"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose"—

"But He knows the way that I take." Job 23:10

The shadow of a palm of blessed consolation and comfort, under which sat blessed old Job.

The Book of Job has been well defined to be "the record of an earnest soul's perplexities, where the double difficulty of life is solved—the existence of moral evil, and the question whether suffering is a mark of God's wrath or not. What falls from Job's lips is the musing of a man half-stunned, half-surprised, looking out upon the darkness of life, and asking sorrowfully, 'Why are these things so?'" In his checkered experience he loses at times the footsteps of a God of love. Through anguished tears he gives voice to his soul-trouble, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him." "If I go to the east, He is not there; and if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him" (Job 23:8, 9).

But though to sense and sight all is dark, faith rises to the ascendant, and, piercing the environing cloud, her voice is heard, "But He knows the way that I take." All that Providential drama is arranged by Him—life, with all its lights and shadows, its joys and its sorrows. It is enough for the sufferer to be assured that his path and lot are not the result of wayward and capricious accident. The furnace (to take the new figure employed in the same verse) is lighted by the God whose hand was for the moment hidden; and that same faith can add, "When He has tried me, I will come forth as gold."

Believer! what a glorious assurance! This way of yours—this, it may be crooked, mysterious, tangled way—this way of trial and of tears, "the way of the wilderness"—"He knows it." The furnace, seven times heated—He lighted it. Oh! how would every sorrow and loss be aggravated and embittered if we had nothing to cling to but the theory of arbitrary appointment and dreary fatalism! But we may take courage. There is an Almighty Guide knowing and directing our footsteps, whether it be to the bitter pool of Marah, or to the joy and refreshment of Elim. That way, dark to the Egyptians, has its pillar of cloud and fire for His own Israel. The furnace is hot; but not only can we trust the hand that kindles it, but we have the assurance that the fires are lit not to consume, but to refine; and that when the refining process is completed (no sooner—no later), He brings His people forth as gold. When they think Him least near, He is often nearest. "When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way."

Can we realize these truths in our everyday experience? Can we think of God, not as some mysterious essence, who, by an Almighty fiat, impressed on matter certain general laws, and, retiring into the solitude of His being, left these to work out their own processes: but is there joy to us in the thought of His being always near; encircling our path and our lying down? Do we know of One brighter than the brightest radiance of the visible sun, visiting our room with the first waking beam of the morning: an eye of infinite tenderness and compassion following us throughout the day, "knowing the way that we take;" a hand of infinite love guiding us, shielding us from danger, and guarding us from temptation—"The keeper of Israel who neither slumbers nor sleeps?" Yes, too, and when the furnace is lit, seeing HIM not only kindling it, but seated by, as "the refiner of silver," tempering the fury of the flames?

The world, in their cold vocabulary in the hour of adversity, speaks of "Providence"—"the will of Providence"—"the strokes of Providence." PROVIDENCE! what is that? Why dethrone a living, directing God from the sovereignty of His own earth? Why substitute an inanimate, deathlike abstraction, in place of an acting, controlling, Personal Jehovah? Why forbid the Angel of bereavement to point his hand up the golden steps of "the misty stair," to "the God above the ladder," saying, "Our Father on high has done it!"?

How it would take the sting from many a sharp trial, thus to see, what the same patriarch saw, (in his hour of aggravated woe, when every earthly Elim-palm lay prostrate at his feet with stripped and withered branches)—no hand but the Divine. He saw that Divine hand behind the gleaming swords of the Sabeans—he saw it behind the lightning-flash—he saw it giving wings to the rushing tempest—he saw it in the awful silence of his plundered home—"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!" Thus seeing God in everything, his faith reached its climax when this once-powerful prince of the desert, seated on his ashes, could say, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him!"

We joyfully believe the day is coming when we shall write under every mysterious providence, "He has done all things well." Yes, bereaved ones, you shall no more weep over early graves, when you yourselves pass upwards to the realms of glory, and hear from the loved and glorified as they are waiting to greet you at the door of heaven, that by an early death they were "taken away from the evil to come." Meanwhile let us rejoice in the assurance, that "the Lord reigns!"—that He knows and appoints "the way" both for ourselves and for others. Oh, comforting thought! enough to dry all tears and silence all murmurings—"Is there evil in the city," in the cottage, in the palace—is there evil which blights some unknown poor man's dwelling—is there evil which clothes a nation in mourning, "and the Lord has not done it"?

"If all things work together
For ends so grand and blest,
What need to wonder, whether
Each in itself is blest?

"If some things were omitted
Or altered as we would,
The whole might be unfitted
To work for perfect good.

"Our plans may be disjointed,
But we may calmly rest;
What God has once appointed,
Is better than our best."

"Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths."

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