Failure – Faithfulness
The year ends! The year begins! Here at this juncture we look back in retrospection; we look forward in anticipation. Our review of the past generally results in regrets; our preview of the future, in resolutions. Our pilgrimage through the years that go and come provide the evidences of our failures, but they also provide the proofs of God’s faithfulness. This contrast between the human and the divine prompted the Apostle Paul to write, “… all men have not faith. But God is faithful” (2 Thess. 3:2-3).
The quick rocking of the chair betrayed the agitated mood of the elderly woman who sat in it. Her shoulders were bowed with the burdens of the years. Her facial contortions told of the grief and loneliness of her widowhood, and the involuntary sigh disclosed her present perplexity.
Although she had sent for me, I had some misgivings of being any help to her. She knew much of the Word of God and certain passages had been a comfort and support to her during former times of adversity. In her present dilemma she had turned to the worldly-wise. They had sympathized as with one whom the world had treated ill.
Her words seemed to spill from her lips, the one falling over the other, as she rehearsed the trials of the decades which lay behind, and as she related the most recent.
There is good therapy in listening. What else was possible under the circumstances? Eventually she did stop talking and sat still and glum, staring into space.
“O Lord, is there balm in Gilead? If there is, provide it now,” I prayed. “May I read from the Word of God?”
Her silence, I accepted as consent and read from Psalm 103. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”
“Have there been no divine benefits during this past year?” I ventured. Her face relaxed as if this were a new thought, but she offered no answer.
“Was your vacation with your friends not pleasant?” She nodded an assent. Several more questions were asked. All required and received and affirmative. We then averred that we really had to thank God for the past.
In the centre of the Psalm we read, “The mercy of the Lord is from, everlasting to everlasting.” Remarks were made to the effect that God would not change; time did not influence Him; what He had been, He would be.
Pent-up feelings burst, a stifled sob drew my eyes from the page to the tear-stained face. Again the words tumbled over each other.
“The past is gone,” impetuously she stated, and the future is not yet; it is now, right, now, that bothers me. I have never been like this before; I cannot understand.”
Once more we turned to Psalm 103 and read of God’s contemporary attitude toward His people: “As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.”
A quietness seemed to fill the room. The uneasiness subsided. A calmness settled upon us a we bowed in prayer.
To such a Father with His faithfulness, sympathy, knowledge and keen memory we all should commit ourselves. Our pilgrimage becomes shorter as the years parade past. As ever and always, “He abideth faithful” (2 Tim. 2:13).