JULY 22

 

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all—Psa. 34: 18, 19.

 

      A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again—Prov. 24: 16.

 

If at any time we find we have taken a wrong course which is irretrievable, we may expect it to bring the disappointments, as the Lord has foretold; but He may permit it to bring, as well, some blessings in the way of contrition of heart, and humility toward the Lord, and greater zeal, watchfulness and faithfulness for the future. Thus even some of the blunders of life may become stepping-stones to higher planes of grace and truth.

 

*          *          *

 

Failures should never be permitted to discourage us. While they give evidence of weakness, against which we must be on our guard, they also bring us instruction and correction highly useful to us. In spite of them the Lord gives comfort to our hearts, assuring us of His sympathy, His forgiveness and His help in every time of need. We should rise from them as quickly as possible, and, undaunted, go forward in the Lord's name.

 

Parallel passages: Deut. 4: 29-31; Job 22: 29; Psa. 51: 17; 95: 7, 8; 147: 3; Prov. 1: 23; 28: 13, 14; Isa. 57: 15; 61: 1-3; Hos. 14: 1, 2; Jonah 2: 4-9; Mic. 7: 19; Luke 18: 10-14; John 6: 37; 15: 7, 17-24; Jas. 4: 8; 1John 1: 9.

 

Questions: Have I stumbled and failed this week? What has my heart's attitude been amid such experiences? How did the Lord manifest His corrections, sympathy and help?

 

STUMBLING STONES OR STEPPING STONES?

 

I HAVE been sorely tried, dear Lord, been sorely

tried today,

The sun hath veiled his brightness, and a cloud hangs

o'er my way;

Why is my heart so heavy, and the daylight cold

and gray?

I've tried to please Thee, I have striven to faithful be

and true,

I've sought for heavenly wisdom in the thing that I

should do;

 Yet I've been "put to grief"; and oh, can I have

grieved Thee, too?

A fellow-pilgrim on the road a wound hath given

to me,

Its sting and smart I keenly feel—its need I can­

not see.

Stumbling stone or stepping stone, O Lord, which

shall it be?

 

A sorrow came to me today—a grief so dense and

deep,

The shades of deepest darkness about my heartstrings

creep;

The tears have flowed unceasing, till no power is left

to weep.

I bow beneath my weight of woe, speechless and

stunned; my heart

Sinks down like lead within my breast; its bitter ache

and smart

Seem almost more than I can bear. A sharp and

cruel dart

Hath pierced me, and I prostrate lie. O Father,

speak to me!

Thy hand lies hard upon me; can this trial come from

Thee?

Stepping stone or stumbling stone, which shall this

sorrow be?

 

*   *   *

A blessing came this day to me, a joy surpassing

sweet,

A glad way opens up to me, wherein my willing

feet

Turn joyfully; how blest I am within this dear

retreat!

My way had dark and lonely been for many a weary

year;

My Lord hath brought this gift to me when all was

sad and drear;

Now, where my path was bleak, the flowers of love

and bliss appear.

And, yet, dear Lord, this blessing which Thy love

hath given to me

May fill my heart too fully, and may wean my soul

from Thee—

Then, stepping stone or stumbling stone, my God,

 which shall it be?

 

Momentous question! on its answer my eternal joy

Hangs trembling; shall I be refined as gold without

alloy?

These woes and blessings potent are to save or to

destroy.

The time flies on! the "harvest" wanes, the glorious

end is near!

O Master, shall I lose e'en now the "prize" I hold

so dear?

Shall woes or joys of life have power to dull my lis­

tening ear?

Shall I be lured by siren song, while strains of heaven

break

On ears attuned? Oh, guide me, Lord, and keep me

still awake.

May I rejoice to walk with Thee, and suffer for Thy

sake!

 

But I am weak; O Master, dear, do thou my spirit

thrill,

Grant me thy grace, and strength impart to do Thy

perfect will,

And in affliction or in joy obey and love Thee still.

Almighty Lord, to thee I fly—no other help I know;

Oh, aid me in my need, I pray, and make my heart

to glow

With holy fire, and on me, Lord, Thy precious love

bestow.

I hear Thee speak, I will obey, I stretch my hands

to Thee,

In every providence of Thine, Thy changeless love

I see,

And stepping stones to heavenly heights each pain

And joy shall be.

 

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