The harder the trial in deed, the greater the love in need! It adds quite a bit to the difficulty of the believer, that most of mankind will not choose to be right with God (Mat 7:13, 14), but He is not interested in numbers—and neither should we be. It’s not what happens to us, or all which we encounter that is at issue, but how we respond. If we know that nothing escapes God’s controlling it for our “good” (Ro 8:28), what acceptable excuse could there be for chronic disappointment? Our encouragement is knowing that what He allows—He orchestrates according to His purpose. The obvious worth in the foreknowledge concerning the perishing of the “many” is in the same foreknowledge of gaining the “few” (Luk 15:10).
Narrow Path—Wide Heart
It has been one of our great difficulties at the present time—indeed it has ever been a difficulty—to combine a narrow path with a wide heart. There is very much, on all sides, tending to produce isolation. We cannot deny it. Links of human friendship seem so fragile; so many things crop up to shake confidence; so many things which one cannot possibly sanction, that the path becomes more and more isolated.
All this is unquestionably true. But we must be very careful as to how we meet this condition of things. We have little idea how much depends on the spirit in which we carry ourselves in the midst of scenes and circumstances which, all must admit, are peculiarly trying.
For example, I may retire in upon myself, and become bitter, morose, severe, repulsive, withered up having no heart for the Lord’s people, for His service, for the helpful fellowship of the church. I may become barren of good works, having no sympathy with the poor, the sick, the sorrowful; living in the narrow circle within which I have retired, thinking only of myself my personal family interests.
What, we may well inquire, can be more miserable than this? It is simply the most deplorable selfishness; but we do not see it, because we are blinded by our inordinate occupation with other people’s failures.
Now it is a very easy matter to find our flaws, foibles and faults in our brethren and friends. But the question is, how are we to meet these things? Is it by retiring in upon ourselves? Never! To do this is to render ourselves as miserable in ourselves as we are worthless, and worse than worthless to others. There are few things more pitiable than what we call “a disappointed man.” He is always finding fault with others. He has never discovered the real root of the matter, or the true secret of dealing with it. He has retired, but it is in upon himself.
He is isolated, but his isolation is utterly false. He is miserable; and he will make all who come under his influence—all who are weak and foolish enough to listen to him—as miserable as himself. He has completely broken down in his practical career; he has succumbed to the difficulties of his time, and proved himself wholly unequal to meet the stern realities of actual life. And then, instead of seeing and confessing this, he retires into his own narrow circle, and finds fault with everyone except himself.
How truly delightful and refreshing to turn from this dismal picture to the only perfect Man that ever walked this earth! His path was indeed an isolated one—none more so. He received no sympathy from the scene around Him. “He came unto His own (Israel), and His own received Him not.” Even His own beloved disciples failed to sympathize with Him, or understand Him (that is, sufficiently so—NC). They slept on the mount of transfiguration, in the presence of His glory; and they slept in the garden of Gethsemane in the presence of His agony.
How did He meet all this? In perfect grace, patience and tenderness. He made allowances for their infirmities; He gave them credit for devotedness in the moment of desertion; He looked at them through His own loving eyes, and loved them, notwithstanding all. “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (Jhn 13:1).
Let us abide in the One, our very Life (Col 3:4); and then our isolation will be of the right kind, and though our path may be narrow, out heart will be wide.
—C A Coats (1862-1945)
MJS devotional excerpt for Jan 19
“Once we come to rest in the fact of what He has accomplished for us in Christ, there need be no concern as to how and when He will carry it out in our daily life.” -MJS
“How many a child of God remains weak and timid because, instead of being occupied with what God has promised, he is considering how it can be fulfilled. But we have nothing to do with the how; it is enough that our Father has given us His Word. Whatever, therefore, may be the nature of the suffering or trial through which we have to pass, let us ever account that God is able to fulfill all His promises.
“Let nothing ever lead us to doubt the certainty of His Word, though we may be utterly at a loss to understand the manner in which He may see fit to accomplish it. We shall then be able to testify, with Joshua of old: ‘Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof’ (Josh. 23:14).” -E.H.http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/