“You hide Your face, and they are terrified. You take away their breath, and they die and return to dust.” - Psalm 104:27-29
All of us, sooner or later, will experience a time when we feel that God has abandoned us - times when our prayers are not unanswered; times when we can find no comfort in our grief and suffering. In such times we need to lament of recall the heart-breaking lament of Jesus on the cross - “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me” - the cry of despair in Psalm 22:1.
How we feel and react when God seems absent depends on how we see ourselves and our relationship with God -am I a slave of sin or a child of God? Do we see ourselves in the hands of an angry God or a loving Heavenly Father? The good news is that Jesus came to set us free from our slavery to sin and to redeem us to be the children of God. Jesus did not promise us a life free from struggles but to show us that we can overcome our struggles because God’s power is greatest when we are weak.
In times when we are experiencing the absence of God’s love and grace, we need to first ask ourselves if we are the ones hiding from God just as Adam did when he and Eve disobeyed God. We read in Genesis 3:8-9:
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
Are we fearful of God and hiding from Him? If so, we need the spirit of repentance so that we can pray with the psalmist:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” - Psalm 139:23-24
We can confess that we have wandered away from God and acknowledge that we are the lost sheep waiting for our Shepherd of Love to find us. For Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10)
God may seem to be absent because we need to grow in our understanding of God’s amazing grace and love. These are the times when God needs to move us out of our comfort zones so that we can become His partners rather than His servants. In John 15:14-15, Jesus told his disciples:
“You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (ESV)
Perhaps we can learn to see such times as a time of God playing hide and seek with us - a time when God wants us to seek Him because He is drawing us into a closer and deeper intimacy with Him as our Heavenly Father. In life, we will face the mountains of pain, sorrow and suffering. We have the choice of facing such mountains with helplessness and despair or to look beyond the mountains to seek God who can remove the mountains. We can stand on the promise of God recorded in Jeremiah 29:11-14:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.
When God seems absent, it is time to change our thoughts and beliefs - a time to renew our minds so that our hearts will be in tune with God’s heartbeat. In times when we face the storms of life, we will find peace when we seek the Presence of God and remember His Promises of Providence, Power and Protection as we pray the Lord’s Prayer:
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our trespasses so that we can forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us out of temptation and deliver us from evil.