Words of Divine Comfort— Octavius Winslow, 1872
“He spoke unto them in the cloudy pillar.”–Psalm 99:7
And still the voice of the Lord is in the cloud. Not, indeed, in a visible and audible manner as of old, when the pillar of cloud, in fan-like form, expanded above them, and, as a thing of life, went before them in the wilderness. But, not less divine, not less real, not less distinct, does the Lord now speak to His saints from out of every cloud that casts a shadow upon their path.
Clouds comprise a great part of the believer’s experience. It is no strange thing that a child of the light should walk in darkness. Clouds of varied shape and hue lie in his track to heaven; and he can no more avoid them, than can the sun careering its pathway through the skies. Our Blessed Lord Himself was not exempt. They formed an essential part of that learning of obedience by the things which He suffered, though He were a Son. Behold Him on the cross! The sun clothed in sackcloth above, the earth draped in shadows beneath, were fit, though faint, emblems of the deeper, darker clouds that enshrouded His holy soul, when He uttered that dolorous cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” But every cloud that shades the path of the believer is vocal with the voice of the Lord. “He spoke unto them from the cloudy pillar.”
And still the Lord speaks to His saints from out the cloud. He speaks to us from the cloud of His glory. The Gospel of the grace of God is the revelation of the grace and glory of His great salvation. As, from the cloud of His glory on Mount Tabor, the voice of love issued, so, from the glorious cloud of His Gospel, a voice comes, saying, “Whoever will, let him come and drink of the water of life freely;” “I came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance;” “Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;” “Him that comes unto Me I will in no way cast out.”
Is it a trial of faith? This cloud is often very dark–yet Jesus speaks to us from it. He assures us that tried faith, though tried as by fire, is more precious than gold; that He anticipates every trial of faith by His intercession on behalf of His beloved disciple; and that, when the trial actually comes, though faith be purified as gold, and winnowed as wheat, it shall not fail. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat–but I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not.”
Is it the cloud of adversity? Property gone–health failing–friends changed–social position altered? The voice of the Lord speaks in the cloud–“Fear not! when you pass through the water, I will be with you.” “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” The moment faith can anchor itself on God, the believing soul is brought into perfect peace–the tempest subsides, and there is a great calm.
Is it the cloud of bereavement? Dark and overwhelming as this cloud often is, the voice of Divine love sweetly speaks from its somber bosom. “It is I, fear not. I have done it. I plucked the flower, broke the stem, bent the oak to the ground; and dark though the cloud be that rests upon your tabernacle, love sent, love shaped, love tinted it.” “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Is it the cloud of mental depression? This cloud is often very dense and protracted; and some of the holiest and most eminent saints of God have been called to pass through it. But, blessed be God, it cannot touch the soul’s union with Christ! It may hide Jesus from us, but it cannot hide us from Jesus. It may quench the light of our Christian evidence, but it cannot extinguish the light of our Christian grace. But the voice of divine love is in this cloud, and it tells you that there is a bright light in it, that the sun shines behind it, and that, before long God’s wind will pass and scatter it, and your soul shall bathe itself in eternal sunshine!
“He makes the clouds His chariot.” Then, blessed Lord, I would welcome every dispensation You do send; and though I may fear as I enter into the cloud, faith believes that I shall find you there, and hear no voice but that of redeeming love!