‘And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.’ 1 John 5:14–15
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 22:1–24
I saw the other day a greyhound coursing a hare. The moment the hare ran through the hedge out of the greyhound’s sight, the race was over, for he could not follow where he could not see. The true hound hunts by scent, but the greyhound only by sight. Now there are some Christians too much like the greyhound; they only follow the Lord as far as they can see his manifest mercy; but the true child of God hunts by faith, and when he cannot see the mercy, he scents it and still pursues it, till at last he lays hold upon it. Why, man, you say you have had no answers! How know you? God may have answered you, though you have not seen the answer. This is a riddle, but it is a fact. God has not promised to give you the particular mercy in kind, but he will give it you somehow or other. If I pay my debts in gold, no man can blame me because I do not pay them in silver; and if God gives you spiritual mercies in abundance, instead of temporal ones, he has heard your prayer. You may pray, like Paul, thrice, that the thorn in the flesh may be taken away from you: God’s answer is given, and it is, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ Christ prayed that God might hear him; he was heard in that he feared, but he had not the cup taken from him. No, but he had an angel to comfort and strengthen him; and this was in truth an answer, though not such as the prayer seemed to require. You have had an answer, and if God has heard you but once, pluck up courage and go again.
For meditation: It is one thing to ask God for an answer (Job 31:35; Jeremiah 42:1–6), but quite another to recognise it. We either humbly accept God’s answer and draw near to him (Job 42:5–6) or proudly reject it and withdraw from him because it doesn’t suit us (Jeremiah 43:1–4).
Sermon no. 596
23 October (1864)