WHEN the disciples asked Christ to explain his departure
and return, he did not explain the nature of these mysterious events, but
he stated the principle or purpose of them. No birth, he says, without
the pains of travail, but the birth of the child is well worth the pains.
Unless we agonise at some time over the birth of faith, faith is not ours,
it is not a personal possession, it is not the child of our own soul.
Christ leaves his disciples so far and so long as is required for the pains
of their travail. It is not an act of desertion on his part, but
a merciful providence. Darkness and uncertainty, loneliness and spiritual
effort are necessary to us, and, taken right, they are the growth of faith.
They are as much the gifts of God as certainty and comfort. A little
while, he says, and I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice;
your joy no man taketh from you.