Over this past weekend, I saw some of the live footage from the memorial ceremonies held in remembrance of the thousands of people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of 9/11, twenty years ago. As I watched, there was one thing that I could not help observing about the family members of the loved ones who died on that terrible day: you could still see such deep sorrow and sadness on their faces and in their expressions, even when they tried to look strong and hopeful. Not even twenty years’ time had erased the pain that these hurting people are still feeling.
After having seen so many things over the last few weeks especially that have brought (and will continue to bring) sorrow and pain to so many families and individuals, I thought it would be a comfort to take a few minutes and reflect upon the tender compassion and love that the Lord particularly pours out upon those who are suffering and hurting. Our God cares for the sPerhaps these words will be a comfort to you personally today, in a way that I may never even know. Maybe you know a friend or family member who is experiencing a dark time in their own life. If so, please take a moment to show your care and share this article with them.
“The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down” (Psalm 145:14).
The God of the Bible is the God of the weak and the unfortunate. The Bible is a book of love and sympathy. It is like a mother’s bosom to lay one’s head upon in the time of distress or pain. Its pages teem with cheer for those who are discouraged. It sets its lamps of hope to shine in darkened chambers. It reaches out its hands of help to the fainting and to those who have fallen. It is full of comfort for those who are in sorrow. It has its many special promises for the needy, the poor, and the bereft. It is a book for those who have failed, for the disappointed, the defeated, the discouraged, the crushed, and the broken lives. It is this quality in the Bible that makes it so dear a Book to the universal heart of humanity. If it were only a book for the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unfallen, those who walk straight and tall, those who have no sorrow, those who never fail, the whole, and the happy – then it would not find such a welcome as it does in this world.
A writer has said that as long as there are tears in the world, and sorrows that make them; so long will the books of the New Testament be considered authoritative – and for this simple reason, that they bring balm to the needs of human beings where those needs cannot be helped with any ordinary dealing. And what is true of the New Testament is no less true of the Old. As long as this world witnesses tears and sorrows, broken hearts and crushed hopes, human failures and human sin, lives burdened and bowed down, and spirits sad and despairing – so long will the Bible be a welcome Book, full of inspiration, light, help, and strength for earth’s weary ones.
“The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.” Wherever there is a weak, fainting, stumbling one, unable to walk alone; to him, the heart of the God of heaven goes out in tender thought and sympathy, and the Divine hand is extended to support him and keep him from falling entirely. Wherever one has fallen, and lies in defeat or failure; over him bends the Heavenly Father in gentle pity, to raise him up and to help him to begin again.
The heart of God, which beat with such tenderness thousands of years ago when this Psalm was written, is still unchanged today. The God of the Bible has a partiality of kindness for those who have lost the human guardians of their feebleness. Where there is weakness in anyone, the strength of God is especially revealed. “The Lord preserveth the simple.” The “simple” are those who are innocent and childlike, without skill or ability to care for themselves; they are unsuspecting and trustful, and they are not armed by their own wisdom and art against the evils of men. But “the Lord preserveth the simple!” He takes care of them; He keeps and guards them. Their very defenselessness is their protection.
“The nest of the blind bird is built by God,” says the ancient proverb. Have you ever seen a blind child in a home? How weak and helpless she is! She is at the mercy of any cruelty which a bad heart may inspire. She is an open prey for all dangers. She cannot take care of herself. Yet how lovingly and safely she is sheltered! The mother-love seems tenderer for the blind child than for any of the others. The father’s thought is not so gentle for any of the strong ones as for this helpless one.
Now this picture gives a hint of the special, watchful care of God for His weak children. Their very helplessness is their strongest plea to the Divine heart. The God of the Bible is the God of the weak and the unsheltered. He sends His strongest angels to guard them. The children’s angels – keepers of the little ones, the weak ones, and the simple ones – appear always before God. Woe unto him, therefore, who touches the least of these!
The God of the Bible is the God also of the broken-hearted. There is a verse in one of the Psalms which says, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart.” Then another Psalm says, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” The world pays no regard to broken hearts. Indeed, people often break hearts by their cruelty, their falseness, their injustice, and their coldness; and then they move on as heedlessly as if they had only trodden on a worm. The world treads remorselessly upon bruised reeds. They roll on, crushing and breaking, without pity, without feeling, never stopping to lift up, to heal, and to restore those who are in the way.
But there is One Who cares! “He health the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Their broken-heartedness attracts God’s attention. The complaint of human grief draws Him down from heaven. Physicians do not visit the homes of the well, but of the sick. Surgeons on the battlefield pay no attention to the unhurt and the unwounded; they bend over those who have been torn by shot or shell, or pierced by sword or saber. So it is also with God, in His movements through this world; it is not to the whole and the well, but to the wounded and stricken that He comes. Jesus said of His own mission, “He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted!” Men look for glad and happy persons when they seek friends; but God chooses the sorrowing for His sweetest revealings of love.
We look upon trouble as misfortune and failure. We say the life is being destroyed that is passing through adversity. But the truth which we are finding in our search does not represent suffering in such a way. “The Lord raiseth up all those that be bowed down.” “The Lord healeth the broken in heart and bindeth up their wounds.” He is a repairer and restorer of the hurt and ruined life. He takes the bruised reed; and by His gentle skill, He makes it whole again, until it grows in fairer beauty than ever before.
When a branch of a tree is injured, hurt, or bruised in some way, all the tree immediately begins to pour its life into the wounded part, to restore it. When a violet is crushed by a passing foot, then the air, sun, clouds, and dew all immediately begin their ministry of healing – giving their life to bind up the wound in the little flower. So it is also with the Lord. When a human heart is wounded, all the love and pity and grace of God begin to pour forth their sweet blessing of comfort to restore that which is broken. The God of the Bible is the God of the bowed down, whom He lifts up into strength.
Look at the life of Christ. He was God manifest in the flesh. What He did, therefore, was a revealing of God’s manner of dealing with mankind. To what class of people did His sympathy and help go out most richly? Did He ally Himself with the strong? Was He drawn to the successful, the prosperous, and the victorious? No, it was just the opposite. So marked was His sympathy with the people who had failed, that the prosperous classes said – with a sneer – that He was “the friend of publicans and sinners.” All the poor wrecks of humanity in Palestine seemed to be drawn to Him – the sick, the blind, the lame, the leper, the outcast – and He never turned one of them away unhelped. His whole life was given up to those who had failed. He lived amidst wreckage all His days. His heart turned to the sad, the troubled, the needy, and the lost. His own parable told it all: He left the ninety and nine safe sheep in the fold, and went after the one that was lost. He explained it by saying, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He showed Himself the Friend of those who had failed – not because they had failed; but because they were weak and in danger and needed Him, and because He would save them. As sickness draws the physician, with all his skill and power to heal; so also, human failure draws Christ, with all His love and life, and all His power to lift up and save.
This is the truth: the God of the Bible is the God of the weak, of the stumbling, of the fainting, of the fallen, of the unsuccessful, and of those who have failed.
Who is there among us to whom this precious truth brings no comfort?
Are you one of the kinds of persons described in the Scripture text this article is based on? May the Lord raise you up from the state of sorrow and sadness and falling down; and may He fill you today with His comfort and hope and love!
If you are wondering why there is death and suffering in this world, I welcome you to get answers in the free resources linked in this article published by one of my favorite Christian apologetics ministries.
Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on this article! Feel free to leave your reflections and ask your questions in the Comments section below.
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for the King’s glory,
painting by Frank Bramley, 1888
This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on our website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.