Our God (1)

There is not one of us who knows his own frailty who would care to live a single day without God. We need Him every hour, even though we often forget Him. He has not made us to be independent of Him. We are not equal to the stress and strain of life apart from the succour that His mercy supplies. The breath of passing Time withers up the choicest flowers of this life, and his onward tread shakes and changes things that appear to be most permanent, and we feel more deeply than ever that we must have God as our refuge and resource.

He must be real to us, our knowledge of Him must be personal and practical. We must know Him, not as One who is coldly distant from us, indifferent to our struggles, but as One who stoops in His mercy to consider us, frail creatures of His hand, beset with many trials and perplexities, and who is able to hear and answer our prayers, and do for us more than all we can ask or think according to the mercy and love that are in Him. Only thus shall we be able to call Him our God, and move onward peacefully and with confidence to our destined end.

In a popular weekly review a well-known writer said: "I suggest that the most ambiguous word in the English language is the word God. It stands for many differing concepts of what the word taken as a symbol, or for that matter as a fact means. No doubt in many cases in interest of clearness it would be better if another word was used." He then proceeded to give some concepts and definitions of God put forward by men famous in literary, scientific and religious circles. He is "the creative process, " "the life force, " "the universal mind, " "the final principle, " "the completed harmony, " etc., etc. But such vague terms have no meaning for us, they cannot satisfy the longings of the heart or bring peace into a human soul that has faced its deeper problems, and a subtle devil is behind them, whose intention is to put the true God at a distance from men and rob them of Him as God, supreme and beneficent, who is interested in everyone of us, and who has been revealed in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

We turn from these meaningless conceptions of God to the fountain of life, the Word of the living God, and we learn from its pages that He is the God of patience, the God of comfort, the God of hope, and the God of peace. These four great titles occur in one chapter in the New Testament. There they shine and coruscate, precious gems in His eternal crown. And that chapter is at the end of the Epistle to the Romans, the foundation Epistle. In it God is revealed in His nature and fundamental character. It is the Epistle of the gospel of God. Having unfolded its great truths the Spirit of God brings us to this conclusion, God is the God of patience, of comfort, of hope, and of peace. These great things are absolutely essential to our well-being and their source is in God; they flow down from Him to us in living streams, nay, more than that, He comes to us as the One in whom they abide, to be with us Himself, for we read, "Now the God of peace be with you, Amen." He is not distant from us, a vague and nebulous being, He is near us, He is with us, He is for us, in patience, comfort, hope and peace, and when we know this we can face the future with confidence, for "if God be for us, who can be against us?"

How blessedly these four things have blended in God's ways with us, developing and completing our faith, and leading us on to full growth in the knowledge of Him.

Patience! We are amazed as we consider how He endured our rebellious ways in those days when we did not want Him, and since His grace broke down our stubborn will that same patience has continued, year by year, until this very day, undiminished in its endurance and tenderness. To this we can bear a grateful witness, as we exclaim, only the God of patience, infinite and divine patience, could suit such as we are, and this God is our God!

Comfort! Not soothing our sorrows only, consoling us as a mother consoles a distressed and tired child, there is all that in it but more. This comfort encourages the discouraged, it imparts strength to weak and hesitant steps, it cheers the drooping spirit, it makes us more than conquerors through Him that loves us, it is such comfort as David knew when he cried triumphantly "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou are with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." And the God of comfort is our God!

Hope! We are in a groaning creation and we groan within ourselves, so chapter 8 of our Epistle tells us, and we know it well in our own experience. We are beset with infirmity; the enthusiasms of youth soon give way to the burdens of life and the weaknesses of old age, "Change and decay in all around we see." We are permitted to groan, but not to grumble or grouse, but our God is the God of hope, and He has lit the lamp of hope within our hearts. We are looking on to the day, when our bodies of humiliation shall be changed into bodies of glory like to Christ's own glorious body, according to the power by which He is able to subdue all things to Himself.

This hope is a living and sure hope, it will never fail us, we rely upon the sure word of our God, the God of hope, and lo, we are filled with all joy and peace in believing, and abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost (v. 13). Our joy is greater than our sorrow, our hope lifts us above all trying circumstances, our groanings are lost in our glad praise. We anticipate the coming glory. The God of hope is our God, and He is moving onward to the fulfilment of His purposes of love; nothing can thwart Him or postpone those purposes beyond His appointed time, but apart from us, whom He has chosen in Christ, they cannot be fulfilled; we are necessary to God's great scheme of blessing. He has bound us up in the bundle of life with Christ and His glory, and ours is an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. As our faith lays its firm grip upon the Word of God and our hope stretches out to the glorious future, joy, peace and hope are ours. How surpassing all other knowledge is this knowledge of God as the God of hope, and He is our God.

Peace! And while we wait the God of peace shall be with us all. Amen (v. 33). If we walk with Him, He walks with us. "How do you know there is a God?" was the question asked of an old saint. "I was talking with Him this morning" was the quiet and effective answer. What could disturb our peace of mind, if there was ever with us this consciousness of the company of the God of peace? The peace of God that passes all understanding would keep our hearts and minds by Christ Jesus, and we would live day by day as those who know in the experiences of life the God of patience and comfort, and hope, and peace, rejoicing in Him through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has reconciled us to Him.