Far is Near
What do we do when God seems silent for a long time, when we feel almost no joy, going repeatedly to the Scriptures but often walk away still feeling discouraged and unhelped? We pray continuously but feel like we get no response. We feel cast down, but what do we do?
At a time like this, we must remember all that Christ has done for us; how much He gave to reconcile us back to God. He died for sinners like us, He absorbed the wrath of God against sinners, He took upon our sins by paying the price of the suffering and death we deserved, He rose from the dead to give invincible hope, He purchased a New Covenant promise never to let His people fall away into destruction and He makes all of these available to us by His grace and through our faith – where we see ourselves as helpless but believe in Jesus and therefore are receiving – receiving like a little child all that God has for us in Christ and embracing Him as our supreme treasure. This is the Gospel.
We must be resting in the Gospel, embracing it even though we may be experiencing some feelings of distance from God right now. Through seasons of darkness, we ought to cast ourselves upon the truth of God that comforts us.
John 8:32 (NIV)
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Right now I am going through a season of darkness and maybe you are too. Sometimes it seems like it is hard to understand God and this leaves us flustered at times.
God says in Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
We have these encounters with God where He breaks into our lives with power and answers our prayers and we feel like He is watering the garden of our faith, making it lush and green.
And then there are those seasons when chaos careen through our lives and the world, leaving us shattered. Or an unrelenting darkness descends. Or an arid wind we don’t even understand blows across our spiritual landscape, leaving the crust of our soul cracked and parched. And we cry to God in our confused anguish and He just seems silent. He seems absent.
However, praise be to God, for we need not be governed by our feelings, but rather by His Word and the Holy Spirit. Go back to the Word of God for the truth and don’t fall into the devil’s lies that you are alone. God is with you.
Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
I might not have the exact answer to your situation, but here are some questions to consider:
Why is it sometimes true that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” but “familiarity breeds contempt”?
Why is water so much more refreshing when we’re really thirsty?
Why am I almost never satisfied with what I have, but always longing for more?
Let’s look at the story of Job, a righteous and devout man who went through a trial by God to test his faithfulness. God allowed the devil to strike Job, causing him to lose his herds and property. Job was not shaken but he fell to the ground in worship, saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21) God then allowed the devil to strike Job’s flesh and bones. Job suddenly had many horrible sores over his entire body. Job desperately tried to solve the mystery behind his suffering. He struggled on his own, looking for clues. None appeared. Job prayed expectantly that God would surely speedily intervene in his life – to heal him of his disease, explain to him what in the world was going on. But nothing happened. The horribly painful disease reduced Job’s strength. He grew weaker and weaker. He became more confused.
Even though Job had done nothing wrong and pleaded desperately for help, God still seemed to remain hidden. “I cry out to you, O God, but You do not answer,” Job wailed (Job 30:20). Job’s tragic circumstances challenged and contradicted everything he had always believed about God as a rewarder of those in faith. Job cried out, “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target?” (Job 7:20)
We should not mistake Job’s discouragement, his lashing out at God, for disbelief. God’s existence is not in question. Job knew that God was alive. “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him,” Job cried out in belief (Job 13:15). Still trusting in God as his Advocate, Job insisted, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25).
Then, God came and spoke to Job. Now, it’s My turn, God was saying. Out of the raging storm, God asked Job, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2). Who is this ignorantly questioning me so much, God is asking.
From the whirlwind, God demanded of Job, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?” (Job 40:2). God wasn’t going to answer any of Job’s “Why?” questions. God had come to cross-examine him instead. “I will question you, and you shall answer Me,” God told Job twice (Job 38:3; 40:7).
I think God’s point to Job is this: “Until you know a little more about Me who is the Creator and Master of the whole universe, Job, don’t question and doubt Me about how I run the universe.” Job finally understood the error of his hasty rebuking of the Lord and realized He was indeed the only One capable of running the universe and all things in his life.
Job 42:2 (NIV)
I know that You can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
We observe from this lesson that God may sometimes distance Himself away from us on purpose, but He still is in control of our lives. He has a reason for everything and we know that He will never do anything that does not help us or make us a better person. Hold on to Him and don’t let go, don’t ever let go. Wait for Him, surely He is there to satisfy us with His steadfast love.
Join me in prayer.
“Dear Heavenly Father, now I know that when You are far, You are near. It may not seem like You are in control or watching over me, but I know that You saved me not so You can abandon me. May Your Word and truth bring comfort to my season of darkness. Strengthen me by Your Holy Spirit that I do not lose hope or let go of You. I ask for Your forgiveness that sometimes I question Your ability to run the universe. I humbly come before Your throne and ask that You fill me and satisfy me with Your love. Do not cast me from Your presence Lord, but restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Thank You, Father. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.”