5. TENDER REMONSTRANCE
"How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God!"
O Israel, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? How can you say God refuses to hear your case? Have you never heard or understood? Don't you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. Isaiah 40:27-28
Here is a thought of desponding man, in contrast with a "thought of God." No, not only so; it is an ungrateful thought of God's own people. It is "Jacob,"—"Israel,"—who are guilty of these unworthy complainings. They question the rectitude of His dispensations. "Surely," is the language of their doubting hearts, He cannot be cognizant of our situation—our trials—our temptations—our perplexities—otherwise He would long before now have come to our relief—"Surely the Lord does not see my troubles, and God refuses to hear my case."
So thought Gideon in his hour of faithless despondency, when Israel had been ground down for seven years by the oppression of the Midianites—"If the Lord is with us, why then is all this befallen us?" So thought David, in the wilds of Gilead, when, a broken-hearted exile, he repeated through his anguished tears the challenge of his enemies, who continually said unto him,"Where is your God?" So thought Asaph in his moments of guilty unbelief, when he saw the wicked prospering and the righteous suffering. Misjudging and misinterpreting the divine procedure, "his feet were almost gone—his steps had well-near slipped;" he "remembered God and was troubled;" and amid the misery of unbelieving thoughts, exclaimed, "Has God forgotten to be gracious? has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?"
So thought Martha and Mary in the extremity of their grief, after they had sent prayer and messenger in vain, and were still left unsupported in their agony. They had ever fondly trusted that mighty Heart of divine tenderness. But how could they trust it now, in these mysterious moments of blank despair? If He had indeed 'loved' them and their lost one, why could Jesus, "abide two days still in the same place where He was?" Could there be kindness—could there be anything but forgetfulness in this strange prolonged absence? Surely, was their hasty, unworthy surmise—'our way is hidden from Him, He has passed over and overlooked our case and our cause!' No, O desponding ones! "My thoughts are not your thoughts." "I am the Lord; I change not." You have fainted and grown weary of Me; but I, the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth—have not fainted, and never can faint or grow weary of you!
Go, Gideon, on your deliverance-mission, trusting in My sure word; and out of weakness you shall be made strong, become valiant in fight, and turn to flight the armies of the aliens. Go, fainting pilgrim of Gilead, take down your harp from the willows—sing the Lord's song even in that strange land, for He will soon turn for you your mourning into dancing—take off your sackcloth, and gird you with gladness.
Go, mourning psalmist of the olden temple, "call to remembrance your song in the night," "commune with your own heart," and thus rebuke your peevish murmurings, "This is my infirmity, but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High."
Go, mourning sisters of Bethany, go forth to meet the lingering steps of 'the Brother born for adversity.' Dry these unkind, distrustful tears. There are wise, though yet undeveloped reasons, which both you and the Church will yet learn to appreciate, for these two long days of unsuccoured sorrow. Imagine anything but this—"Your God has forsaken you, and your Lord has forgotten you!"
Believer, trust the divine faithfulness in the dark—trust where sight and sense fail to trace. Think especially of the mighty God, yet Brother-man, who has left this last promise legacy—"Surely, I am with you always." He ever lives and ever loves—the true Moses on the mount, whose hands never grow heavy. Oh, amid the fainting and failing of what may be dearest to you in earthly love; be this your sublime solace amid all trials and all changes—"He faints not, neither is weary."
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You! Isaiah 26:3