The Path of Peace: A Word for Troubled Souls

Psalm 23:2
Beside the still waters! What a place to lie in, beloved, in this world of trouble, of unrest, of aching, restless hearts! What fullness of meaning for the pilgrim's heart! How many has the Shepherd so led through this valley and shadow of death-led through this dry and thirsty land by an unseen hand, and supplied from an unseen source-whose hearts have known the meaning of Peter's words, who was bidden by the Chief Shepherd to feed the lambs and sheep, "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." Such is the sweet portion of those who, if need be, are in heaviness, through manifold temptations, for the trial of their faith.
Are you in trouble? Are your goods not increased enough? Do your friends lightly esteem you? Have you fears for tomorrow? Are you in debt, or sick, or bereaved? Is the thing come upon you which you feared? Is the Lord's hand heavy upon you so that though you might otherwise trust, yet now you must plan and scheme for yourself, hoping to trust when things are easier?
O beloved for whom Christ died, for whom God gave His Son, by those very trials, sore as they may be, and the full measure of which God knows and has meted out to you, He is, in infinite love, opening a way for you of deepening joy, and Satan only would enlist your doubts and fears to close it against you. To whom will you yield yourself, beloved of God? which path will you walk in, that of faith or sight? "While we look not at the things which are seen," says Paul. So he could say, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment."
The language of faith is always brave language because God is trusted and things seen do not occupy the mind What trouble is there that does not belong to things seen? Can you name one? What perplexity or distrust? Here is just the struggle, and what a momentous one, that is going on in each of us. Shall I look up or down, shall I give all attention to my troubles, or give heed to the Shepherd's voice? Shall I trust God who has saved me, or let Satan overwhelm me and drive me into the path of one who knows he is saved, but has, alas! lost communion, and is without "heart" or energy? There are trials in the path of faith, but, beloved, the trial is the door to lessons of joy and peace in Christ. Do not shrink back at the entrance. He, Himself, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross. "Surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off." Pro. 23:1818For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:18).
What were the things that men saw Paul passing through? They are recorded in 2 Cor. 4-"Troubled on every side," etc. Would nature have chosen them, or gone through them? Might he not have chosen an easier path? How many have done so, but what a choice! Before Paul's eye there opened up not the fear of fresh trials in the future-oh, no-but the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory in the presence of Him who had chosen him. And is it not thus we make our calling and election sure- the heart gets familiar with the prospect of glory-and the aged warrior can say, "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."
The trials are not to keep you from but to bring you beside the still waters in companionship with the Shepherd -they mark out the way to glory. If trouble has taken away your happiness in the Lord, on what was your happiness based? What is it that you want, that the heart is not quiet? Ask yourself the question; can you set before the mind what it is? Would its attainment restore the soul? Ah, no! dear troubled soul, do not think it. It is Satan who would persuade you. Be sure the place of quiet and refreshment is not so found! but by a shorter, quicker path-yes, a shorter way-a broken heart- a broken heart just where you are, in the very circumstances. For that the Shepherd is waiting. His voice is calling. You need not arise, nor go down the street, nor take counsel with a friend, nor with your own heart which will not befriend you, but bow the heart down-the proud heart-before the Word of God-that Word so full of perfect and sweet assurance for faith against any day of evil, such an answer to every doubt, such a shield against the enemy's darts. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you."
Then will the song be raised, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." The lessons of trial (it may be bitter) have taught the soul this sweet confidence, and a personal relationship is recognized between the individual and the Lord. It is not "the Lord is the shepherd," as He is for all, but I have learned with delight that He is my Shepherd. It is no dry argument or reasoning, but a sweet assurance made good in the depth of the heart. What a stay for the soul! The
Lord-the Almighty-my caretaker. It is true that it is in weakness we have to learn this trust, for trusting is acknowledged weakness, and that we shrink from. The flesh cannot do it, but the lesson learned, and the heart submissive and content to trust, oh, what a source of strength has the child of God! What comparison between human and divine power! How infinitely strong the weakest child of God, whose trust is in God! Do we realize it? Inasmuch as we do, peace, ineffable peace, dwells within, which changing circumstances cannot destroy-cannot reach. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.... In the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength." Isa. 26:3, 43Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: (Isaiah 26:3‑4).
What comparison is there between trust in horses and chariots, and in the living God? Are your circumstances such as you cannot trust in or get comfort in? Then know that the Lord is hedging you in that you may be forced to look up, since you cannot see over or through the difficulty. What if it hurts your pride and disappoints your expectations and upsets your plans; the Lord has a better thing for you. Think, then, of the love that patiently deals with us! We distrust Him, but He does not rest until He has opened the eye to see His love. How wicked often is our unbelief when we only deem ourselves tried sufferers.
It is a great thing to be persuaded of the Lord's love. What a portion for the heart! The Lord of heaven and earth loves me. This indeed fills the heart and gives quietness-every moment. "Who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Because He loved me, He gave Himself for me. The springs are in Himself. I may forget myself then-it is no question of my deserts and faithfulness -and dwell upon His love alone.
Let us not seek then to walk by sight; let us not be wearied of faith-to faith all is bright, and the feet stand firm upon the solid, everlasting basis of God's promise, and we take heed to the word, "Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." Heb. 10:3636For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:36). So long then as we are in this life, we remain so by "the will of God." Is there anything then we cannot submit to, seeing it is His will? His will, whose will Christ did when He came and died for us on the cross. Only for a little while is the trouble-"For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." Heb. 10:3737For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (Hebrews 10:37). "Now the just shall live by faith"- a path which He Himself trod to the end, and in which He leads us by the hand-a sweet companionship. Beloved, He it is who leads, not we; and He it is who restores the soul. Not one bit of care belongs to you, but let the heart be free to enjoy His love, and speak His praise.
"Our Shepherd is the Lord,
The living Lord, who died:
With all His fullness can afford,
We are supplied.
He richly feeds our souls
With blessings from above,
And leads us where the river rolls,
Of endless love.
"Our souls He doth restore,
And keeps us in His way;
He makes our cup of joy run o'er
From day to day;
Through love so full, so deep
Anointed is our head;
Mercy and goodness us shall keep,
Where'er we tread.
"When faith and hope shall cease,
And love abide alone,
Then shall we see Him face to face,
And know as known:
Still shall we lift our voice,
His praise our song shall be;
And we shall in His love rejoice,
Who set us free."