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God is with his children always


As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

—Psalm 42:10


God is a God, as the prophet saith, ofttimes hiding himself, Isa. xlv. 15, that God vails himself ofttimes to his children. Not only from the eyes of wicked men, that they think godly men deserted of God, but sometimes from the very sense and feeling of God’s children themselves. They are in such desertions that they are fain to complain that God hath hid himself, and is as a stranger to them. This is the state of God’s children in this world. Though God love them dearly, ‘as the apple of his eye, and as the signet on his hand,’ Zech. ii. 8, and Jer. xxii. 24, yet notwithstanding his carriage to them is ofttimes so strange, that those that look upon their estate in this world think they are men, as it were, forlorn and destitute of God. And this estate must needs be, because of necessity there must be a conformity between us and our Saviour. It was so with our Saviour, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Matt. xxvii. 46. God was never nearer him in all his life than then, and yet he cries out, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ And as he spake, so the rest thought of him, as if he had been a man forsaken; and so here they say to this holy man, Where is thy God?

Therefore let us lay up this likewise for the strengthening of our faith in the like case, that we be not overmuch discouraged. If God hide himself, if others think our estates miserable, and ourselves think ourselves so, it is no strange matter. It was thus with David. He was so neglected of God that they thought God had clean forsaken him. Where is thy God?

Our life is now hid with Christ, as the apostle saith, Col. iii. 3. We have a blessed and glorious life, but it is hid in our Head. Even as in winter time the trees have a life, but it is hid in the root, so a Christian hath a blessed condition at all times, but his glory and happiness is hid in his Head, and there is a cloud between him and his happiness.

Therefore let us support ourselves with this in all times, was God gone from David indeed when they said, ‘Where is thy God?’ Oh no; God was as near David now as ever he was, nay, rather nearer. God was never nearer Moses than when he was sprawling upon the water in that ark they had made for him, Ex. ii. 3. He was never nearer Daniel than when he was in the lion’s den, Dan. vi. 19. God came between the lion’s teeth and Daniel. And, as I said, he was never nearer our Saviour than when he was on the cross. And he was never nearer to David than when they said, ‘Where is thy God?’ When trouble is near, God is never far off. That is an argument to make God near, Lord, be not far off, for trouble is near. And extremity and danger and trouble, it is God’s best opportunity to be with his children, however he do not help for the present ofttimes. ‘Where is thy God?

David might rather have said to them, Where are your eyes? where is your sight? for God is not only in heaven, but in me. Though David was shut from the sanctuary, yet David’s soul was a sanctuary for God; for God is not tied to a sanctuary made with hands. God hath two sanctuaries, he hath two heavens: the heaven of heavens and a broken spirit. God dwelt in David as in his temple. God was with David and in him; and he was never more with him, nor never more in him, than in his greatest afflictions. They wanted eyes, he wanted not God. Though sometimes God hide himself, not only from the world, but from his own children, yet he is there; howsoever their sorrow is such that it dims their sight (as we see in Hagar), so that they cannot see him for the present, Gen. xxi. 19. He sometimes looks in their face, as we see Mary. She could not see Christ distinctly, but thought him to be the gardener. There is a kind of concealment a while in heavenly wisdom, yet, notwithstanding, God is with his children always, and they know it by faith, though not by feeling always. As we know what Jacob said, ‘God was in this place, and I was not aware,’ Gen. xxviii. 16, when he slept upon the stone, and had that heavenly vision; so it is with God’s people in their trouble. God is with his church and children, and wicked men are not aware of it. Christ is in them, and they are not aware of it.

—Richard Sibbes, The Sword of the Wicked, Works (Banner of Truth, 2001), 1:111–113

Posted 2017·07·25 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Richard Sibbes · Works of Richard Sibbes

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