Hi guys, so I’ve been meaning to write this post. I got some renewed inspiration from reading Rick Warren’s ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ again. Also, today, I republished an oldie but goodie, ‘Where Was God?’, as part of my ‘Dear Atheist…’ podcast series. If you haven’t read it already, please do.
At the time I wrote that post, I’d been through an emotional ordeal… A close friend’s husband had been kidnapped, and I was so distraught. I joined them in praying and believing for his safe return without payment of any ransom. But after many days, that was what it took for him to come home. I was so disillusioned and angry with God that He hadn’t come through for us. When I posed my questions to God, He gave me the understanding that I shared in ‘Where Was God?’
However, reading Rick’s take on things, I’ve got another perspective… And I’d like to share five things we ought to do whenever God seems deaf, distant, or uncaring about our plight.
1. REMEMBER THAT YOU’RE HIS CHILD
God said to the Israelites, through Moses, and I believe He meant it for us as well, that He will never leave nor forsake them (Deut 31:6). And through His prophet Isaiah, He said:
“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me…” (Isaiah 49:15-16).
I know it doesn’t feel that way right now. You have cried out to Him, and it feels like your prayers are bouncing off the walls… Deadlines are closing in on you… You went where you believed He sent you, but you’ve found yourself in want, discouraged, targeted…forsaken. But let God be true and every man and every circumstance a liar (Romans 3:4).
Though it may feel like it, God hasn’t hidden Himself from you. There’s nowhere He can go to hide from you, nowhere He can be where He doesn’t see nor hear. The whole world can’t contain His presence. He is in you, and in all things. Remember that and take courage.
2. REMEMBER THAT HE IS YOUR LORD, YOUR MASTER.
If there’s ever a time to see God as your Lord and Master, this is the time. In fact, I have this feeling that it is why He allows us to go through these periods of silence. Yes, He is our Friend… He is our Lover… He is our Father… We even know Jesus as our Big Brother… But we must never forget that, before anything else, He is GOD. He is Lord.
This is important to remember, so that we can put our trust in Him, even though we do not feel Him right now. We must remember what He commanded us to do and be found doing so whenever He should visit us again, and He shall. Jesus used the analogy of a Master and servants to illustrate His relationship with His disciples, for the time He would be gone physically… He said:
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into…” (Matt 24:42-43).
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods…” (Matt 24:45-47).
As much as these verses warn against abusing our liberty while we are here on Earth, it is also a warning about losing faith… Earlier, Jesus spoke of the tribulation those who believe in Him would endure. At that time, God will probably be so silent, you might wonder if you ever heard Him speak! You might wonder if you didn’t dream up your whole relationship. When Atheists tell you that you have been brainwashed and deceived, and encourage you to walk in their ‘light’ and ‘freedom,’ the temptation to forsake your faith will be strong…
All that you are going through now is training for the real testing of your faith. Even when God is silent…don’t stop believing. He will not always be silent (Psalm 50:3).
3. TAKE TIME TO EXAMINE YOURSELF
Are you allowing sin to create a gorge between you and God? Are you loving the world, listening to the world, reveling in its pleasures, or are you surrendered and tuned in to God? Sometimes, we can’t hear God because the noise in our lives is too loud. And we are the ones running from God, turning up the volume to the music and shouting, “I can’t hear You!”
Be honest with yourself. Paul encouraged his brethren to “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified,” (2 Cor 13:5). And James taught, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded…” (James 4:8).
This is not to say that God left, but that as you seek Him more intimately, more genuinely, He will become even more real and present to you. We can always go deeper with God, and usually, we are the ones who put on the brakes. Sometimes, it is because we afraid… It may be because we are ashamed…or angry that we didn’t get our way… Or we may be enticed by something that is contrary to God. We can’t be close to the world and close to God too (James 4:4). We have to pick who will be our Lord (Matt 6:24).
4. REMEMBER THAT THE BATTLE IS ALREADY WON!
“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world…” (John 16:33b).
Jesus said these words as encouragement to His disciples, to let them know that HARD times were ahead for them. Earlier, He had prayed that God wouldn’t take them FROM the world, but KEEP them through the things they must suffer, as they remain; obedient, trusting, and serving Him.
Some of the awful things that happen in life will happen because we are Believers. We will be targeted by the devil and his angels. But many of the things that will happen are simply the realities of living in a world in rebellion to God. They are a reminder that this is not our home! That we must KEEP ON PREACHING the good news; that we still have a long way to go for God’s Kingdom to come to Earth, as it is in Heaven. We are not kept from experiencing these things, otherwise, we would not be able to relate with others going through pain and trials.
We must remember our shining example in Jesus. He was not untouched by suffering… He was baptised in it (Luke 12:50)! And He calls us to join in His fellowship of suffering… (Phil 3:10, Matt 16:24).
5. DON’T STOP CALLING ON GOD!
The devil wants you to quit! If only you would just quit believing… Stop expecting God to show up… Stop looking for God in all those places…
He wants you discouraged. Doubtful. Resentful. Angry. Anything but hopeful!
But with hope, there is faith and life and every good thing. We must hang on to hope like and BECAUSE our life truly depends on it. We should never stop hoping in God.
Though we may not understand. Though we may be upset, angry, disillusioned, exhausted… We must not give up the faith.
It is not a fantasy; it is the truth. Jesus is real. He did live and die for you. And He is coming back again. Whatever happens between then and now, is a matter of faith. The calling is high, but worth it. As Paul said:
“…if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable…” (1 Cor 15:14-19).
But we preach because it is true. Even when God is silent. It is still true. Do not be deceived… “Without faith, it is impossible to please God,” (Heb 11:6) and so “we walk by faith, not by sight…” (2 Cor 5:7).
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:35-39 NIV).
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