Psalm 10.11 He has said in his heart, “God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see.”
Is God really there? Does He really hear? Is He really interested in what’s going on in my life? Has God forgotten about me? Is He busy? Has He turned away?
There are common experiences we all deal with in our Godly walk; experiences that make us wonder if God is really listening or if He is really there in the first place.
- Why doesn’t God answer me?
- Why do evil people seem to get ahead while good people suffer?
- Why does it appear that I can sin sometimes without consequences?
- Why do I feel like I’m talking to no one when I pray?
- Why doesn’t God just TELL me what He wants me to do and I’ll do it?
Sometimes our behavior and lifestyle affirms that we doubt God is really present. We sin, waste time, live for pleasure, pursue the world… and because God does not intervene dramatically, we continue on as if He weren’t really there at all; or at best, as if He were disinterested.
- The absence of lightning bolts of correction and thundering voices from heaven does not make God’s Presence any less real.
- Just because you have seen no consequences yet, doesn’t mean you will get away with sin (Gal 6.7).
- Just because God hasn’t acted yet, doesn’t mean the evil person has been overlooked.
- Just because no person sees or knows your secret sin, doesn’t mean God doesn’t know.
- Just because God is silent, hasn’t answered, or seems far off, doesn’t mean He is not close.
Why is God silent sometimes? Why does He linger? Are we getting away with our sin? Well these are hardly questions I can answer in few paragraphs but let me give you a few starting points for you to pursue in your own study.
- Answer: Because He is God. To question the perfection in which God orchestrates our existence is to assume we are equal to Him. God is God. That is sufficient for the reason why anything is the way it is (Phil 2.13; Eph 1.9; Rom 9.20).
- He could change His response (or lack of it) if He wanted to, but doesn’t. So its perfect the way it is.
- He could answer your prayer if He wanted to, but doesn’t. So it is accomplishing His purpose perfectly.
- He could thunder down verbal instructions if He wanted to, but He doesn’t. So we take the revealed will of God (the Bible) and learn it more diligently. We tune our hearts ever more sensitively to the Spirit’s voice so we will hear God whether it comes in the form of an internal whisper or a spiritual axe straight between the eyes.
- He could punish the wicked now but sometimes doesn’t. His plan is being perfectly fulfilled even through the evil of this life.
Sometimes my Dad you used to say “because I said so!” and that was reason enough for me to obey… didn’t need an explanation, didn’t want an explanation, didn’t deserve an explanation. In relationship to his authority over my life, “because he said so” was reason enough.
Sometimes that should be our response:
- Because God said so
- Because God can do whatever He wants
- Because we’re not to question how God does something. (this is a general principle. The Psalms show us that sometimes there is an appropriate time to question and ask)
The very fact that God is doing something
a certain way, makes it PERFECT by default.
- When God lingers, or is silent, it makes us draws closer (Ps 73.28) to Him, listening ever more diligently to His voice; straining our hearts towards Him in anticipation of His Presence (Isa 46.12-13).
- Our faith is strengthened when we walk daily in full trust of God’s care (Isa 12.2). How is your faith built if God told you every morning by simple checklist what you will do that day and you did not seek it, listen for it, or be sensitive to it? Sometimes God simply and clearly directs us; sometimes we labor for direction.
Thomas had to put his fingers into Christ’s wounds before He would believe (John 20.26-29). How much more precious is the faith of those who have not seen yet but believe anyway?
Real faith is:
- Faith when God doesn’t answer
- Faith when God seems to be absent
- Faith when God isn’t specific
- Faith when no one is looking
- Faith when you can’t see the end
- Faith when you don’t understand the purpose
- Faith in God despite your uncertainty, lack of answers and security
- God’s power and glory maybe more fully demonstrated at times when He waits to reveal Himself. It becomes apparent to all that only God could be the source of the result when all human power and effort is exhausted.
- Lazarus is a perfect example (John 11). When he died, Jesus lingered for several days until going to Him. By that time the Lord arrived, Lazarus’s body had already begun to decay and stink. His sisters cried out that “only if Jesus would have been there” Lazarus would not have died betraying their true ignorance of who Jesus really was.
- When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, there could be no doubt of God’s power. Lazarus didn’t “swoon”; Jesus was not just some talented doctor who revived him; there could have been no tricks; only God.
- The miracle was even more demonstrative of God’s power because not only was Lazarus brought back to life, his body was restored to health and the decay of rotting flesh was completely reversed.
In reality, God is not silent or busy or hiding His face. If you are experiencing the “cold shoulder” from God, and can’t figure out why, remember that God never changes (Mal 3.6), we do.
If God seems distant and impersonal, it’s not because He has decided to ignore you; He hasn’t gone anywhere. He doesn’t go on vacation. He doesn’t ignore us. He isn’t busy somewhere cleaning His heavenly garage and forgot about you. You’re not a “to do” item in His Daytimer that He hasn’t gotten to yet (Matt 6.25-34).
There may be times He CHOOSES to be silent, or you may have distanced yourself from God by your own choices. If you’re in a spiritual valley:
- How much intimate, quiet fellowship do you have with Him every day?
- How much have you allowed worldly pleasure and pursuits fill up your time?
- How much do you hunger for God’s Word and His truth?
- How much time do you spend loving and serving others versus the time you spend doing what you want for your own benefit?
- Do you pray daily? Do you worship daily? Do you seek God daily?
Truth be known, if God seems to be somewhere else, it’s frequently because we have wandered off from Him.
If you desire to hear God and experience His presence, then you have to give up something for it (Rom 12.1). You can’t have it all. You can’t have the world and its pleasures; and the full measure of God’s presence (Matt 6.24).
God’s not busy. He hasn’t gone on vacation. He is waiting for you. When you have drawn close to God (James 4.7-10), and have cultivated a lifestyle of intimacy with Him, you will begin to understand the answer to all the questions we asked throughout this devotional; but it is knowledge and assurance that comes from sacrifice, commitment and a broken and contrite heart (Ps 51.17).
Start today. God gives you a new beginning every morning. NOW is always the time to turn your face to God and begin your journey back into His presence… no matter how far away you’ve drifted.
Lamentations 3.21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”
Our Father in Heaven, draw us closer to You today. If You seem distant, we confess it is our fault, not Yours. Grant me the conviction and discipline today to re-order my life around pleasing You. Give me wisdom and Godly understanding that my eyes may be open to the truth. Amen.
Contemplation: Does God seem distant and silent to you? Do you think He has purposely chosen to be, or have you drifted from Him? Is there a distance too far from God that puts you beyond returning to Him?
Application: Most times Gods silence is probably more of an issue of our distance from Him, not His deliberate silence. How do you know? Well it’s a process of elimination. If God seems distant, evaluate your spiritual walk to see if you have placed distance between you and God. If you can honestly say you have not, and God is still silent, then maybe the Lord has a purpose in His silence. From my experience with people, I would have to have the opinion that if God seems distant, its usually an issue of our spiritual life.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?