And do your eyes, tried believer, begin to fail? So did your Redeemer's before you. He, whom you have been recollecting as your Surety, when He stood in your place, burdened with the intolerable load of your sin—bearing the weighty strokes of Infinite justice upon His soul—He too was constrained to cry out, "My eyes fail, while I wait for my God." Listen, then, to your deserted Savior counseling His deserted people; "gifted with the tongue of the learned, that he should know how to speak a word in season to you that are weary" "Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant; that walks in darkness, and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God."
That our Surety will plead for our good, doubt not. Yet "the vision is for an appointed time." "But shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?" Salvation—a gift of such comprehensive and enduring blessing—is it not worth the waiting trial? Wonderful is that arrangement, by which the word of grace is made the word of righteousness! God has bound Himself to us by His promises of grace, which are not, Yes and no, but "Yes and amen"—under His own hand and seal. Who that has tried them, but will "set to his seal that God is true?" Cheering indeed is the thought, that, amid the incessant changes in Christian experience, our hope is unchangeably fixed. We may not indeed always enjoy it; but our salvation does not depend upon our present enjoyment of its consolation. Is not the blessing as certain—yes—is not our assurance of an interest in it as clear, when we are brought to the dust under a sense of sin, as if we were "caught up into the third heaven" in a vision of glory?
In a season of desertion, therefore, while we maintain a godly jealousy over our own hearts, let us beware of a mistrustful jealousy of God. Distrust will not cure our wound, or quicken us to prayer, or recommend us to the favor of God, or prepare us for the mercy of the Gospel. Complaining is not humility. Prayer without waiting is not faith. The path is plain as noon-day. Continue to believe as you can. Wait on the Lord. This is the act of faith, depending on Him—the act of hope, looking for Him—the act of patience, waiting His time—the act of submission, resigned even if He should not come. Like your Savior, in His "agony" of desertion, "pray more earnestly." Condemn yourself for the sins of which you are asking forgiveness. Bless Him for His past mercy, even if you should never taste it again. Can He frown you from His presence? Can He belie His promise to His waiting people? Impossible! No! while He has taken away the sensible apprehensions of His love, and in its room has kindled longing desires for the lost blessing; is not this to show Himself—if He be "verily a God that hides Himself"—yet still "the God of Israel, the Savior?" Though He delays His promise, and holds us as it were in suspense; yet He would have us know, that He has not forgotten the word of His righteousness. But this is His wise and effectual mode of trying His own gift of faith. And it is this "trial of faith"—and not faith untried—that will be "found to praise, and honor, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."
The full consolation of the Gospel is therefore the fruit of patient, humble waiting for the Lord, and of earnest desire, conflicting with impatience and unbelief, and at length issuing in a state of child-like submission and dependence. The man who was here expressing his longing expectation for God's salvation, was evidently, though unconsciously, in possession of the promise. Nor would he at this moment have exchanged his hope, clouded as it was to his own view, for all "the pleasures of sin," or the riches of the world. Although at this moment he appeared to be under the partial hidings of his Father's countenance, yet it is important to observe, that he was not satisfied, as an indolent professor, to "lie upon his face" in this sad condition. His "eyes failed with looking upward"—stretched up with earnest expectation to catch the first rising rays of the beaming Sun of Righteousness. He knew, what all Christians know, who walk closely with God, that his perseverance in waiting upon God, would issue in the eventual fulfillment of every desire of his heart.
But can we assuredly plead the word of His righteousness for the anticipation of the object of our desire? Have we always an express promise answering to our expectations, "putting God in remembrance" of His word? Possibly we may have been asking not "according to His will," and therefore may have "charged God foolishly," as if He had been unfaithful to His word, when no engagement had been pledged: when we had no warrant to build upon from the word of His righteousness. If, however, our petition should be found to be agreeable to His word of promise, and faith and patience hold on in submission to His will, we must not, we cannot, suppose, that one tittle that we have asked will fail. Whether the Lord deliver us or not, prayer and waiting will not be lost. It is a blessed posture for Him to find us in, such as will not fail to ensure His acceptance, even though our request should be denied. An enlivening view of the Savior is in reserve for us; and the word of righteousness will yet speak, "This is the rest, with which you may cause the weary to rest: and this is the refreshing." To every passing doubt and rising fear, oppose this word of His righteousness.
But let me bring my own heart to the test. Am I longing for the manifestation of God? Surely if I am content with what I already know, I know but very little of the unsearchable depths of the love of Christ; and I have abundant need to pray for more enlarged desires, and a more tender enjoyment of His Divine presence. If faith is not dead, yet it may have lost its conquering and quickening vigor. Let me then exercise my soul in diligent, careful, patient waiting upon God, equally removed from sloth and frowardness—and I shall yet find the truth of that consoling word of His righteousness, "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart."
"Mine eyes fail for your salvation." He wept, waited, and watched for God's saving hand, and these exercises tried the eyes of his faith until they were almost ready to give out. He looked to God alone, he looked eagerly, he looked long, he looked until his eyes ached. The mercy is, that if our eyes fail, God does not fail, nor do his eyes fail. Eyes are tender things, and so are our faith, hope and expectancy: the Lord will not try them above what they are able to bear. "And for the word of your righteousness"; a word that would silence the unrighteous words of his oppressors. His eyes as well as his ears waited for the Lord's word: he looked to see the divine word come forth as a fiat for his deliverance. He was "waiting for the verdict"—the verdict of righteousness itself. How happy are we if we have righteousness on our side! for then that which is the sinners' terror is our hope, that which the proud dread is our expectation and desire. David left his reputation entirely in the Lord's hand, and was eager to be cleared by the word of the Judge rather than by any defense of his own. He knew that he had done right, and, therefore, instead of avoiding the supreme court, he begged for the sentence which he knew would work out his deliverance. He even watched with eager eyes for the judgment and the deliverance, the word of righteousness from God which meant salvation to himself.