"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"Unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above
all that we ask or think." Ephesians 3:20
Could the Israelites at Elim fail to recall their
immediately preceding wilderness experience? It was the depressing and
discouraging one at Marah, where their longings and hopes were mocked
with the bitter pool. But the God of the cloudy pillar made it the
occasion of manifesting His wondrous power and boundless resources, showing
that "with Him all things are possible." A tree cast into the acrid waters
transformed them into sweetness.
In all the difficulties, perplexities, and emergencies of
the spiritual life, we may well rest with the consolatory question, "Is
anything too hard for the Lord?"—rejoicing in Him, who, as the true Healing
Tree, changes—often reverses—the bitterest experiences. His hand is "never
shortened that it cannot save."
Wondrous and beautiful is the expression of the Great
Apostle which heads this meditation—that verse with its grand repetition of
words—its significant and touching repetition. See how the gradation rises.
See how he mounts, as by a golden ladder, to his magnificent climax! Christ
is "able to do," Christ is "able to do abundantly," Christ is
"able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think."—And then, as
if he had not unburdened his soul of the full truth, the "goodly matter" his
heart was composing, he adds another stone to the pyramid—"Exceeding
abundantly above all that we ask or think."
Let us rejoice in such a complete Savior as this,
sufficient for all temporal and all spiritual necessities: who can bind up
the broken body; who can bind up the broken soul; ease the aching head, and
quiet the aching spirit; who can reclaim the wandering and save the lost.
What earthly friend can help us so? Who else, but He, can fill with His
presence and love the gap in the sorrow-stricken heart? But He can;
He does! Lover and friend may be put far from us; what we once most
cherished and doted on may be stricken with inevitable change; the roof
where childhood reveled may be a heap of ruins, or inhabited by strangers;
the parents' arms that clasped us as we lisped our infant prayer, or which
smoothed our pillows in sickness, may be decaying in the dust; voices that
cheered us on the pilgrimage may be hushed in appalling silence.
But here is One who is Father, Brother, Physician,
Friend, Home, ALL! His power intervenes and upholds where other resources
fail or reveal their inadequacy. No storm can overturn that Home of
unblighted love! No envious whisper can estrange that true Friend!
No King of terrors can paralyze the Everlasting arms! "The Lord
lives, and blessed be my Rock, and let the God of my salvation exalted." Oh!
blessed it is for the broken and downcast in the hour of crushing
disappointment, or baffled plans, or defeated hope, or blighted affection:
or, more than all, in that moment of greatest agony, when returning from the
grave to the silent house of bereavement—entering the lessened fold, and
marking the empty place in the flock—blessed it is to feel the Abiding
Friend filling the empty place and the aching heart; challenging our
trust and reliance in His ability thus to do for us "exceeding abundantly."
Life's Elim-palms may be gone, but the Divine Pillar-cloud remains! "I will
never leave you; I will (lit.) never, never, never forsake you."
He gives too, not only above what we ask, but
above what we think. Whatever our thoughts may be, His
thoughts of love transcend them. Able to do for us, and willing
to do for us, in a measure exceeding our highest conceptions. What a
treasure-house of thoughts is every human bosom! What a strange history it
would be (of hope, joy, fear, sadness, and brightness), were each heart
unfolded! But it is, indeed, a precious assurance to every child of God,
that for every thought of his (be they anxious, disquieting,
misgiving), there is a counterpart comfort. For the multitude of thoughts
there is a corresponding multitude of consolations! "Many, O Lord my
God, are Your thoughts which are toward us. The things You planned
for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they
would be too many to declare." No, truly, God's comforting thoughts outweigh
and outbalance all our experiences of sadness and sorrow. "For a small
moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies will I gather you. In a
little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting
kindness will I have mercy on you!"
"Great our need, but greater far
Is our Father's loving power;
He upholds each mighty star,
He unfolds each tiny flower.
Ask not how, but trust Him still;
Ask not when, but wait His will;
Simply on His word rely,
God shall all your need supply.
"Can we count redemption's treasure,
Scan the glory of God's love?
Such shall be the boundless measure
Of His blessing from above.
All we ask, or think, and more,
He will give in bounteous store;
No good thing will He deny,
God shall all your need supply."
"Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been
good to you."