It’s very interesting, the timing of this psalm, if only for the reason that our church is starting a new message series today called “God…Where are you?”
And that’s exactly the sentiment that David had in this psalm. He wrote,
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me? (1-2)
Sometimes I think we make superheroes out of some of the characters of the Bible. We look at people like David and think that he always felt close to God. That every time he went through problems, he nevertheless sensed God’s presence in his life, and was comforted.
But everyone, and I mean everyone goes through desert experiences in their lives. Times when they wonder where God is. Times when their prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling. Times when God seems to be nowhere to be found.
And we like David cry out, “God, where are you? Why are you hiding from me? Don’t you see? Don’t you care? Every day I’m wrestling with my thoughts, my fears, and my despair. How long will this go on? Help me Lord! I can’t make it without you.”
What do we do when God seems distant? In short, just hold on. Keep trusting that he loves you though you can’t see it or feel it at the moment. More than that, choose to rejoice though you don’t feel like it.
“How can I rejoice when I don’t feel like it?” I won’t say it’s easy. But I think David gives us some hints here. He sang,
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me. (5-6)
David recalled to his mind what God had done for him in the past and thanked him for his goodness. And as he did, he realized that this same God who had delivered him in the past would deliver him from his present troubles.
In the same way, when God seems distant, we need to recall what God has done for us in the past. And we should especially recall what Jesus did for us on the cross. That he loved us so much that he came down to this earth as a man and died for our sin.
If Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to do that, how can we think that he could ever stop loving us? And how can we not believe he will deliver us now?
There’s one other thing I think we should remember. When we rejoice even though we don’t feel like it, God takes more pleasure from that than when we worship out of our feelings of closeness to him. What’s more, when we choose to believe in his goodness even though we can’t see it, that’s when faith truly grows. And it’s at that point that God shows himself to us once again.
I love a song by Steven Curtis Chapman, because it captures this idea beautifully. It says,
These are the places I was so sure I’d find him
I looked in the pages and I looked down on my knees
I lifted my eyes in expectation
To see the sun still refusing to shine,
But sometimes He comes in the clouds
Sometimes His face can not be found
Sometimes the sky is dark and gray
But some things can only be known
And sometimes our faith can only grow
When we can’t see
So sometimes he comes in the rain
And we question the pain
And wonder why God can seem so far away
But time will show us, he was right there with us.