The waves of sorrow do not require to be very deep in order to submerge and overflow the strongest of us. We are small.
“I am overwhelmed,” were some of the last words of a famous British statesman. The waters rolled over him without his finding, apparently, any relief from their load.
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I,” David could say in Psalm 61. If his heart were overwhelmed he knew of a rock which no floods could submerge and where he could securely stand if led to it by the mighty hand of God. What relief had his burdened heart in this blessed certainty!
How many hearts are overwhelmed, distracted, sorely burdened today, as was his!
Note, first, the sense of distance which pressed upon him. “From the end of the earth,” he cried. Further he could not be. A feeling of estrangement and solitude filled his soul. He had no temple to which to retire; no fellow-worshippers; no human support; no song of conscious victory to sing. He was desolate; but he cried thence unto God! It was a cry—only a cry, but the history of such cries is intensely interesting. Israel “cried” when under the power of Pharaoh. They could but cry, but they were heard.
In Psalm 107 cries rose from people in every kind of distress; and these, too, were heard and richly answered.
It may be well for us to know “not what things we should pray for as we ought,” but this we can do—be our circumstances what they may—and in so doing find the most blessed relief—we can cry: “Abba, Father!” This cry, the first, the simplest and the sweetest, is the crown and climax of every cry. It is the most musical cry of the Christian heart.
David said: “I will cry, unto Thee.” And wherefore? “When my heart is overwhelmed.” This submergence was the reason.
A silenced heart—one that can only cry, one that has ceased to rebel, that has yielded, that has surrendered its own will and tastes and passions to the supremacy of the good will of God—is just what He wants and what ensures rest and peace for us. It is the experience of heaven here below. It supplies a “peace which passes all understanding.” It was seen fully in Jesus. An overwhelming which causes the heart to simply cry unto God, in the consciousness of utter helplessness, is the most becoming expression of the lip of man when the flood rolls over him. But the waves of sorrow rise and fall. They come and go. They are unstable.
There are altitudes, thank God, which no waters can reach, high lands where the floods of trouble cannot come.
“Lead me,” said David, “to the rock that is higher than I.”
That rock is stable, permanent, secure and full of comfort. It is higher than I!
Let my efforts fail; let my arm yield; let my mind be filled with perplexity; let my strength and my heart faint and fail, “God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”
To the rock that is higher than the flood, or the storm, or the trouble, or the perplexity, or all that overwhelms—lead, oh, “lead me to the rock that is higher than I”—Wonderful Rock! “Rock of ages,” once cleft and riven to give shelter, indeed, to the sin-burdened soul, now the same Rock of ages risen from the dead, and seated on God’s right hand, the unfailing refuge of every sorrow-tossed heart that seeks only to be led “to” Him. If “I” am small and weak and needy, that Rock is great and strong and secure and everlasting—the “Rock that is higher than I!”
Place, dear troubled soul, the ebb and flow of your sorrow beside the immutability of that Rock, your quickly passing tears alongside of its eternal comfort, and you will affirm that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
But how important is that “look”!
The winds and the waves are but temporal, while He who walked on the water, and to whom the sinking disciple cried for help, was superior to every disaster and could readily answer the cry. Everything depends on the reality of the cry.
“Oh! Saviour, I have nought to plead
On earth below or heaven above
But just my own exceeding need
And Thine exceeding love.”