“For the Lord will not cast off forever: but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” Lam_3:31-33
Oh! what emptying, what humbling are necessary in order to make room for the lowly Lamb of God in the heart of a poor believing sinner! And for years after the first reception of Jesus, are this emptying and humbling needed. If it were not so, would our dear Lord discipline as He does? Would He cut off this and that dependence? would He take us off of creature trust, and that sometimes in the most painful way? Oh no! by these means He seeks to establish Himself in our affections-He would have our whole hearts. And when thus unhinged from earthly trust, when emptied of confidence in self, when deprived of earthly comforts-oh how unutterably precious does Jesus become! Then do we see Him to be just the Jesus we want, just the Savior that we need; we find in Him all that we ever found in the creature, and infinitely more-wisdom, strength tenderness, and sympathy, surpassing all that men or angels ever felt, or could possibly feel for us. Then it is His blood and righteousness are endeared; then we fly to His fullness of all grace; and then the tender, bleeding branch takes a firmer hold on its stem, and henceforth looks only to it for all its vigor, its nourishment, and its fruit.
“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in me.” Ah! beloved reader, if you are His child, He will cause you to know it, and will endear Himself to you as such. And this is seldom done, save in the way of severe discipline. Shrink not from it, then. All the good that the Lord ever takes from you, He returns ten thousand-fold more in giving Himself. If you can say, “the Lord is my portion,” then what more do you, can you, want? And remember, too, the Lord will deprive you of nothing that was for your real good. He is the judge of what is best for you-not yourself. We are but imperfect judges of what tends best to our spiritual or temporal benefit. That which we may deem absolutely essential to both, the Lord in His wisdom and love may see proper to remove; and as frequently, that the removal of which we had often besought the Lord, He may see fit to retain. Thrice Paul prayed for the removal of his infirmity, and thrice the Lord denied his request: but the denial was accompanied by a promise, calculated to soothe into sweet acquiescence every feeling of the apostle-“My grace,” said the Lord, “is sufficient for you.” Let it ever be remembered by the tried believer, that supporting grace, in the season of trial, is a greater mercy than the removal of the trial itself. The Lord Jesus did seem to say to His servant, “I see not that it would be for your good to grant your prayer, but I will enable you to bear the infirmity without a murmur: I will so support you, so manifest my strength in your weakness, my all-sufficiency in your nothingness, that you shall not desire its removal.” “Lord,” he might have replied, “this is all that I desire. If You in Your wisdom and love do see fit still to afflict me, I am in Your hands to do with me as seems good in Your sight. The continuance of the trial will but prove the strength of Your grace, and the tenderness and sympathy of Your heart.” After this, we hear no more of Paul’s thorn in the flesh: the grace of the Lord, doubtless, proved all-sufficient for him.