"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"As a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God
disciplines you." Deuteronomy 8:5
Come, child of affliction, and seat yourself under the
shadow of this precious verse—this sheltering palm. God disciplines you as a
parent. "Can anything," says Harrington Evans, in one of his many brief
aphorisms, "dry up tears like this—'my Father'?"
When an earthly parent uses the rod, he may, like Joseph
to his brethren, speak and act with apparent roughness; but who can tell the
pangs that all the while are rending his heart—the yearning love with which
he regards his prodigal at the very moment he is chastising him! The rod
is in a Father's hands—"If you endure chastening, God deals with you as
with sons." An earthly father may act capriciously—from impulse and
passion. God never can, never does. An earthly father may misunderstand his
child; he may deal with unnecessary severity; he may use words of harshness
when more wholesome and considerate would have been words of kindness.
Not so is it with Him who says, "I will discipline you,
but only with justice." He measures out every drop in the cup.
He wisely and lovingly adapts His dealings to the case, necessities,
and emergencies of His people. "As a father"—yes, we may truly say,
more tenderly than a father—"has compassion on his children, so the Lord has
compassion on those who fear Him; for He (unlike the kindest earthly parent)
knows how we are formed—He remembers that we are dust."
Surely this is, after all, Christianity's noblest and
most precious revelation of God. The revelation of Him as a Spirit—the Great
Unseen, Unknown, Untraceable, Intangible—everywhere present, beneath,
around, about me—with the eye of unerring scrutiny searching the secret
labyrinths of the heart—how grand, solemn, awe-inspiring! "Where shall I go
from Your Spirit, or where shall I flee from Your presence?" But God the
FATHER—my Father—the feeling of awe encompassing the Supreme,
melts into affection. That All-Seeing One is the archetype of the
dearest of human relations—the earthly parent is the shadowy image of the
Specially in the season of affliction, to which our
motto-verse refers, is that name suggestive of tenderest consolation. Who,
of all the family, does the parent on earth most love and anxiously care
for? Is it not the sick and suffering child? The strong shrubs are left to
grapple with the storm; it is the weak and fragile ones that are specially
tended and sheltered from biting frost or scorching sun. The ninety-nine are
left by the shepherd to roam at will, untended, on the mountainside; but the
one, foot-sore, fleece-torn wanderer—the one sick or wounded—he grudges no
length of journey to support, or to bear back on his shoulder, rejoicing, to
Sorrowing one, it is on you this great God
lavishes His deepest, profoundest sympathy. You are the battered flower He
loves most to tend—you are the drooping member of the flock whose wounds He
loves most to bind up. As one whom his "father has compassion" (Ps.
103:13), "as one whom his mother comforts" (Isa. 66:13). Repose in
quiet confidence under His Heavenly discipline. If even now He is
disciplining you, do not seek to accuse or question the infinite love and
wisdom of His dealings; but, remembering in whose hand is the rod, be it
yours to say, with unmurmuring lips—"YOUR WILL BE DONE."
"The way is dark, my Father! Cloud on cloud
Is gathering thickly o'er my head, and loud
The thunders roar above me. See, I stand
Like one bewildered! Father! take my hand.
"The way is dark, my child! but leads to light;
I would not always have you walk by sight.
My dealings now you can not understand,
I meant it so; but I will take your hand.
"The day goes fast, my Father! and the night
Is drawing darkly down. My faithless sight
Sees ghostly visions: fears, a spectral band,
Encompass me. O Father! take my hand.
"The day goes fast, my child! But is the night
Darker to Me than day? In Me is light!
Keep close to Me, and every spectral band
Of fears shall vanish. I will take your hand.
"The way is long, my Father! and my soul
Longs for the rest and quiet of the goal.
While yet I journey through this weary land,
Keep me from wandering. Father! take my hand.
"The way is long, my child! But it shall be
Not one step longer than is best for thee;
And you shall know, at last, when you shall stand
Safe at the goal, how I did take your hand."
"Yes, Father, for this was Your good pleasure."