10 Oct When We Can’t Find God
In our relationship with God, there are sweet but also dry moments. Sometimes, we may feel nothing after reading the Bible or attending church, or we have no mood to pray, or the more we listen to the word of God, the more accused we feel, etc. To be honest, sometimes, we don’t seem to be able to feel the presence of God and He seems far away from us. Particularly, when we are hit with life problems such as the pandemic that has been with us for so long, or when faced with job uncertainty, or a lingering illness, or so on, we find it harder to sense God’s presence and work.
Indeed, it is not uncommon to hear Christians going through spiritual lows. In the Bible, we also hear God’s people say, “Where is God?” When Job was met with troubles, he said,
“If only I knew where to find him;
if only I could go to his dwelling!
I would state my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would find out what he would answer me,
and consider what he would say to me.
But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.” <Job 23:3-5, 8-9>
This may be our experience sometimes too, especially when we can’t seem to see the tangible expressions of God’s work or hear specific answers from Him.
Why does God seem to hide from us, such that we feel forgotten and unaided?
Does God not care when we are suffering or going through a period of spiritual numbness? If He truly cares, why does He not immediately and evidently appear to us, so that we can be revived and liberated quickly? When such questions linger in our minds, we must not forget that the cross that Christ Himself bore also came with a sense of abandonment. Thus, Jesus Himself is able to empathise with those of us who are having a hard time or going through a spiritual wilderness. Yet, the reason why our loving Lord allows us to go through hard times is so that we can learn to live by faith instead of by sight. He wants to purify our hearts. Sometimes, when we cannot see God, when we do not have everything we wish for, but we are only left with God and His promises, then God will ask us, “Is it enough to simply have God? Is it enough that God loves you? Or, must you see your desired outcomes, must you restore “good feelings” before you can brace yourselves up?” Sometimes, God’s silence is a test He gives us. In fact, God has never left us <Heb 13:5, Deut 31:6>, but when we cannot see Him, that is because we are trying to see Him by human sight instead of by spiritual faith.
So why can’t man find God?
Man cannot be bothered to look for God.
Especially people who are still not born again but are dead in their transgressions and sins <Ep 2:1-2>, they lack spiritual awareness and are spiritually blind. Thus, they are ignorant of God and uninterested in Him. Therefore, they would not be seeking for God. Even for believers, they may be too busy to look for God, or are too preoccupied with other concerns to care about God.
Even if some people seem to be looking for God, what they are actually looking for may not be God.
They could be merely looking for a good outcome, a favourable situation, a good thing, etc, that God can give, but they are not looking for God. And when they don’t see the good things, they presume God is not there.
For some others, they cannot see God because of dark clouds.
Sometimes, when a person is suddenly hit by a big blow, or overshadowed by a dreaded darkness, even if God is still present, even if the person really wants to believe and find God, but because the dark clouds are too thick, he cannot see God.
Yet, when we cannot find God:
Must not give up, but continue to seek God.
Job says, “10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
11 My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” <Job 23>
It is amazing that Job continued to follow God’s way and treasure God’s word even though he could not find God. Indeed, we must keep seeking God through His word and our prayers. Especially when we are downcast, we need to quickly use God’s unchanging truth to fill our hearts and minds. Otherwise, our negative emotions may mislead us. Many people like to ask, “What can we do when we cannot find God?” The answer is actually very simple, continue to seek God! The fruit of the Spirit includes “patience”, which enables us to wait patiently for the Lord even when we are still in the midst of problems. Like Job, let us treasure God’s word; even if we do not feel like reading or hearing God’s word or praying, let’s still push ourselves to do so. Eventually, God will prove Himself to be true and faithful.
Continue to preach to ourselves.
Meaning, continue to confirm God’s word. Usually, when someone is in a spiritual wilderness, he simply passively accepts all kinds of negative hints and be affected by them. But we can in fact preach to ourselves, affirming the promises and goodness of God, so that we do not passively take in negative thoughts, but can actively speak the gospel truth to ourselves. That is what the psalmist did in <Ps 42:5>: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Likewise, we have to keep reminding ourselves who God is, what He has done for us and what He promised us. Perhaps we cannot control our feelings, but we can choose not to trust our feelings but trust God.
Know that God will seek you even when you cannot find Him.
“‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. <Eze 34:11>. <2 Ti 2:13> also tells us, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” Thus, even if we disbelieve temporarily, or we do not seek Him faithfully, God will still bring us back to Him in His mercy and grace.
Therefore, dear friends, when you cannot find God, remember that God has never left you, but He is always with you. May you not give up seeking Him but wait patiently upon Him by holding onto His unfailing promises!