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

"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline." Revelation 3:19

What! speak of rest and refreshment when, it may be, the ringing sound of the axe is heard amid cherished earthly palm-groves all around, and the sands are strewn with lopped branches and scattered leaves! Yes. It is even so. "The wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more! But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear Him" (Ps. 103:16, 17).

The words of our motto-verse, too, observe, were spoken, not by the lips of Christ the Sufferer on earth, but by the glorified lips of Christ the Exalted King. They are whisperings of the Heavenly Palm, which come wafted to us from the groves of Paradise.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful!" The divine dispensations are often incomprehensible. Jehovah's name to His people is at times that which He gave to Manoah—"Wonderful," "Secret," "Mysterious." That corroding sickness, that wasting heritage of pain, these long tossings on a fevered, sleepless pillow; where can there be love or mercy there? But the silence and loneliness of the sickbed is the figurative "wilderness," where He "allures" that He may "speak tenderly to them, and give them back their vineyards" (Hosea 2:14, 15); rousing them from the low dream of earth, from the base and the worldly, from busy care and debasing concern, to the divine and the heavenly.

Or, that unexpected heritage of poverty—the crash of earthly fortune, the forfeiture of earthly gain, the stripping the walls of cherished and familiar treasure, and sending those nursed in the lap of luxury, penniless on the world—where is there mercy or love here? But it is through this beneficial, though rough discipline, that He weans from the debilitating influence of prosperity, leading them to exchange the pot of earthly stew, for the bread of life—perishable substance for the fine gold of heavenly gain and durable riches.

Or, that cruel blighting of young hope and pure affection—the withering of some cherished Elim-palm; the opening of early graves for the loving and beloved; holiest ties formed, but the memory of which is all that remains; where is there kindness and mercy in creating bonds only to sever them, raising up friends only to bury them? The plaintive experience and utterance of the lone mother in Israel is that of many—"Don't call me Naomi, call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter" (Ruth 1:20).

But the streamlets are dried by Him, in order to lead to the great Fountain-head; the links of earthly affection are broken, in order that stronger and more enduring ones may be formed above; the cracks have been made in the house of clay, only to render more inviting "the building of God—the house not made with hands;" stimulating to live more for that world where all is perfection, where we shall stand "without fault before the throne."

A writer notes, that migratory birds are carried high by contrary winds, and that, by being so carried, their flight is assisted. So is it with trial. "The wind is contrary," but it impels to an upward and a God-ward flight. As it is often in the cloudy and rainy day that the mountains look near us, so often in the soul's gloomiest seasons the hills of God are brought nearest. Tribulation is the first link in the Apostle's golden chain. Dr. Trench, in his "Study of Words," tells us that "tribulation" is derived from the Latin tribulum, which was the machine by which the grain was sifted. Tribulation is the process of sifting, by which God clears away the chaff and the golden grain is retained. See, too, the gracious result of this sifting process. 'Tribulation,' to use the comment of an earnest speaker in applying the reference, 'works, what? We might have expected the natural result, 'impatience.' It is the reverse; by the imparted grace of Him in whose hands the tribulum is, "tribulation works patience"' (Rom.5:3).

Suffering Christian, you may well trust Him who uttered the surprising saying which heads this meditation—who gave the mightiest pledge of love He could give, by giving His own life—that there is some all-wise "needs be" in the trials He has laid upon you. They are designed to bring you nearer to Himself. They are His own appointed gateways, opening up and admitting to great spiritual blessings. Be assured the day will come, when these mysteries in your present lot will extract nothing from your lips but grateful praise; when you shall joyfully testify—'Had it not been for these wilderness experiences; that lengthy illness, that loss of worldly position, the death of that dear relative or friend, I would still have been clinging to earth as my portion, content with the polluted stream and the broken cistern, instead of drawing water out of the wells of salvation.'

An earthly father often demonstrates a false leniency by never giving the needful rebuke which, timely given, might have averted many a bitter life-sorrow. God rebukes and disciplines just because He loves; and never is His love more tender than when the rod is in His hand and the rebuke on His lips. The rebukes of an earthly father are often poorly timed—the result, it may be, of passion or impulse. "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness" (Heb. 12:10). These withered branches, stripped from some favorite grove in the valley, may yet, afflicted one, form, in your case, the imagery of that sublime picture of the future, where the sainted multitude in the upper sanctuary are seen "clothed with white robes and palms in their hands."

God our Maker, God the Almighty Chastener, is said to give "songs in the night." The birds of earth which "sing among the branches" are silent except in the daytime; but the boughs of these Elim-palms seem most alive with melody in hours of darkness. In the gloom of sorrow, their fronds may appear only to be dripping with rain, when they are in truth laden with the night-distilled dews of heaven!

"How could a moment's pang destroy
My heart's confirmed repose in Thee?
Your presence is sufficient joy
To one reclaimed and spared like me.
It is enough that I am Thine,
Almighty to redeem from sin;
You shall subdue, correct, refine
The soul which You have died to win.
I see the desolated ground
With dews of heavenly kindness fed,
And fruits of joy and love surround
The heart which You have comforted."

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

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