Suggested further reading: 1 Kings 19:1-9
Christ does not wish his believing people to be taken out of
the world, but to be kept from the evil of it.
We need not doubt that our Lord's all-seeing eye detected in
the hearts of his disciples an impatient desire to get away from
this troubled world. Few in number and weak in strength,
surrounded on every side by enemies and persecutors, they might well long
to be released from the scene of conflict and to go home. Even
David had said in a certain place, `Oh, that I had wings like a dove,
then would I flee away and be at rest!' (Ps. 55:6). Seeing all this,
our Lord has wisely placed on record this part of his prayer for
the perpetual benefit of his church. He has taught us the great
lesson that he thinks it better for his people to remain in the world and
be kept from its evil than to be taken out of the world and
removed from the presence of evil altogether.
Nor is it difficult on reflection to see the wisdom of our
Lord's mind about his people, in this as in everything else. Pleasant as
it might be to flesh and blood to be snatched away from conflict
and temptation, we may easily see that it would not be profitable.
How could Christ's people do any good in the world, if taken away
from it immediately after conversion? How could they exhibit the
power of grace and make proof of faith and courage and patience, as
good soldiers of a crucified Lord? How could they be duly trained
for heaven and taught to value the blood and intercession and
patience of their Redeemer, unless they purchased their experience by
suffering? Questions like these admit of only one kind of answer.
To abide here in this vale of tears, tried, tempted, assaulted and
yet kept from falling into sin, is the surest plan to promote
the sanctification of Christians and to glorify Christ.
For meditation: The Lord does not promise to preserve us
from trouble, but through troubles.