A mother will stay with her sick child until the cure comes. She will even endure a child’s rejection of her love. That child may fall into sin, disregarding all his mother’s words of guidance and correction. He may become overwhelmed with despondency or unbelief, or become proud, stubborn and rebellious. Yet, through it all, his mother never gives up on him.
Consider this image of a mother eagle. “He kept [you] as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings” (Deuteronomy 32:10–11). Jesus refers to a similar image when He speaks of being “a hen [who] gathereth her chickens under her wings” (Matthew 23:37). In times of storm, such a mother hides her young safely and lovingly under her wings.
We are talking here about the tenderest, most trustworthy love known to human beings. If you were to go into any courthouse and peer into one courtroom after another, you would see young men on trial for every conceivable crime. And who would be watching from the courtroom seats? Mostly mothers.
Go to any prison on visiting days. Who do you see lining up to visit an incarcerated son or daughter? Mothers, heavy-hearted with grief—mothers who seem to have an unlimited capacity to love and forgive.
Many years ago, an old preacher wrote, “I don’t know if the Prodigal Son had a mother, but if he did, I assure you that while the father stood on the roof looking for his son to come home, that mother was shut in her room, praying and weeping. Later, when everyone was dancing at the son’s return, you would find that mother whispering hope and healing into her son’s ear.”
We may not understand why God allows our afflictions to continue; why those we love endure pain and trouble for so long; why so many of our prayers do not seem to receive a response; why so many of our questions go unanswered. But God is not obligated to answer all our questions. Indeed, we may not know any answers until we get to glory.
Yet there is one thing I will never question—and that is my Father’s love for me, revealed by the Holy Spirit who dwells within.
The love of the Father toward us, embodied in His Son, has been committed to the ministering work of the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit has been sent to humankind to reveal the majesty and glory of this everlasting love.
“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. . . . I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit” (Romans 5:5; 15:30). The Holy Spirit is the eternal love of Father and Son. All His works, all His ministry, are ordained to express and manifest that love.
Just as Jesus accepted His mission willingly, so did the Holy Spirit. He was given by the Father to Christ, who in turn sent the Spirit to us on a love mission. Therefore, every work the Spirit does—every comfort and consolation He brings, every revelation, every chastening, every wooing and warning—all proceed from love. It proceeds first from the Father’s love, and Christ’s love, but also the Spirit’s own love, for the Holy Spirit truly loves everyone He lives in.
This may sound elementary to some readers but, frankly, in these days of increasing turmoil, this truth must be fixed in our hearts. To hold fast through the days ahead, our faith must lay hold of the following: If we are not secure in God’s love for us, we cannot grow in steadfastness and confidence. And we will not be able to rejoice when the furious storms are upon us.
The prophet Isaiah likens the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit to the love and comfort of a mother.
“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:13).
In the natural, there is no greater conception of love than that of a tender, caring mother. She is always there for her children, with a nurturing, comforting word in times of distress.
With this maternal image, the Holy Spirit shows us how He fulfills His mission. He is saying to us through Isaiah, in essence:
“As followers of Jesus, you already know something about love. Now let Me show you how tender and longsuffering the love of the Father and His Son is toward you. To understand it, think of a godly, tender mother’s love. This is how I work in you, how I minister to you.”
“Christ . . . a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years” (Hebrews 3:6–9, my italics).
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (3:12–14, my italics).
I believe, with other watchmen, that the days Jesus foretold are now upon us. All over the world, people’s hearts are failing them from fear as they watch the terrifying things coming upon the earth.
Yet, in the midst of all this anxiety and fear, we who trust in the Lord hear His Word telling us, “Be steadfast and confident to the end.”
The fact is, whenever there is mounting fear, God calls for greater steadfastness. Whenever there is great terror and falling away, He calls for greater confidence. Whenever there is gloom and despair, He calls us to increase our gladness and rejoicing.
That is the nature of our heavenly Father. He has made provision for His people to hold fast and retain their joy in the severest of troubled times.
Yet there is a condition attached to this provision and it is a big if:
“We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end. . . . Christ . . . whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14, 6, my italics).
Why are we given this cautionary word? It is because there are powerful forces at work today against every believer who would hold fast to his confident faith.
“Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? . . . Jesus cut him short. ‘Be quiet! Come out of the man,’ he ordered” (Luke 4:34-35, NLT).
I want to concentrate on the phrase, “Jesus cut him short.” Jesus wants to do that in your life today. Today! Not when you finally have pleased Him with perfection (because you’re never going to do that). The good news is, there is a power of the Holy Ghost available to believers of Jesus Christ where He says, “I am going to cut this short.” Even if it’s a backslidden heart or some struggle with sin, in His mercy, kindness and grace, He does it right now!
Satan plans to get you addicted, discouraged, doubting, fearful, and anxious. His plan isn’t just to get you there but to keep you there. One of the most sorrowful experiences I have as a pastor is sitting face to face with people and hearing their confessions:
“I’ve been addicted to this or that for ten years or fifteen years.”
“Ten years ago our son ran away and he’s not serving God.”
“For the last five years our marriage has been on the rocks. We’re about to crash!” And it just goes on and on and on.
Here is some good news for all of us today. Not only does Jesus interfere, but He looks at that length of time that Satan wants to harass you and says, “Enough is enough. It’s time to cut it short.”
It’s time to cut it short! It’s time for you to say that it’s enough. Satan intends to build weapons—a scheme, a plan—and then he wants to use those weapons against you. So we need to be very careful that we don’t take a sort of a lighthearted, laissez -faire attitude. Kind of like, “Oh well, Satan doesn’t have any power. He can’t interfere in my life. He can’t interrupt what God’s doing.”
He can come against you, right? You’ve experienced that. But the good news is that the Bible says those weapons will not prosper.
“No weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you” (Isaiah 54:17, NLT).
“I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). The incredible second half to this promise—“Nor his descendants begging bread”—means that walking with Christ does not affect only you, it affects the future of those you love.
Remember that it is ultimately because of Christ’s obedience to the Father—because He yielded His life to fulfill the purposes of God—that you and I, as the descendants of Jesus Christ, can claim the promise in this psalm. And so we see how important it is that we walk in obedience and give our whole hearts to the Lord. As we do so, the promise will extend to all those who come after us—our children, our grandchildren, those over whom God has made our lives an authority. I have already seen this to be true in my own life.
As far back as I know of, I am the first believer in Christ in my family. But now I have nephews and nieces and other family members turning to God. And long after I am gone, I believe that the blessing of the Lord will still be touching my home as I make the choice to walk in the righteousness of Christ.
On Sunday nights here at Times Square Church, I hear many testimonies of people in our congregation who tried to run from God. They lived lives of sin and rebellion, turning up their music extremely loud in an attempt to drown out the voice of God. But the dilemma they faced was that they had a righteous mother or a righteous father; somebody was praying for them! And now it is obvious that they have not been forsaken; they are not begging for bread, because somebody in their house walked with God.
Let us make the choice daily to walk in God’s way, holding the truth of God in righteousness, and trusting Him for the strength that we need to fully follow Him. As we choose to do so, we will see the Scripture fulfilled—the blessing of the righteous will be upon us as well as our descendants. All that we need will be supplied, for God is absolutely faithful to fulfill His promise!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.