Your way is in the sea, and your path in the great waters, and your footsteps are not known.…
Our daily papers are full of sad histories. One day it is "an accident in a coal-pit: one hundred lives lost." Another day it is some frightful disaster on a railway, or a shipwreck, or an outbreak of disease in some place. And when we look at "the daily history of the world," we read of earthquakes, wars, pestilence, and massacres. And as we read, the question arises in our minds — why does the compassionate All-Father permit these horrors to take place? And if we, mere spectators of these afflictions from afar off, are ready to ask this question, with what agonized earnestness must it rise up in the breasts of the sufferers them. selves! And looking closer and inquiring into the lives of our fellow-men, does not the same startling problem constantly appear? How often we see the desolate widow with her crowd of helpless children! How often we notice good and useful lives taken away whilst the worthless are still permitted to live! Now, all these cases bring us to this point — do calamities and afflictions happen by chance or are they appointed by a great Ruler of the world? And as Christians we answer, that "affliction cometh not forth of the dust," but conies from the hand of God; but when we are further pressed to explain God's dealings, we can only reply, "His path is in the great waters, and His footsteps are not known." And next, we may remark that this apparent contradiction between the character of God and His dealings with individuals, leads us to feel the need and value of a revelation. God has not left us to the stammering voice of "natural religion," but He has drawn aside the veil and revealed Himself. He has sent us a letter, in which He tells us of His love, and bids us trust in Him, through the gloom and darkness, and He will bring us into the perfect light; that though His footsteps are not known, yet He leads Israel by the hand. And as we reflect on these mysterious points of God's dealings with men, we see how they bring into light and accentuate the great doctrine of the faith; the truth that there is a future existence, when the sorrows of this life shall be balanced by the joys which cannot yet be conceived. It is the last great Day of Judgment which will declare the justice and righteous. ness of God. Thus, when we hear of terrible accidents and wholesale suffering we can take comfort in two ways — firstly, that God may overrule evil for good, by arranging that the accident or the misfortune may lead to good results. Thus the terrible disasters from fire-damp led Sir Humphrey Davy to invent the pitman's lamp, which has saved so many lives. The dangers of high-pressure engines, and the fearful explosions of the American steamboats, made the safety-valve popular and universal at last. The cruel ravages of disease and infection have taught men, by the very motives of selfish dread, to take up sanitary cares for others. And looking beyond these advantages which result in this world, we secondly can see how, in the longer sphere of a better world, God can compensate those who have suffered here. This fills us with confidence and hope, though as yet we cannot trace "His footsteps," for the dark waters roll over them.
(J. W. Hardman, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.