When God Seems Distant

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God is always there, even if we do not feel His presence or see His activity at that moment.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? (Psalm 22:1)

When life gets hard, a common cry is, "Where is God in all this?" Even the psalmists, who clearly enjoyed wonderful intimacy with God, had times when they felt God was a million miles away and didn’t hesitate to tell Him so, as in our opening verses today.

But while it can feel lonely, even fearful, not sensing that God is around, such times can prove precious, for they do a number of things. First, they strengthen our faith, for we have to trust what we cannot "feel." Second, they remind us not to take God for granted, as though He were merely some friend who calls when needed rather than the Lord of glory. But third, they make us appreciate so much more the times of God’s presence. And it is often when we feel that he is absent, that things that have lain hidden in our souls for years (like anger, fear, resentment, or pain) come to the surface. And when that happens, God can, at last, deal with them.

But remember this: God is always there, even if we do not feel His presence or see His activity at that moment. There is nowhere His presence cannot be found; so we need not fear we have been abandoned. The solution is simply to keep waiting for Him. How long? Well, quite simply, "until he comes" (Hosea 10:12).

Our verses were not just spoken by David, however. They were repeated by Jesus on the cross, when He so experienced the weight of the sin of the world that He felt completely forsaken by His Father. But another cry followed: "It is finished!" (John 19:30), meaning, "It’s all paid for!" His death is our assurance that, as we trust in Him, we will never be cut off from God; for the only thing that can keep us from Him is our sin; and Christ has paid for that sin once and for all.

No matter how you might feel today, God is with you. The cross is your assurance of it!

I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. (Isaiah 8:17)

© Copyright 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont

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