When God is not there...

Where is God when we really need Him?  Perhaps these are not words that have crossed your lips, but for many of us they represent a thought that has crossed our hearts and minds in moments of deep struggle.  It is a question which strikes at the very core of our being - and at the heart of the christian faith.  "He who is faithful" (1 Thess 5:24), as the Bible describes God, sometimes appears absent.

What are the indications of the presence of God?  Are we to think that His coming only brings joy, peace, etc?  Or does God come to us also as a righteous judge, or a loving but disciplining parent?  Are there times when God is at work in our lives but we don't want Him there?  It is times like that when we would prefer God to leave us alone, but He wants to complete the work of bringing the very best for our lives.  We must recognise that there is an internal conflict between what we want for our lives and what God wants.  We want to be confident, self-assured: God wants us to be dependant, finding assurance in Jesus Christ.  Here is the basis for our dilemma.

Let us contemplate the cross for a moment.  It was the place where God was revealed in a mighty way.  Where the centurion declared the identity of Jesus (Mk 15:39).  Where  the cry of Jesus had just pierced the silent skies: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"  Was God there or not?  Nouwen comments, "When Jesus spoke those words, total aloneness and full acceptance touched each other.  In that moment of complete emptiness, all was filled.  In that hour of total darkness, new light was seen.  While death was witnessed, life was affirmed.  Where God's absence was most loudly expressed, God's presence was most profoundly revealed." (from Reaching Out)

Where is God in the midst of our struggles?  He is there, but sometimes not in the way we might expect.  It is times like this that we most acutely feel His absence.  Can we trust Him enough to believe that He is doing what is best for us?

August 1, 1993
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