Monday, July 13, 2015

“The Absence or Silence of God”

How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, And my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.  Psalms 13:1-6 NASB
“Where was God when tragedy struck?” “Why don’t I sense God with me more?” “How can I pray when I hear no answer? Am I just talking to myself?”  These are troubling questions many of us have asked. We’ve all experienced what’s been called “the dark night of the soul.”  Our desolation deals with the absence of God.  We trust God is near, and that He cares about us, but there are unsettling times when He seems quite distant.
We pray, and God is silent. We pray about our jobs, our family, our health, our decisions. Some believers admit they ask God for less in order not to be disappointed.  Phil Yancy writes: “I find it easer to believe in the impossible—to believe in the parting of the Red Sea, to believe in Easter—than to believe in what should seem more possible: the slow, steady dawning of God’s life in people like me…I need to believe in the possible.”  Just because God is sometimes silent, doesn’t mean He isn’t listening.
Think of Israel in Egypt. Joseph was long dead, and the nation was under new leadership, a Pharaoh who was hostile towards the Jews. The Bible calls him “the Pharaoh who knew not Joseph.  God’s chosen people were slaves in Egypt for over 430 years.  Where was God during this time? Did He care? Did His promises to Abraham still matter for anything? Did some of these people give up on God?  God had chosen to be silent.
What we fail to realize is that God’s absence is part of the salvation story; it’s somehow part of His providential plan.  Yet silence doesn’t feel normal in our understanding of God.  We read of David slaying Goliath, of Joshua’s trumpets around Jericho, of Elijah’s chariot of fire, and especially of Jesus…and we wonder why the so-called days of miracle and wonder are gone.
What we have now is something those people never had—the Bible.  We have God’s complete revelation.  They at best had parts of the Old Testament and fragments of the New. By the end of the first century, the entire canon of Scripture was complete, and so were the days of God’s manifest presence.  Then Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection fulfilled the Bible story to this stage of God’s plan.  We now live in the Age of Grace for men to come to God through Christ.  Jesus is returning, but until that Day, we’re waiting, and often wondering.
The life of faith is one of patience, and hope. We “see through a glass darkly.”  As we let God speak to us in His Word, His past actions provide us confidence for tomorrow. Such confidence has been called “future faith”.
Scripture to Claim:

so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:7-9 NASB

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