The Mournful Complaint
"The Comforter who should relieve my soul is far from me." Lamentations 1:16
The Holy Spirit is the appointed and recognized Comforter of the church of God; it is His work to bring home and apply the consolations of the gospel. For this work He is peculiarly fitted. He has infinite wisdom to solve all our difficulties and doubts. He has power to animate and cheer the soul. He has love and tenderness to sympathize and bear with our manners. He is omnipresent, and therefore we are always under His eye. He is the supreme God, one with the Father and the Son; the object of love, trust, and worship.
It is His work, in the economy of redemption, to relieve the soul . . .
from guilt and darkness — which is done by bringing home and applying the atonement;
from doubt and fear — which is by unfolding and applying the promises;
from every species of bondage — by revealing the perfect work of Christ, and the paternal character of God.
He often relieves the soul . . .
by assisting in prayer;
by strengthening our faith;
by speaking peace through the blood of Jesus; and
by leading us to recline on the bosom of divine faithfulness.
He brings back the soul from all its wanderings, by afflictions, or His work within — and leads into the paths of peace, liberty, and obedience. The saints of old had realized and obeyed the power and peaceful operations of the Spirit; but now they cry, "The Comforter who should relieve my soul is far from me!"
We are not strangers to this experience; few ever enjoyed the presence of the Spirit — but they had to mourn His absence. He at such times withholds His help in prayer — and then it is but a dry duty; we feel no nearness to God; no sweet drawing out of the soul; no fervor; no taking hold of the promise and pleading it in confidence; no delightful fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. All is dry and barren. The closet becomes a dull place; and the soul is ready to cry out of the duty, "What a weariness it is!" The very gift of prayer seems diminished, while the grace appears quite gone.
He refuses His presence in ordinances — and then there are no sweet glimpses of Jesus; no tastes of divine love; no sealing of the Word on the heart; but all is lifeless, tedious, and dull!
He denies His teaching when we read the Word — and then the holy book appears stripped of its value, importance, and beauty; we read without interest, profit, or enjoyment. It is like attempting to read in the dark, or to eat when there is no appetite.
He leaves us to suffer as though alone — and then there is no light arising in the darkness, no cheering hope in the gloom; no bright prospect opening in the distance; but all is dreary dark, and painful.
Now we learn by bitter experience, our dependence on the Holy Spirit — and our need of His presence, assistance, and love.
The Comforter withdraws on account of sin. It grieves Him — it pains Him at His heart! It is a defiling of His temple, a quenching His influences, a grieving His love! He loves the believer — but He hates and will reprove his sin.
There is no relief or consolation in His absence. No one can supply His place. If He departs, our comfort is gone — our strength is gone; and we have only the lifeless form of religion left.
It is our mercy that He never entirely departs — though He retires to a distance. He never finally leaves — though He may suspend his comforting influences for a long time.
Dear friend, is it so, that our comfort, peace and prosperity depend thus on the Holy Spirit? Then how careful we should be not to grieve Him — how anxious we should be to please Him! We should constantly remember that though our comforts flow from the Father — who is the God of all comfort; and come to us through the Son — who is the consolation of Israel; yet they can only be directed into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.