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Why do You stand afar off, Lord?
- Jacob Ninan
The Psalmist expresses the cry that comes up sometimes from our heart, when we are in trouble and we can't see God doing anything about it (Ps.10:1). We pray, perhaps with fasting or with many others joining us, but we see no change in the situation, and then it is but natural for us to wonder about God. We believe He loves us and hears our prayers, He knows every detail of what is happening to us, and He is almighty and wise to d whatever He wants. But why is He not helping us out at such times?
It confuses us because we know He is always with us (Mt.28:20), and will never leave or forsake us (He.13:5), but He is nowhere to be seen! We think, like the Psalmist, that He is hiding Himself when we are in trouble (Ps.10:1).
It is obvious to our mind, when we pause to think about it, that God must be there with us still, because He cannot go back on His promises and He is not one to bluff. But still we can't see any answer to our prayers.
But perhaps one problem may be that we are looking for answers in the wrong direction. He is there with us, and He is helping us, but we have been looking elsewhere. This could be because we have wrong expectations from Him.
When we are in some serious difficulty, what we would like to happen is that God changes the situation or changes other people so that our difficulty is taken away. But that is not His goal! His goal for us is that we should be transformed from our old sinful nature and be transformed into the nature of His Son (Ro.8:28,29). In order to accomplish this, He is not going to do some magic and change our nature. But He wants us to choose His nature in the different situations of life after denying our old nature which comes to us naturally (Lk.9:23). So, He is standing there with us giving us a desire to do His will and also strength to do it (Php.2:13). We will experience this grace coming to us from God if we too are looking for the same goal to be fulfilled in our life.
Then, instead of waiting for God to miraculously change the situation or people around us, we would be asking Him for wisdom and strength for us to handle the situation. We will ask for help in overcoming the desires coming up from our old nature and also for directions on what He wants us to do.
Then we will discover that He is with us! He hasn't left us, and He isn't hiding Himself!
Sometimes God will hide Himself from us and wait to see what we will choose to do by ourselves (2Chr.32:31). This doesn't mean that He moves away from us, breaking His promise to be with us always. No. He is there with us, but He is keeping Himself 'invisible' to us for testing us. He is ready to get right into the situation if we are in danger. But this is a periodic test to see how all that He has taught us so far has helped us.
Let us not walk according to our senses or feelings, but believe that God is always with us, always guiding us towards His goal of making us like Him.