“Unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20

Could the Israelites at Elim fail to recall their immediately preceding wilderness experience? It was the depressing and discouraging one at Marah, where their longings and hopes were mocked with the bitter pool. But the God of the cloudy pillar made it the occasion of manifesting His wondrous power and boundless resources, showing that “with Him all things are possible.” A tree cast into the acrid waters transformed them into sweetness.

In all the difficulties, perplexities, and emergencies of the spiritual life, we may well rest with the consolatory question, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”—rejoicing in Him, who, as the true Healing Tree, changes—often reverses—the bitterest experiences. His hand is “never shortened that it cannot save.”

Wondrous and beautiful is the expression of the Great Apostle which heads this meditation—that verse with its grand repetition of words—its significant and touching repetition. See how the gradation rises. See how he mounts, as by a golden ladder, to his magnificent climax! Christ is “able to do,” Christ is “able to do abundantly,” Christ is “able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think.”—And then, as if he had not unburdened his soul of the full truth, the “goodly matter” his heart was composing, he adds another stone to the pyramid—”Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

Let us rejoice in such a complete Savior as this, sufficient for all temporal and all spiritual necessities: who can bind up the broken body; who can bind up the broken soul; ease the aching head, and quiet the aching spirit; who can reclaim the wandering and save the lost. What earthly friend can help us so? Who else, but He, can fill with His presence and love the gap in the sorrow-stricken heart? But He can; He does! Lover and friend may be put far from us; what we once most cherished and doted on may be stricken with inevitable change; the roof where childhood reveled may be a heap of ruins, or inhabited by strangers; the parents’ arms that clasped us as we lisped our infant prayer, or which smoothed our pillows in sickness, may be decaying in the dust; voices that cheered us on the pilgrimage may be hushed in appalling silence.

But here is One who is Father, Brother, Physician, Friend, Home, ALL! His power intervenes and upholds where other resources fail or reveal their inadequacy. No storm can overturn that Home of unblighted love! No envious whisper can estrange that true Friend! No King of terrors can paralyze the Everlasting arms! “The Lord lives, and blessed be my Rock, and let the God of my salvation exalted.” Oh! blessed it is for the broken and downcast in the hour of crushing disappointment, or baffled plans, or defeated hope, or blighted affection: or, more than all, in that moment of greatest agony, when returning from the grave to the silent house of bereavement—entering the lessened fold, and marking the empty place in the flock—blessed it is to feel the Abiding Friend filling the empty place and the aching heart; challenging our trust and reliance in His ability thus to do for us “exceeding abundantly.” Life’s Elim-palms may be gone, but the Divine Pillar-cloud remains! “I will never leave you; I will (lit.) never, never, never forsake you.”

He gives too, not only above what we ask, but above what we think. Whatever our thoughts may be, His thoughts of love transcend them. Able to do for us, and willing to do for us, in a measure exceeding our highest conceptions. What a treasure-house of thoughts is every human bosom! What a strange history it would be (of hope, joy, fear, sadness, and brightness), were each heart unfolded! But it is, indeed, a precious assurance to every child of God, that for every thought of his (be they anxious, disquieting, misgiving), there is a counterpart comfort. For the multitude of thoughts there is a corresponding multitude of consolations! “Many, O Lord my God, are Your thoughts which are toward us. The things You planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” No, truly, God’s comforting thoughts outweigh and outbalance all our experiences of sadness and sorrow. “For a small moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies will I gather you. In a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you!”

“Great our need, but greater far

Is our Father’s loving power;

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