There comes, sooner or later, into the lives of of most men critical periods when the powers of the world in the form of adverse circumstances seem to combine in an onslaught which threatens to overwhelm and destroy the activities of the spiritual life. Have you not experienced this conflict? And; perhaps, you have felt that really you must "go under." —
You have found, perhaps, that your words are wrested from their plain and simple meaning. Your actions are misconstrued. Appearances have been used to discredit you. Men revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely. Under such circumstances, feeling yourself alone and unbefriended, you are tempted to give way in despair, and to say, "All these things are against me. They are too strong for me. In face of such odds, I can resist no longer. It is useless to attempt to be a Christian under conditions such as these."
Should your feelings be such as these, before you wave the white flag and surrender to the enemy, remember there is Another concerned in what you do. Think of your Great Ally. Have you not forgotten your Almighty Friend and Helper? The apostle Paul said, "IF GOD BE FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?" And another apostle wrote, "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." — 1 John 4:4.
You have, therefore, an ample source in the Lord. And that your hands may be strengthened to resist manfully, I would recommend you to read Psalm 56. We gather from it that on the occasion commemorated therein, the Psalmist found his enemies too numerous and too powerful for him.
David says, "Man would swallow me up: he fighting daily oppresseth me, Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou Most High." But he continues in the power of faith, "When I cry unto Thee, then shall my enemies turn back; this I know, for God is for me." "In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid; what can man do unto me?" "Wilt not Thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?"
These are expressions of assurance in Divine help, but I observe another feature in this Psalm. There is (1) the sense of overwhelming opposition; then (2) the recourse to God for help and deliverance; and (3) a joyous song of praise to God, who was the strength of his life. When David said, "I will trust in Thee," he immediately added, "In God I will praise His word." Afterwards, having reminded himself that God was for him, he at once proceeded to say, "In God will I praise His word: in the Lord will I praise His word." Having experienced the relief of waiting upon God in the hour of peril, he was constrained to open his mouth to show forth the praises of God his Saviour.
We feel that this is as it should be. Deliverance should be followed by thanksgiving to the Deliverer. When we have been helped in the moment of difficulty and doubt, when we have realised that the everlasting God has given power to the faint, and increased strength to them that had no might, assuredly our hearts will break out in songs of praise. Three times in Scripture we find the people of God singing of the Lord as their strength and their song. — Ex. 15:2; Ps. 118:14; Isa. 12:2. Compare also Hab. 3:18, 19.
Let us, then, emulate these examples of Holy Writ, if we seek the Lord and His strength — Ps: 105:4 — we shall prove how He can enable feeble ones to stem the storm. And then let us not forget to render to Him the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His holy name.
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Twice this exhortation to hold fast occurs in the addresses to the churches in Asia recorded by the Holy Spirit. To the church in Thyatira the injunction was given, "That which ye have already, hold fast till I come." — Rev. 2:25. And to the church in Philadelphia, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." — Rev. 3:11.
A modern poet has sung that you are taught to
". . . force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you,
Except the Will which says to them, Hold on."
In the same manner the Holy Spirit would have your spirits to be trained, so in the time of temptation and danger, you may successfully resist the furious assaults of Satan. The divine message sent to the ancient churches is given to cheer you also: "Hold fast till I come . . . Behold, I come quickly: hold fast." It is only in this world that temptations will be our experience; when the Lord comes, there will then be no need for the exhortation to hold fast, since He then will "take His kingly power and reign, as Heir and Lord of all."
"Hold fast . . . that no man take thy crown." There is therefore a reward waiting for those who are faithful. A crown of glory is laid up on high, where moth doth not corrupt nor thieves break through and steal.
Let us then hold fast at all costs. What have we to fear? If God be for us, who can be against us? Cannot each one say, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear; what shall man do unto me?" We know not what is before us, but if we are Christ's we know that no harm can befall us. W.S.H.