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29 June, 2014

Christ in Adversities

Octavius Winslow, 1863

"Surely, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!" Matthew 28:20

In the temporal calamities and adversities of this life, in the vicissitudes of commerce, in the pressure of poverty — it is equally our privilege to plead in prayer and faith, this appropriate and precious promise of the Savior, and invoke His interposition, support, and aid.

Our Lord, when on earth, never showed Himself indifferent to the temporal necessities of man. We read that He had compassion on the multitude, because they had nothing to eat; and in the exercise of His sympathy, and in the interposition of His power — fed thousands with bread. He is still the same today.

Have your commercial transactions met with a reverse? Are you actually under the pressure of poverty — your wife and your little ones crying for bread? Go in prayer, my brother, and plead in childlike faith this gracious promise of Jesus, "Surely, I am with you always," and you shall not plead in vain.

Ah, yes! He has sent, He has permitted this calamity but to show you how near He is to you, how He will, as of old, tenderly compassionate your need, and then, in the boundlessness of His divine resources, abundantly supply it. See Christ, and Christ alone — in your present distress. Bow uncomplainingly, cheerfully, to His will. Lean confidingly, unwaveringly upon His arm. Trust His goodness, faithfulness, and power. And, oh, if this temporal calamity, this worldly sorrow — but draws your soul to Christ; if now you are aroused to prayer, and are led to turn to God, to seek spiritual blessing, the "bread of life," without which you perish, the "true riches" of grace on earth and of glory in heaven — then through eternity you will praise the Savior for the overwhelming calamity which saved your soul, as by fire.

Turn now, amid crushed hopes, wrecked fortune, the biting and the cries of poverty — to Him whose providence can cause the barrel of meal and the cruse of oil not utterly to fail, and whose grace can so sanctify your affliction and chasten your sorrow — as to make this present adversity the sweetest, holiest, costliest blessing of your life.

Yes! Christ is with you always — all your days! He is with you in the inexperience and temptations of your youth — to counsel and keep you! He is with you in the cares and anxieties of manhood — to sustain and soothe you! He is with you the feebleness, infirmity, and loneliness of old age — to be your staff and comfort. Christ is ever with you in widowhood — to vindicate your nights and cheer your desolation! He is with you in your lonely orphanage — to be to you as a father and a friend! He is with you in all the adversities and vicissitudes of life, its changing scenes and dying friends!

In the total absence of the kind sympathy for which you yearn, the affection for which you pant, the counsel and protection which you need — Christ will in your experience make good to the letter, His precious promise, "Surely, I am with you always!" Oh! to have His presence with you in these circumstances, you can well afford to part with all others.

You are perhaps anticipating a trial, and, like the disciples in the transfiguration — you fear as you enter into the cloud, the portentous shadow of which is darkening and closing around you. But how groundless were their fears! and equally so are yours. Christ was with them in the cloud, and a Father's voice issued from its bosom. Never were they more honored, or more safe. The same Christ, the same almighty, loving Friend — is with you in the cloud which now you so much dread. Oh, trust your trembling soul to Him!

Is it the heart's wrench you fear? Is it mental despondency you dread? Is it bodily suffering from which you shrink? Is it temporal loss you anticipate? "I am with you always!" is the soothing, assuring promise with which Jesus would have you meet it. He will strengthen, sustain, soothe, and comfort you — with His blissful presence at the moment of the trial. Trust Him now! He never yet belied Himself, never broke this precious promise in a solitary instance.

"As your day — so shall your strength be." "As your day!" His presence will dissipate the gloom, quell the fear, hush the murmur, deaden the suffering; and, thus encircled by His arms — He will bear you through it, to the eternal praise and glory of His name!

In all our distresses and adversities — Christ is ever with us. Friend of sinners! Lord of saints! my trembling spirit shrinks; I fear as I enter into this cloud! Be sensibly near me. Let me feel Your hand, hear Your voice, realize Your presence — then shall I fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff will support and comfort me. "Surely, I am with you; I will be with you. Fear not." Enough, my gracious Lord! I will now enter into the cloud; I will gird me for the trial, and, supported by Your grace and soothed by Your love — will glorify You in the fire!