The Desert and the Depths

The trials of our faith are never to determine passing or failing but always strengthening, even if we feel we did not endure in the manner in which we thought we should. Faith never decreases in strength but is always increased, even if by an unnoticeably scintilla of an increment. -NC

The Desert and the Depths

“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great water; these see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep” (Ps 107:23, 24). How true this is! Yet, our cowardly hearts do so shrink form those “great waters.” We prefer to carry on our traffic in the shallows, and as a result, we fail to see “the works” and “wonders” of our Father; for these can only be seen and known “in the deep.”

It is in the day of trial and difficulty that the believer experiences something of the deep and untold blessedness of being able to count upon the Father. Were all to go on smoothly, this would not be so. It is not in gliding along the surface of a tranquil lake that the reality of His presence is known; but actually when the tempest roars, and the waves roll over the ship. The Father does not hold out to us the prospect of exemption from trial and tribulation; quite the opposite (but He does teach us through it to avoid disparity and anxiousness which exercises us in all things—NC). He tells us we shall have to meet both the one and the other; but He promises to be with us in them, and this is infinitely better.

Our Father’s presence in the trial is much better than exemption from the trial. The sympathy of His heart with us is far sweeter than the power of His hand for us. His presence with His faithful servants while passing through the furnace was far better than the display of His power to keep them out of it (Dan 3). We would frequently desire to be allowed to pass on our way without trial, but this would involve serious loss. The Lord Jesus presence is never so blessed as in moments of appalling difficulty.

There is not so much as a single position in all the desert-wanderings of the Father’s redeemed, where the boundaries are not marked off with studious accuracy by the hand of unerring wisdom and infinite love. The special bearings and peculiar influences of each position are carefully arranged. The Pihahiroths and the Migdols (Num 33:7) are all ordered with immediate reference to the moral condition of those whom the Father is conducting through the windings and labyrinths of the wilderness, and also to the display of His own character.

Unbelief may oftentimes suggest the inquiry, “Why is it thus?” The Father knows why; and He will, without doubt, reveal the why whenever the revelation would promote His glory and His people’s good. How often do we perplex ourselves as to the reason of our being exposed to such and such trials! How much better to bow our heads in meek subjection, and say, “It is well.” When our Father fixes our position for us, we may rest assured it is a wise and salutary one; and even when we foolishly and willfully choose a position for ourselves He most graciously overrules our folly and causes the influences of our self-chosen circumstances to work for our spiritual good.

It is when believers are brought into the greatest straits and difficulties that they are favored with the finest displays of the Father’s character and actions; and for this reason He oftentimes leads them into a trying position, in order that He may the more markedly show Himself. We too frequently lose sight of this great truth and the consequence is that our hearts give way in the time of trial. If we could only look upon a difficult crisis as an occasion of bringing out, on our behalf, the sufficiency of divine grace, it would enable us to preserve the balance of our souls, and to glorify our Father, even in the deepest waters!

- C H Mackintosh

Excerpt from MJS devotional for Sept. 26:

"Certainly the Holy Spirit directs in the countless details of daily life. Those who have faith, and are dependent upon His direction, will not be disappointed. But the Spirit leads according to Scriptural directions; hence that which is called the leading of the Spirit, and which has not the truth of the Word for its line of thought and action, is necessarily false." -H.F.W.