“In a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says the Lord your Redeemer.” Isaiah 54:8
Many are the seasons of spiritual darkness, and sensible withdrawments of God’s presence, through which the believer is often called to pass. Seasons, during which his hope seems to have perished; and God, as he believes, has forgotten to be gracious; seasons, during which he cannot look up as a pardoned sinner, as a justified soul, as an adopted child, and say, “Abba, Father!” All is midnight gloom to his soul.
And while God seems to have withdrawn, Satan instantly appears. Taking advantage of the momentary absence of the Lord, for let it be remembered, it is not an actual and eternal withdrawment—he levels his fiery darts—suggests hard thoughts of God—tempts the soul to believe the past has been but a deception, and that the future will develop nothing but darkness and despair.
Satan, that constant and subtle foe, frequently seizes, too, upon periods of the believer’s history, when the providences of God are dark and mysterious—when the path, along which the weary pilgrim is pressing, is rough and intricate, or, it may be, when he sees not a spot before him, the way is obstructed, and he is ready to exclaim with Job, “He has fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he has set darkness in my paths.” Or with Jeremiah, “He has hedged me about that I cannot get out.” Let it not then be forgotten by the soul that walks in darkness and has no light, that the providential dealings of a covenant God and Father, which now are depressing the spirits, stirring up unbelief, and casting a shade over every prospect, may be seized upon by its great enemy, and be appropriated to an occasion of deep and sore temptation.
It was thus he dealt with our blessed Lord, who was in all points tempted as His people, yet without sin. And if the Head thus was tempted, so will be, the member—if the Lord, so the disciple. And for this very end was our blessed Lord thus tempted, that He might enter sympathetically into all the circumstances of His tried and suffering people—”For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to support those who are tempted.”
But a momentary sense of God’s withdrawment from the believer affects not his actual security in the atoning blood; this nothing can disturb. The safety of a child of God hinges not upon a frame or a feeling, the ever-varying and fitful pulses of a believing soul. Oh no! the covenant rests upon a surer basis than this; the child of the covenant is sealed with a better hope and promise.
He may change, but his covenant God never; his feelings may vary, but his Father’s love never veers: He loved him from all eternity, and that love extends to all eternity. As God never loved His child for anything He saw, or should see, in that child; so His love never changes for all the fickleness, sinfulness, and unworthiness, He daily and hourly discovers.
Oh where would the soul fly but for this truth? When it takes into account the sins, the follies, the departures, the flaws of but one week—yes, when it reviews the history of but one day, and sees enough sin in a single thought to sink it to eternal and just perdition—but for an unchangeable God, to what consolation would it resort?