Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain my own ways before him.
The joy of the world ends in sorrow; sorrow with Christ and in Christ, yea, and for our sins, for Christ's sake, ends in joy. We have many of us felt how the world's joy ends in sorrow. We must not, would not, choose our suffering. "Any pang but this," is too often the wounded spirit's cry; "any trouble but this." And its cry may bear witness to itself, that its merciful Physician knows well where its disease lies, how it is to be probed to the quick, how to be healthfully healed. Job refutes Satan's lie. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." He holds not back his very, self. He gives up freely all which he is — his very
I. "Though He slay me." Oh, glorious faith of older saints, and hope of the resurrection, and love stronger than death, and blessed bareness of the soul, which for God would part with all but God, knowing that in God it will find all! yea, which would give its very self, trusting Him who took itself from itself, that it should find again (as all the redeemed will find) itself a better self in God. Till we attain, by His mercy, to Himself, and death itself is past, there is often need, amid the many manifold forms of death, wherewith we are encompassed, for that holy steadfastness of the patriarch's trust. The first trials by which God would win us back to Himself are often not the severest. These outward griefs are often but the "beginning of sorrows."
Deeper and more difficult far are those sorrows wherewith God afflicts the very soul herself. A bitter thing indeed it is to have to turn to God with a cold, decayed heart; "an evil thing and bitter" to have destroyed ourselves. Merciful and very good are all the scourges of the All. Good and All-Merciful. The deeper, the more merciful; the more inward, the more cleansing. The more they enter into the very soul, the more they open it for the healing presence of God. The less self lives, the more Christ liveth in it. Manifold are these clouds whereby God hides, for the time, the brightness of His presence, and He seemeth, as it were, to threaten again to bring a destroying flood over our earthliness.
Yet one character they have in common, that the soul can hardly believe itself in a state of grace. Hard indeed is it for hope to live when faith seems dead, and love grown cold. Faint not, thou weary soul, but trust! If thou canst not hope, act as thou wouldst if thou didst hope. If thou canst see nothing before thee but hell, shut thine eyes and cast thyself blindly into the infinite abyss of God's mercy. And the everlasting arms will, though thou know it not, receive thee and upbear thee.