Though the believer may be enabled, in the habitual working of faith, to sustain his hope in the word, yet "hope deferred makes the heart sick." Still, Christian, as you value the promise, trust the assurance. Do not be discouraged by present appearances. The sunshine is behind the cloud. "The vision is for an appointed time; though it tarry, wait for it." "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise," but we are hasty in looking for it. The failing of our eyes is the impatience of the will, "limiting God" to our own time, ways, and means. Faith may be exercised in not seeing His reasons—not being able to harmonize His promises with His providences, or His outward dispensations with His Divine perfections. But let us leave this to Him, and be "still, and know that He is God." We shall find in the end, that perseverance in waiting has turned to double advantage; and that even when the present answer to prayer, and also sensible comfort and acceptance have been withheld; yet that important blessings have been accomplished, and the merciful purposes given in bringing the wayward will into more entire subjection to Himself. Yes—the blessing will be so much the sweeter, from being given in the Lord's best time. Waiting time—whatever weariness may attend it—is precious time, and not a moment of it will be lost. The Lord secretly upholds faith and patience, so that every step of feeble perseverance in the way brings with it unspeakable delight. Even while our eyes fail for the fulfillment of the word, peace is found in submission and joyful expectation; and instead of a time of hardness, indolence, or carelessness, the Lord's return is anticipated the more intensely, as His absence had been felt to be the most painful trial. For as well might the stars supply the place of the sun, as outward comforts, or even the external duties of religion, supply to the waiting soul the place of an absent God.
Never, however, let us forget, that the real cause of separation between God and a sinner is removed. The way of access is opened by the blood of Jesus; and in this way we must be found waiting, until He look upon us. Here will our cry, "When will You comfort me?" be abundantly answered; and though the sovereignty of God be exhibited in the time and measure of His consolations, yet the general rule will be, "According to your faith, be it unto you."
But if unbelief clouds our comfort, turn the eye more simply to the "word" as testifying of Jesus. Here alone is the ground of comfort; and the more confidently we expect, the more patiently we will look. Nor shall we ever look in vain. Sin will be rebuked. But restoration and acceptance are assured. We shall obtain—not the spurious comfort of delusion—but those wholesome comforts, founded upon the word of promise, and connected with contrition, peace, love, joy, and triumph. The gospel shows hell deserved, and heaven purchased thus combining conviction and faith. Indeed, conviction without faith, would be legal sorrow; as assurance without conviction would be gospel presumption. Paul's experience happily united both. Never was man at the same moment more exercised with conflict, and yet more established in assurance. Thus may we maintain our assurance as really in wrestling trouble as in exulting joy; honoring the Lord by an humble, patient spirit—in Bernard's resolution—'I will never come away from You without You'—in the true spirit of the wrestling patriarch, "I will not let You go, except You bless me."
But we sometimes seem to go "mourning without the sun," "shut up, and we cannot come forth"—straitened in our desires and expectations—doing little for the Lord—with little enjoyment in our own souls, and little apparent usefulness to the Church. At such seasons it is our clear duty and privilege to "wait upon the Lord, that hides His face from the house of Jacob, and to look for Him." "He waits that He may be gracious. He is a God of Judgment; and blessed are all those who wait for Him." He waits—not because He is reluctant to give, but that we may be fitted to receive.
His eyes gave out with eagerly gazing for the kind appearance of the Lord, while his heart in weariness cried out for speedy comfort. To read the word until the eyes can no longer see is but a small thing compared with watching for the fulfillment of the promise until the inner eyes of expectancy begin to grow dim with hope deferred. We may not set times to God, for this is to limit the Holy One of Israel; yet we may urge our suit with importunity, and make fervent inquiry as to why the promise tarries. David sought no comfort except that which comes from God; his question is, "When will you comfort me?" If help does not come from Heaven it will never come at all: all the good man's hopes look that way, he has not a glance to dart in any other direction. This experience of waiting and fainting is well-known by full-grown saints, and it teaches them many precious lessons which they would never learn by any other means. Among the choice results is this one—that the body rises into sympathy with the soul, both heart and flesh cry out for the living God, and even the eyes find a tongue, "saying, When will you comfort me?" It must be an intense longing which is not satisfied to express itself by the lips, but speaks with the eyes, by those eyes failing through intense watching. Eyes can speak right eloquently; they use both mutes and liquids, and can sometimes say more than tongues. David says in another place, "The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping" (Psalm vi. 8). Specially are our eyes eloquent when they begin to fail with weariness and woe. A humble eye lifted up to Heaven in silent prayer may flash such flame as shall melt the bolts which bar the entrance of vocal prayer, and so Heaven shall be taken by storm with the artillery of tears. Blessed are the eyes that are strained in looking after God. The eyes of the Lord will see to it that such eyes do not actually fail. How much better to watch for the Lord with aching eyes than to have them sparkling at the glitter of vanity!