There are times in our spiritual experience when human counsel or sympathy or religious ordinances fail to comfort or help us. Why does our gracious God permit this? Perhaps it is because we have been living too much without Him, and so He takes away everything upon which we have been in the habit of depending, so that He may drive us to Himself. It is a great blessing to live at the fountainhead. While our water bottles are full, we are content, like Hagar and Ishmael, to go into the wilderness; but when those are empty, nothing will serve us but God Himself.
We are like the prodigal; we love the pig-swill and forget our Father's house. Remember, we can fashion pigsties and husks even out of the forms of religion; they are blessed things, but if we put them in the place of God, then they are of no value. Anything becomes an idol when it keeps us away from God: Even the brazen serpent is to be despised if we worship it instead of God. The prodigal was never safer than when he was driven to his father's home, because he could be sustained nowhere else. Our Lord favors us with a famine in the land so that it may make us seek after Himself even more.
The best position for a Christian is living wholly and directly on God's grace—remaining where he stood at first—"having nothing, yet possessing everything."1 Let us never for a moment think that our standing is in our sanctification, our mortification, our graces, or our feelings. But be sure of this, that because Christ offered a full atonement, therefore we are saved; for we are complete in Him. Having nothing of our own to trust in, but resting upon the merits of Jesus, His passion and holy life provide us with the only sure ground of confidence. Beloved, when we are brought to a thirsty condition, we are sure to turn eagerly to the fountain of life.