When God Seems Far Way
The faith so often expressed in the Psalms is, in all reality, an intimidating one. David and the other writers seems at times to move through troubling periods of life without so much as flinching. How unlike us, we remorsefully comment to ourselves. Certainly, we would like to have such faith, but questions abound, and so often we seem racked with doubts.
It is refreshing, then, to notice the honesty so often reflected in the Psalms by those who question just like us. "O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me. They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together. You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness" (88:14-18). Then, in Psalm 89:46-51, "How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man! What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah. Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David? Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked, and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations, with which your enemies mock, O Lord, with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed."
Haven't we voiced similar if not the same concerns before—at least in our heads, if not with our mouths? Where are you, God? Why are you allowing these things to happen to me? Why am I rejected by You? What have I done? Don't you love me? Don't you care?
We know even as we say these things in despair that they are not true—God is there, He doesn't make bad things happen to us (at least, not bad in the long run), He does not reject those who love and need Him, He does love and He does care. But, still, we question as we try to work life out. That is normal, and it is not necessarily a sin. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Job and David all questioned—and all were faithful servants approved of God.
Questions do not betray so much a lack of faith as a lack of understanding. We are not, likely, doubting God as much as we are stating our uncertainty as to what is going on. We must remember in times of hardship that our life on earth is only temporary, and the things that happen here, regardless of how joyful or painful, are passing. We live in the moment, and our questions and doubts are in the moment. That is why we sometimes seem to weaken; but that does not necessarily signal overall fragility, beloved. Even in such states, we can still look to God and count on Him, confessing faith in Him, even though we also confess our failure to see Him in our lives at the moment. After expressing his heart's sorrow, the psalmist of 89 said, "Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and Amen" (89:52). Even though he honestly expressed the inquiry of his heart, the writer knew God to still be there—real and nearby! While we will go through moments of despair and doubt, we must do so knowing that God is working and He is there, whether we understand it or perceive it. While we may not know how or why He works, we can know that He does. We can know He is there.