July 4, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His tender compassions fail not.”
“For I am the Lord, I do not change.”
“It is a most blessed experience to have the conscious presence of God with us through the trials and tests of life. But it is another thing when the Father apparently abandons us to fate in the storms of life; when He seems to have utterly forgotten us:
‘when sorrows fall like rain,
and troubles swarm like bees about the hive,
‘when our ships at sea come
drifting home, with broken
masts and sails,
‘when we groan and writhe
beneath our crosses,
‘when He plants our path thick with thorns,
‘when our feet are cut with sharp
rocks as we climb the hill difficulty,
‘when He loads our back heavy with burdens,
‘when He wrests from our arms
whatever we love.”
“Had we no tests, no great hedged-in experiences, we should never know the wonderful Deliverer and triumphant Guide we have. His eye is upon us. He is working out some infinite purpose.”
Mrs. Charles Cowman
Words of Comfort and Cheer
Today’s Study Text:
“When Jesus saw (Mary) sobbing and the Jews who came with her also sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit and sighed and was disturbed. And He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’”
“The Fragrance of His Presence” Part 28
“What Touches Us – Touches Him”
“O sympathetic tribute borne!
The tears of man – the tears of God!
In all this Gospel Idyll mark
Its holiest, tenderest episode!”
J. R. Macduff
How does it make me feel to know that what is hurting me and afflicting me today – is also touching my Father in heaven?
In what ways have the hurts I’ve sustained in my life made me more compassionate to the needs of those I meet?
“There is no wilderness so terrible, so beautiful, so arid, so fruitful, as the wilderness of compassion. It is the only desert that shall truly flourish like a lily.”
“For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities.”
There Mary stood, now with a crowd surrounding her. And as the disciple John portrays – they were all sobbing. For those of us who have found ourselves in a similar situation where tears are the only language we can speak, our hearts would have been shattered by the pain of that moment.
What I’m so thankful about is that the disciple John, who was most likely an eye-witness to the events of that day, didn’t spare any details. Instead, his glimpse into all that transpired helps us understand the deep sorrow Jesus felt as well. And I’m also glad that the loving John let us in on one of the tenderest moments in the entire life of Jesus. As Christian writer E. White pens: “It was a mournful scene. Lazarus had been much beloved, and his sisters wept for him with breaking hearts, while those who had been his friends mingled their tears with those of the bereaved sisters…Though Jesus was the Son of God, yet He had taken human nature upon Him, and He was moved by human sorrow. His tender, pitying heart is ever awakened to sympathy by suffering. He weeps with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice.”
It strengthens my heart when I begin to realize that Jesus really understands what is going on in my world and what is going on in your world. He isn’t some unfeeling deity or concrete statue made of stone. Just because you and I do not see Him visually standing by us in every trial we face doesn’t mean for one second that He is not touched by everything that touches you and me. As author Angela Thomas expresses in her book, A Beautiful Offering, “When you are hurting your head says that God is far away, but Jesus says, in fact, that God is closer than ever.” What a comforting message to every person who is going through the most distressing trial they could ever imagine. As J. R. Macduff so personally expresses, “Weeping believer! Thine anguished heart was included in those Bethany tears! Be assured thy grief was visibly portrayed at that moment to that omniscient Saviour, He had all thy sorrows before Him – thy anxious moments during thy friend’s tedious sickness – the trembling suspense – the nights of weary watching – the agonizing. Bethany’s graveyard became to Jesus a picture-gallery of the world’s aching hearts.” Never despair that Jesus does not know everything about your illness. Everything about the problems in your home. Everything that causes tears to coarse down your cheeks – take heart! He knows!
The great author and theologian Oswald Chambers, in his treasured volume My Utmost For His Highest notes that, “In the Bible clouds are always connected with God. Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to dispute the rule of God. It is by those very clouds that the spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith.” As I read these thought-provoking words, I looked outside to see the large “thunder-heads” as we call the clouds which often fill the sky during this summer monsoon season. Often at night when bolts of lightening brighten the darkness and loud claps of thunder roll around the canyon wall, I am taken back to the words I shared several years ago with you. They are some of my all-time favorites penned by S.D. Gordon in his inspiring book, Quiet Talks About Jesus: “Today up yonder on the throne there’s a Man, kin to us, bone of our bone, heart of our heart, toil of our toil. He – knows! If you’ll listen very quietly, you’ll hear His voice reaching clear down to you saying with a softness that thrills, ‘Steady- steady – I know it all. I’m watching and feeling and helping. Up yonder is the hill top and the glory sun and the wondrous air. Steady a bit. Stay up with Me on the glory side of your cloud, though your feet scratch the clay.’ Surely there’s more of God since Jesus went back.” In 1866, poet William C. Dix wrote words which became the hymn, “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!”
“Alleluia! not as orphans
Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us,
Faith believes, nor questions how;
Though the cloud from sight received Him,
When the forty days were o’er,
Shall our hearts forget His promise,
‘I am with you evermore.’”
The well-known Christian missionary to India, Amy Carmichael, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur, experienced much pain and suffering in her life. In spite of prolonged hours of confinement to bed, she was able to leave behind treasured books which have blessed millions, myself included. In her volume, Edges of His Ways, Amy offers this thoughtful view of those times in each of our lives when we find that sorrow is a difficult companion: “Sorrow is one of the things that is lent, not given. A thing that is lent may be taken away; a thing that is given is not taken away. Joy is given; sorrow is lent…then it will be taken away and everlasting joy will be our Father’s gift to us, and the Lord God will wipe away all tears from off all faces.”
How thankful we can be that until that day, we have One on high who feels everything that we feel. What touches us – touches Him:
“Behold, He who keeps you neither slumbers nor sleeps.”
He That Keepeth Thee
“So often in the dark hours of the night
It comforts me to know of One who stays
Close by my side, whose presence is a light
And a strength and solace through my nights and days.
And I am blest to know that as I sleep
He watches tenderly above me there,
And if I lie awake He stays to keep
Me comraded and safe within His care.
O Love that will not slumber when my need
Is great through wearing pain or bitter loss,
O Love compassionate enough to heed
My cry, and with the strength to lift the cross
That otherwise might crush me – Love divine,
I thank Thee for this constant care of Thine.”
Grace Noll Crowell
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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