‘And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.’ Romans 4:19–20
Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 5:22–6:13
If your heart has been set upon any special object in prayer, if you have an express promise for it, you must not be staggered if the object of your desire be farther off now than when you first began to pray. If even after months of supplication the thing should seem more difficult now of attainment than ever it was, wait at the mercy seat in the full persuasion that although God may take his time, and that time may not be your time, yet he must and will redeem his promise when the fulness of time has come. If you have prayed for the salvation of your child, or husband, or friend, and that person has grown worse instead of better, do not cease praying. If that dear little one has become more obstinate, and that husband more profane even, still God must be held to his word; and if you have the faith to challenge his attributes of faithfulness and power, assuredly he never did and never will let your prayers fall fruitless to the ground; and I repeat the word, that you may be sure to bear that away with you, let not the fact that the answer seems farther off than ever be any discouragement to you. Remember that to trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust him in the dark—that is faith. To rest upon God when everything witnesses with God—that is nothing; but to believe God when everything gives him the lie—that is faith. To believe that all shall go well when outward providences blow softly is any fool’s play, but to believe that it must and shall be well when storms and tempests are round about you, and you are blown farther and farther from the harbour of your desire—this is a work of grace.
For meditation: The assumption that smooth progress indicates God’s favour and that trouble is a mark of his displeasure is not a safe one. Our circumstances often prove the opposite to be true (Luke 6:20–26).
Sermon no. 733
3 February (1867)