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We Wait for Light (Isaiah 59:9)

I address those who sincerely want to obtain the true and heavenly light, who have waited hoping to receive it, but instead of obtaining it are in a worse, at least in a sadder, state than they were. They are almost driven into the dark foreboding that for them no light will ever come, they shall be prisoners chained forever in the valley of the shadow of death. These people are in some degree aware of their natural darkness. They are looking for light. They are not content with their obscurity, they are waiting for brightness. There are a few who are not content to be what their first birth has made them; they discover in their nature much evil and would be glad to get rid of it; they find in their understanding much ignorance, and they long to be illuminated; they do not understand Scripture when they read it, and though they hear gospel terms, they still fail to grasp gospel-thought. They pant to escape from this ignorance, they desire to know the truth which saves the soul; and their desire is not only to know it in theory, but to know it by its practical power upon their inner selves. They really and anxiously want to be delivered from the state of nature, which they feel to be a dangerous one, and to be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Oh, these are the best kind of hearers, these in whom right desires have begun to be awakened. Men who are dissatisfied with the darkness are evidently not altogether dead, for the dead shall slumber in the catacombs, heedless as to whether it is noon or night. Such men evidently have not fallen completely asleep, for they who slumber sleep better because of the darkness; they ask for no sunbeams to molest their dreams. Such people are evidently not completely blind, because it makes no difference to the blind whether the sun floods the landscape with glory, or night conceals it with her black veil. Those to whom our thoughts are directly turned are somewhat awakened, aroused, and bestirred, and this is no small blessing for, alas, most people are a stolid mass regarding spiritual things, and the preacher might almost as hopefully strive to create a soul within the ribs of death, or extort warm tears of pity from Sicilian marble, as evoke spiritual emotions from the people of this generation. So these people are hopeful in their condition who, just as the trees twist their branches toward the sunlight, they long after Jesus, the light and life of men.

Moreover, these persons have a high idea of what the light is. They call it brightness. They wait for it, and are grieved because it does not come. If you greatly value spiritual life you have not made a mistake; if you count it a priceless thing to obtain an interest in Christ, the forgiveness of your sins, and peace with God, you judge according to solemness. You shall never exaggerate in your valuation of the one thing necessary. It is true that those who trust in God are a happy people; it is true that to be brought into sonship, and adopted into the family of the great God, is a boon for which kings might well exchange their diadems. You cannot think too highly of the blessings of grace; I would rather incite in you a sacred covetousness after them than in the remotest degree lower your estimate of their preciousness. Salvation is such a blessing that heaven hangs upon it; if you win grace you have the germ of heaven within you, the security, the pledge and earnest of everlasting bliss. So far, again, there is much that is hopeful in you. It is good that you loathe the darkness and prize the light.

The people I want to speak with have some hope that they may yet obtain this light; in fact, they are waiting for it, hopefully waiting, and are somewhat disappointed that after waiting for the light, instead, obscurity has come. They are evidently astonished at the failure of their hopes. They are amazed to find themselves walking in darkness, when they had fondly hoped that the candle of the Lord would shine round about them. I would encourage in you that spark of hope, for despair is one of the most terrible hindrances to the reception of the gospel. So long as awakened sinners cherish a hope of mercy, we have hope for them. We hope, O seeker, that before long you will be able to sing of pardon bought with blood, and when this scene is closed, shall enter through the gates into the pearly city amongst the blessed who forever see the face of the well-beloved. Though it may seem too good to be true, yet even you, in your calmer moments, think that one day you will rejoice that Christ is yours, and take your seat amongst his people, though the poorest of them all, in your own estimation. Then you imagine in your heart how fervently you will love your Redeemer, how rapturously you will kiss the very dust of his feet, how gratefully you will bless him who has lifted the poor from the dunghill and set him among princes. May you no longer look through the window wistfully at the banquet, but come in to sit at the table, and feed upon Christ, rejoicing with his chosen!

The people I am describing are those who have learned to plead their case with God. “We wait for light, but only see obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.” It is a declaration of inward feelings, a laying bare of the hearts agonies to the Most High. Although you have not yet found the peace you seek, it is good that you have begun to pray. Perhaps you think it is poor praying; indeed, you hardly care to call it prayer at all, but God does not judge as you do. A groan is heard in heaven; a deep-fetched sigh and a falling tear are prevalent weapons at the throne of God.

Yes, your soul cries to God, and you cannot help it. When you are about your daily work you find yourself sighing, “Oh, that my load of guilt were gone! Oh, that I could call the Lord my Father with an unfaltering tongue!” Night after night and day after day this desire rises from you like the morning mist from the valleys. You would tear off your right arm, and pluck out your right eye, if you might gain the unspeakable benefit of salvation in Jesus Christ. You are sincerely anxious for reconciliation with God, and your anxiety reveals itself in prayer and supplication. I hope these prayers will continue. I trust you will never cease your crying. May the Holy Spirit constrain you to continue to sigh and groan. Like the importunate woman (Luke 18:1–8), may you press your case until the gracious answer is granted through the merits of Jesus.

So far things are hopeful for you; but when I say hopeful, I wish I could say much more, for mere hopefulness is not enough. It is not enough to desire, it is not enough to seek, it is not enough to pray; you must actually obtain, you must actually lay hold on eternal life. You will never enjoy comfort and peace till you have passed out of the merely hopeful stage into a better and a brighter one, by making sure of your interest in the Lord Jesus by a living, appropriating faith. In the exalted Saviour all the gifts and graces which you need are stored up, in readiness to supply your wants. Oh, may you come to his fullness, and out of it receive grace for grace!

The person I wish to comfort may be described by one other touch of the pen. He is one who is quite willing to lay bare his heart before God, to confess his desires, whether right or wrong, and to expose his condition, whether unhealthy or sound. While we try to cloak anything from God, we are both wicked and foolish. It shows a rebellious spirit when we have a desire to hide away from our Maker; but when a man uncovers his wound, invites inspection of its sore, bids the surgeon cut away the leprous film which covered its corruption, and says to him, “Here, probe into its depths, see what evil there is in it; do not spare me, but make a sure cure of the wound,” then he is in a fair way to be recovered. When a man is willing to make God his confessor, and freely, and without hypocrisy, pours out his heart like water before the Lord, there is hope for him. You have told the Lord your position, you have spread your petitions before him—I trust you will continue to do so until you find relief; but I have yet a higher hope, namely, that you may soon obtain peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Advice for Seekers (pp. 11–13). Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain)

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