in the power of God—a power exerted in alliance with every perfection of His being—to cause all events to conspire to promote our present and eternal happiness. I cannot see how God will work it, or when He will accomplish it, but assured that I am His pardoned, adopted child, I can calmly leave the issue of all things in my life with Him; confident that, however complicated may be the web of His providence, however hostile the attitude or discouraging the aspect of events, all, all under the government and overruling will of my Heavenly Father are working together for my good. The result, then, of this matter, my God, I leave with You.

“Your ways, O Lord, with wise design,
Are framed upon Your throne above,
And every dark and bending line
Meets in the center of Your love.”

What is there of good we need, or of evil we dread, which God’s heart will withhold, or His power cannot avert? Oh, it is in the heart of our covenant God to lavish every good upon us—to “withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly.”

Lord, lead us into Your love—Your love infinite, Your love unfathomable, Your love hidden and changeless as Your nature!

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