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Where? (Page 2)

We are living in difficult, and for some, dark times. People are asking, ‘Where is God?’. When tragedy strikes or things go seriously wrong, people often ask that question.

Recently I was speaking to a good friend who is a hospital chaplain. He sees a lot of sorrow, but recently it got a bit closer. A school friend of his lost his wife to cancer and four months later one of his two sons died from a heart attack aged 38. He was asking, “Where is God when I need him?”.

That kind of story is being repeated many times over with the Coronavirus pandemic, and it’s nothing new. Over thousands of years, people have been asking these questions in times of uncertainty and stress. Think of Job. He lost everything: his 10 children, most of his staff, his huge portfolio of assets and finally his health. He cried out, ‘where then is my hope— who can see any hope for me?’, and, ‘If only I
knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!’ (Job 17:15; Job 23:3)

The Psalmist cried out, ‘My tears have been my food day and night, while people…[and] my foes… say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” ‘(Psalm 42:3 & 10). Another Psalmist, Ethan the Ezrahite, cried out, ‘Lord, where is your former great love which in your faithfulness you swore to David?’ (Psalm 89:49) The good news is that these people knew, and later acknowledged, that God was indeed there for them and would come to their rescue in some way.

For example, notice the progression in Psalm 54 (of David):
1. Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might.
4. Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.
7. You have delivered me from all my troubles and my eyes have looked in triumph on
my foes.
At the end of Psalm 42 the Psalmist says to himself, ‘Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God’.

As for Job, after a long time of waiting, ‘the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before’ and ‘blessed the latter part of [his] life more than the former part.’ (Job 42: 10, 12).

In Psalm 139, David affirms that there is nowhere he could be where God is not present: ‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast’. (verses’ 7-10)

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youths’ rite of Passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a man.

The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises; wild animals must surely he around; maybe even some human does him harm. Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appears and he removes the blindfold. He then discovers that his father was sitting on the stump next to him, watching the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even when we don’t know it, God is watching
over us, sitting on the stump beside us. Just because we can’t see God, doesn’t mean he is not there.

There are many occasions when God promises never to abandon his people. For example, ‘the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Deut. 31:6,8; see also Joshua 1:5). Remember the words of Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 28:20: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The writer to the Hebrews confirmed this: ‘…God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”’

The Lord does not always appear to be present, but he constantly emphasized the need for faith, often asking people, “Where is your faith?”. Remember, ‘we live by faith, and not by sight’ (2 Cor 5:7) and ‘faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see‘ (Heb. 11:1).

– Ivan.

Recommended reading: Footprints in the Sand

In the beginning