– Thomas Merton
Never Leaves or Forsakes Us
The author of Hebrews writes some very comforting things in the Book of Hebrews, and one thing in particular is that we are to “be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'” (Hebrews 13:5). This was not only a New Testament teaching but was told to Joshua, who succeeded Moses. God reassured Joshua by telling him to “be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). This phrase “be strong and courageous” is repeated dozens of times in the Old Testament because they, like we, can sometimes face insurmountable odds, but God isn’t going to break His promise to never leave us or forsake us.
He Goes Before Us
Moses repeats what God told Joshua and tells Joshua and all of Israel to “be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land” (Deuteronomy 31:7). And why should they not fear? It’s because God has promised that “it is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8). Not only will God be with us, but He will go before us, almost like He is softening our enemies before we cross over into enemy territory. And for us, enemy territory is the world.
His Peace He Leaves Us
Just prior to Jesus’ death on the cross and His returning to the Father, the disciples were anxious about Him going away. He was the only Master they had ever known, and now He was going to leave them. But Jesus knew their hearts were troubled over this, so He said to them, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). If you have Jesus’ peace, you have a permanent peace that dwells amidst the storms and trials of life. That’s a peace that will not depart.
Thomas Merton must have known from Scripture that he had no reason to fear because he knew that God was always with him and God would never leave him to face his perils alone. Perhaps he understood that God would never leave or forsake him, that God would go with him and even before him, and that God would leave His peace with him, which will never depart. The same is true for us.