For friends in troubled times:
“Every century is like every other, and to those who live in it seems worse than all times before it.
God alone knows the day and the hour when what will at length be, that which He is ever threatening; meanwhile, thus much of comfort do we gain from what has been hitherto, not to despond, not to be dismayed, not to be anxious, at the troubles which encompass us. They have ever been; they ever shall be; they are our portion.
We are slow to master the great truth that even now Christ is, as it were, walking among us, and by His hand, or eye, or voice, bidding us to follow Him. We do not understand that His call is a thing that takes place now. We think it took place in the Apostles' days, but we do not believe in it; we do not look for it in our own case.
God's presence is not discerned at the time when it is upon us, but afterwards, when we look back upon what is gone and over. The world seems to go on as usual. There is nothing of heaven in the face of society, in the news of the day.
And yet the ever-blessed Spirit of God is there, ten times more glorious, more powerful than when He trod the earth in our flesh.
God beholds you. He calls you by your name. He sees you and understands you as He made you. He knows what is in you, all your peculiar feelings and thoughts, your dispositions and likings, your strengths and your weaknesses. He views you in your day of rejoicing and in your day of sorrow. He sympathizes in your hopes and your temptations. He interests Himself in all your anxieties and remembrances, all the risings and fallings of your spirit.
He encompasses you round and bears you in His arms. He notes your very countenance, whether smiling or in tears. He looks tenderly upon you. He hears your voice, the beating of your heart, and your very breathing. You do not love yourself better than He loves you. You cannot shrink from pain more than He dislikes your bearing it; and if He puts it on you, it is as you would put it on yourself, if you would be wise, for a greater good afterwards.
There is an inward world, which none see but those who belong to it. There is an inward world into which they enter who come to Christ, though to men in general they seem as before. If they drank of Christ's cup it is not with them as in time past. They came for a blessing, and they have found a work.
To their surprise, as time goes on, they find that their lot is changed. They find that in one shape or another adversity happens to them. If they refuse to afflict themselves, God afflicts them.
Why did you taste of His heavenly feast, but that it might work in you—why did you kneel beneath His hand, but that He might leave on you the print of His wounds?
God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission— I may never know it in this life but I shall be told it in the next.
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught.
I shall do good, I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.
Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about.
He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me— still He knows what He is about.
Let us feel what we really are— sinners attempting great things. Let us simply obey God's will, whatever may come. He can turn all things to our eternal good. Easter day is preceded by the forty days of Lent, to show us that they only who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
Contemplate then yourself, not as yourself, but as you are in the Eternal God. Fall down in astonishment at the glories which are around you and in you, poured to and fro in such a wonderful way that you are dissolved into the Kingdom of God.
The more we do, the more shall we trust in Christ; and that surely is no morose doctrine, that leads us to soothe our selfish restlessness, and forget our fears, in the vision of the Incarnate Son of God.
May the Lord support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.
Then in His mercy may He give us safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at last.”
John Henry Newman