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When God doesn't seem near
- Jacob Ninan
We face these situations often. It isn't always that we can be at the worship service where we can 'feel' the presence of the Lord and we feel reassured that He will always be there with us, even through the waters and the fire (Is.43:2). Many a time we are in danger, or we come face to face with sickness or death, loss of job, breakdown in relationships, uncertain future, dire shortage of cash - you name it. Then when we call on God He doesn't seem to be there. It seems as if all that we have believed could have been wrong!
There are very few Christians who don't face such times. If you haven't so far, thank God, but chances are that you will face them sooner or later! Thankfully most of the time there are others around us who stand with us when we are going through these toughies. But it isn't always so. Sometimes we have to face them alone. Or the circumstances are so tough that even with all the encouragement others are able to give to us, we feel the question that pushes us back against the wall - "What if there isn't any God, after all?"
If, at this point, we try to focus on our problem situation and imagine what would happen if God doesn't intervene and also what we would like God to do, the chances are that we become more and more anxious, because, remember, at the back of our mind what we feel is that God isn't responding. It is like the much used example of Peter trying to walk on the water and beginning to sink when he looked at the waves instead of Jesus (Mt.14:28-31).
Instead, like David, we can strengthen ourselves in the Lord (1Sa.30:6). We can strengthen ourselves by, as it were, rebuilding our foundation of faith from scratch. Stone by stone we can put up the basis for our faith. Think of God who has existed always, who has created the heaven and the earth. Think of Him who has done all the wonderful things that we have read from the Bible. Think of various people we know and have read and heard about who have experienced great and miraculous things from this God. Remember how this God touched our own life in the past, forgave all our sins and cleansed us. Thank Him for making us - who were fit to be damned to hell - His own children. Think of all the ways in which He has led us in the past, answered our prayers, watched over us, guided us in supernatural ways, protected us from much harm that came our way, etc. And then think that if we are not able to see God standing with us now, it is something that is perhaps difficult to understand, but not something that negates all these things that we have been thinking about!
What we need to do is to stand firm and say, "I don't know what's going on, but I know the One who knows." That is enough for us now. As we wait on Him with trust, He will slowly unravel to us what good He has been planning for us through this tough time. When the time comes that we are able to look back on this period, we would ask why we ever doubted this God at all!