Comfort in Discouragement

Ellet J. Waggoner

The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald | April 28, 1903

GOD called Gideon to rid Israel of their foes, the Midianites and Amalekites. Gideon had received abundant proof that the Lord was with him. Yet when he came upon the brow of the hill, with only three hundred men, and looked down on the host in the valley below, “like locusts for multitude,” and knew that on the morrow he must meet them in conflict, he trembled. He knew that he and his handful of men were no match for that great army. True, God had said, “I havedelivered it [the host] into thine hand,” but he couldn’t see how, and therefore it couldn’t be. In the night season, while in this discouraged condition, the Lord appeared to him, and in substance said, “I know you are discouraged—you do not believe what I have told you. Take your servant and go a little way down toward the enemy’s camp, and there you will hear something that will give you courage.” Gideon did as commanded, and there he heard one of the men relate a dream he had had, which was interpreted by his companion to mean that into Gideon’s hand “hath God delivered Midian and all the host.” This was enough. Immediately the two returned, and at once set about executing a plan of attack, given by divine direction, and the result was that the enemy was routed, the foremost ones were slain, and the whole host was delivered into his hands. (Judges 6, 7).
How many times in the life of many Christians there come seasons of depression. Temptations press sore; reverses come; the purest motives are misconstrued; the most unselfish acts are criticized; and for the truth’s sake, even their dearest friends forsake them. They know that up to this time the Lord has led them—they are sure of it—yet how hard to believe that he still is going before them. They think, as did Jacob, “All these things are against me,” and perhaps murmur and complain.
Then right in the midst of their bitterest sorrow and deepest grief, there comes a turn in affairs. The dark clouds roll away, the apparently insurmountable obstacles vanish, and what were looked upon as mountains of difficulty prove to be not mountains at all. And all this, though unexpected, comes in such a natural way, that it never occurs to them that it is God who has brought it all about.
When will Christians learn that in times of darkness they are to look up and not down. Though cast down, they are not forsaken. God’s people are more precious in his sight than fine gold (lsa. 13:12), and he never willingly afflicts, even though he permits them to pass through the “furnace of affliction.” Even here he suffers none to be tempted above that they are able to bear.
“We know,” says the apostle, “that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Now anyone would undergo, without a murmur, the pain of the sur­geon’s knife, if he knew that it was the only means of saving his life. So when Christians, in their experience, actually know this truth, how easy it becomes to bear the severest trials; and not only to bear them, but even welcome them, for it is only through “much tribulation” that anyone can be fitted for eternal life. So hereafter can we not all say with the poet: —
“Let good or ill befall,
It must be good for me,
Secure of having Thee in all,
Of having all in Thee.”