A Threefold Cord of Consolation

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
"WE had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and cloth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us" (2 Cor. 1:9,109But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; (2 Corinthians 1:9‑10)).
The past, the present, and the future are here united with steadfast confidence by the apostle. It surely is a threefold cord of mercy, love, and faithfulness: " Who delivered.. doth deliver... will yet deliver!"
These are precious words for those who with anxious hearts, it may be, are looking on to the future. A joyous strain of confidence and trust, bursting forth from the heart and pen of the apostle, by the Spirit of God. May we learn it as our own! May it be the song of our hearts as we look back and think of how the Lord carried us through the sorrows, and sufferings, the trials and temptations of the past; how, indeed, " He hath delivered" us: causing us to triumph in them all, and be more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
How prone is the heart, while passing through its daily duties, and converse with things around it, to be so engaged with the circumstance, or the trial, or the sorrow; as to forget or overlook the benefits received, and deliverances it had experienced by the way. It proves, however, that the experience of yesterday won't do for to-day. The " manna" of yesterday won't feed the soul to-day. It has so far become useless. Yet the food and the strength which supplied yesterday's need, should leave this lesson behind it-an increasing confidence in the heart who gave it, and the hand who supplied. Many a time the heart can truly say " who am I, O Lord God,... that Thou hast brought me hitherto?" -Many and many an anxious fear had thrown a dark shadow across our path, has proved to be but an occasion for the display of the Lord's perfect love. A sickness which might have ended in the death of a loved one. Some commercial crash which might have carried ruin and desolation to our doors- The loved one was given back perhaps from the brink of, or perhaps we may even say, almost out of the grave. The sorrow has perhaps been permitted to some, and yet the heart would not now have lost its precious lessons; its fresh discoveries of the fullness of Christ: so that it has... learned this lesson-" out of the eater came forth meat." These, dear reader, are the waymarks of the past-the living monuments of God's loving-kindness and pitying tender care! He led us by a "way we knew not "-alternate sunshine and shade-chastisement and mercy-but now as we glance backward and view it, we find it was all " the right way!" We can now perhaps recall how He counseled, guided, and upheld us. How in perplexity, He directed-in -want, He supplied-in sorrow, supported us. How in many a trying hour His mercy upheld us, and from "seeming evil" He produced" positive good." In slippery paths His goodness upheld our footsteps-and with a strong and loving hand, lifted us out of the mire, and ordered our goings.
Can we not then echo with the apostle, He "delivered us." "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us," can we not then trust Him still I Can we not look up to Him with child-like confidence, and say " I will trust and not be afraid." For
"He who hath helped us hitherto,
Will help us all our journey through;
And give us daily cause to raise
New Ebenezers to His praise."
Here again the same thought comes in-" hath helped;" "who delivered;" "kept by the power of God through faith" from day to day, and hour to hour. Delivered from the thousand pitfalls and snares which encompass our daily path. Can we not then raise our song into a shout of praise; "In whom we trust (yea, we know!) that He will yet deliver us." His own precious words are-" Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee;" not "remove the trial," but "deliver thee." "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee;" and His "hand is not shortened that it cannot save." He "delivered,... doth deliver,... in whom we trust He will yet deliver us.".
Reader, do you know anything of this happy confidence in Christ, expressed by the apostle in these words? Are you allowing the supposed and anticipated evils of the future to come in amongst those of to-day? Do not forget His word, "the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matt. 6:3434Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34)). Leave the morrow with Him who has said, "As thy day, so shall thy strength be." How often is His voice heard by the attentive ear; whispering out the threatening cloud, "Be still and know that I am God;" and the heart is thus sustained through it all, by Him who is mindful of our every sorrow. He who orders all things, and in whose sight a sparrow does not fall unknown to the ground, is He who cares for us. He not only knows the care, but is active in His knowledge of it, and "careth for you." He will not leave you to travel through this wild wilderness alone, unsupported, uncheered. Himself will be with you. He says, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee." The trial of faith may be very deep-so deep that death seems the only issue, in resisting unto blood. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who, with the burning, fiery furnace in view, swerved not in faithfulness to the Lord; answering the king in unswerving confidence, "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us,... and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king" (Dan. 3:1717If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. (Daniel 3:17)). "But if not," they were willing to abide the consequences of their faith, and trust Him still. This is the faith to be desired in the saint of God: which can calmly say, "The God whom we serve is able to deliver us,... and he will deliver us." To say it when trials and sorrows are marshalling themselves around. But there is a step beyond; a higher summit for the pinnacle of faith to reach unto. These three saints of old reached it when they exclaimed, "but if not!" If He saw best, and was most glorified in their enduring unto death, they were satisfied! This is the standard, the plumb-line with which to fathom our hearts. It was the faithfulness unto death of Him who said, "Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless (but if not!), not My will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:4242Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22:42)). He accepted the cup of wrath from the Father's hands: would accept it from none other.
Satan might press it upon His acceptance-He receives it from no other hand but the Father's!
Thrice blessed faith which enables us to raise our eyes calmly; and see the dark cloud of sorrow; the storm of affliction hanging overhead, and threatening destruction to all around, and say, " Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us,... and He will deliver us.... But if not!" Still, "it is well." "It is the Lord, let Him do as seemeth Him good."
No fearing or doubting, with Christ by our side,
In death, as while living, "The Lord will provide!"
-O.