“Fear not, thou worm Jacob … I will make thee a threshing instrument with teeth.” (Isa. 41:14, 15.)
COULD any two things be in greater contrast than a worm and an instrument with teeth? The worm is delicate, bruised by a stone, crushed beneath the passing wheel; an instrument with teeth can break and not be broken; it can grave its mark upon the rock. And the mighty God can convert the one into the other. He can take a man or a nation, who has all the impotence of the worm, and by the invigoration of His own Spirit, He can endow with strength by which a noble mark is left upon the history of the time. And so the “worm” may take heart. The mighty God can make us stronger than our circumstances. He can bend them all to our good. In God’s strength we can make them all pay tribute to our souls. We can even take hold of a black disappointment, break it open, and extract some jewel of grace. When God gives us wills like iron, we can drive through difficulties as the iron share cuts through the toughest soil. “I will make thee,” and shall He not do it?—Dr. Jowett. Christ is building His kingdom with earth’s broken things. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken, in building their kingdoms; but God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth’s broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory.—J. R. Miller.
“Follow Me, and I will make you” …
Make you speak My words with power,
Make you channels of My mercy,
Make you helpful every hour.
“Follow Me, and I will make you” …
Make you what you cannot be—
Make you loving, trustful, godly,
Make you even like to Me.
“Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.” (Exod. 20:21.)
GOD has still His hidden secrets, hidden from the wise and prudent. Do not fear them; be content to accept things that you cannot understand; wait patiently. Presently He will reveal to you the treasures of darkness, the riches of the glory of the mystery. Mystery is only the veil of God’s face. Do not be afraid to enter the cloud that is settling down on your life. God is in it. The other side is radiant with His glory. “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” When you seem loneliest and most forsaken, God is nigh. He is in the dark cloud. Plunge into the blackness of its darkness without flinching; under the shrouding curtain of His pavilion you will find God awaiting you. —Selected. “Hast thou a cloud? Something that is dark and full of dread; A messenger of tempest overhead? A something that is darkening the sky; A something growing darker bye and bye; A something that thou fear’st will burst at last; A cloud that doth a deep, long shadow cast, God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
It is Jehovah’s triumph car: in this
He rideth to thee, o’er the wide abyss.
It is the robe in which He wraps His form;
For He doth gird Him with the flashing storm.
It is the veil in which He hides the light
Of His fair face, too dazzling for thy sight.
God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
A trial that is terrible to thee?
A black temptation threatening to see?
A loss of some dear one long thine own?
A mist, a veiling, bringing the unknown?
A mystery that unsubstantial seems:
A cloud between thee and the sun’s bright beams?
God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
A sickness—weak old age—distress and death?
These clouds will scatter at thy last faint breath.
Fear not the clouds that hover o’er thy barque,
Making the harbour’s entrance dire and dark;
The cloud of death, though misty, chill and cold,
Will yet grow radiant with a fringe of gold.
GOD cometh in that cloud.”
As Dr. C. stood on a high peak of the Rocky Mountains watching a storm raging below him, an eagle came up through the clouds, and soared away towards the sun and the water upon him glistened in the sunlight like diamonds. Had it not been for the storm he might have remained in the valley. The sorrows of life cause us to rise towards God.
“Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” (Rev. 15:3.)
THE following incident is related by Mrs. Charles Spurgeon, who was a great sufferer for more than a quarter of a century: “At the close of a dark and gloomy day, I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on; and though all was bright within my cozy room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the Hand which I knew held mine, and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked, “ ‘Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?’ “These fretful questions were quickly answered, and through a strange language; no interpreter was needed save the conscious whisper of my heart. “For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of the oak log burning’ in the fireplace. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window. “ ‘What can it be? surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night.’ “Again came the faint, plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke our wonder. My friend exclaimed, “ ‘It comes from the log on the fire!’ The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak’s inmost heart! “Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all was well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold. But he had grown old since then, and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody, until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness, and the vehement heart of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice. ‘Ah,’ thought I, ‘when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified!’ “Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log, cold, hard, insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds, were it not for the fire which kindles around us, and releases notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will. “ ‘As I mused the fire burned,’ and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set forth before me. “Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.”
“The Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. … Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste. … And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red, sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.” (Exod. 10:13, 19.)
SEE how in the olden times, when the Lord fought for Israel against the cruel Pharaoh, the stormy winds wrought out their deliverance; and yet again, in that grandest display of power—the last blow that God struck at the proud defiance of Egypt. A strange, almost cruel thing it must have seemed to Israel to be hemmed in by such a host of dangers—in front the wild sea defying them, on either hand the rocky heights cutting off all hope of escape, the night of hurricane gathering over them. It was as if that first deliverance had come only to hand them over to more certain death. Completing the terror there rang out the cry: “The Egyptians are upon us!” When it seemed they were trapped for the foe, then came the glorious triumph. Forth swept the stormy wind and beat back the waves, and the hosts of Israel marched forward, down into the path of the great deep—a way arched over with God’s protecting love. On either hand were the crystal walls glowing in the light of the glory of the Lord; and high above them swept the thunder of the storm. So on through all that night; and when, at dawn of the next day, the last of Israel’s host set foot upon the other shore, the work of the stormy wind was done. Then sang Israel unto the Lord the song of the “stormy wind fulfilling his word.” “The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil. … Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.” One day, by God’s great mercy, we, too, shall stand upon the sea of glass, having the harps of God. Then we shall sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” We shall know then how the stormy winds have wrought out our deliverance. Now you see only the mystery of this great sorrow; then you shall see how the threatening enemy was swept away in the wild night of fear and grief. Now you look only at the loss; then you shall see how it struck at the evil that had begun to rivet its fetters upon you. Now you shrink from the howling winds and muttering thunders; then you shall see how they beat back the waters of destruction, and opened up your way to the goodly land of promise.—Mark Guy Pearse.
“Though winds are wild,
And the gale unleashed,
My trusting heart still sings:
I know that they mean
No harm to me,
He rideth on their wings.”
“Now it came to pass after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now, therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people.” (Joshua 1:1, 2.)
SORROW came to you yesterday, and emptied your home. Your first impulse now is to give up, and sit down in despair amid the wrecks of your hopes. But you dare not do it. You are in the line of battle, and the crisis is at hand. To falter a moment would be to imperil some holy interest. Other lives would be harmed by your pausing, holy interests would suffer, should your hands be folded. You must not linger even to indulge your grief. A distinguished general related this pathetic incident of his own experience in time of war. The general’s son was a lieutenant of battery. An assault was in progress. The father was leading his division in a charge; as he pressed on in the field, suddenly his eye was caught by the sight of a dead battery-officer lying just before him. One glance showed him it was his own son. His fatherly impulse was to stop beside the loved form and give vent to his grief, but the duty of the moment demanded that he should press on in the charge; so, quickly snatching one hot kiss from the dead lips, he hastened away, leading his command in the assault. Weeping inconsolably beside a grave can never give back love’s banished treasure, nor can any blessing come out of such sadness. Sorrow makes deep scars; it writes its record ineffaceably on the heart which suffers. We really never get over our great griefs; we are never altogether the same after we have passed through them as we were before. Yet there is a humanizing and fertilizing influence in sorrow which has been rightly accepted and. cheerfully borne. Indeed, they are poor who have never suffered, and have none of sorrow’s marks upon them. The joy set before us should shine upon our grief as the sun shines through the clouds, glorifying them. God has so ordered, that in pressing on in duty we shall find the truest, richest comfort for ourselves. Sitting down to brood over our sorrows, the darkness deepens about us and creeps into our heart, and our strength changes to weakness. But, if we turn away from the gloom, and take up the tasks and duties to which God calls us, the light will come again, and we shall grow stronger. —J. R. Miller. Thou knowest that through our tears Of hasty, selfish weeping Comes surer sin, and for our petty fears Of loss thou hast in keeping A greater gain than all of which we dreamed; Thou knowest that in grasping The bright possessions which so precious seemed We lose them; but if, clasping Thy faithful hand, we tread with steadfast feet The path of thy appointing, There waits for us a treasury of sweet Delight, royal anointing With oil of gladness and of strength. —Helen Hunt Jackson