Friday, 18 October 2013

Faith when God seems to be very far away

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Faith when God seems to be very far away
Some weeks ago, my family was praying for three children whose mother died about a month before. My wife shared with me what one of the girls said to their teachers. She said something like, “Before our mother died, I had a dream where she died. We prayed and God did not answer us, she still died. Now, I’ve had another dream where my elder sister died. Does God love us? Why does He not want to answer us?” she is about twelve years old.

Often times in the journey of life, especially when tragedy strikes, it seems as if God has failed. Hope is seriously wounded if not completely shattered. Understanding hits a hard wall because we cannot see any reason behind why God allowed the situation. Sometimes, it’s not a hard wall that our understanding hits, it just gets lost in what seems to be ad infinitum. It comes back with nothing and starts afresh and wander away again in that cycle. We wonder whether He loves us. It suddenly occurs to us that we are so small on this earth and wonders whether God notices ordinary people like us. In fact, we even ask questions that we know no human can give us answers to - difficult life questions that seek to redefine everything that we seem to have known before now. When God seems to be far away, we ask a lot of whys with exactly the same relative silence. What happens to faith in this kind of situation?

Daniel was taken captive along with other young men from Jerusalem. Apparently, he was from either the royal family or from one of the noble families in the land. The record in Dan.1: 3-4 shows that they were selected from these special and privileged classes of families from among the exiles and were intelligent and well-educated with good prospects for leadership positions. In fact, they were perfect specimens. He was a young man full of aspirations which were cut short by Nebuchadnezzar who invaded Judah and took them captive. In spite of these qualities of Daniel, what distinguishes him is that he has a relationship with God and is living a righteous life when all these things were happening. We normally just read through these passages without stopping awhile to think. We seldom put ourselves in Daniel’s shoes. Often, the very thing that distinguishes us can be the very source of our crises in life. How can you explain the fact that a young man who is serving the Lord with all his heart is carried captive, displaced because of the sins of their leaders and fathers? Daniel’s life changed forever and he never returned from this journey. Right before his eyes, the articles and utensils from the temple of God are packed into the sacred treasury in the temple of the god of Babylon and the God of heaven keeps quiet. (Dan.1:1-2). You know what that means? Where is God when His holy vessels are desecrated? What happened to Daniel’s faith? It is amazing to see in the eighth verse of that same chapter that Daniel’s faith is still intact in spite of the emotional wounds he must have suffered. He was making a commitment to God not to defile himself with the King’s meat.

What do you do when God seems to be very far away? What do you do when the enemy’s attitude is that of pride and arrogance, giving the impression that your God cannot save you, in fact, that He has failed you? If you were Daniel, can you wake up in that foreign land, in what seems like a defeated state and still make a costly commitment to this God?

There are three things we can do when God seems to be far away:

  1. Remain committed to God the best way you can. Keep doing the things that are clear to you are God’s will. It is true that you may not understand what is going on now however, you have to hold fast to the things you have known about God before now. Like Daniel, when there is the challenge to sacrifice, go ahead and do it. Leave the result to God. Many a times, what you do next may determine whether you will experience God where you are or not. Remember, life is a test.
  2. Trust the character of God. He is good and He is perfect love, hence you may not understand your current situation, but you know that whatever is happening now, God allowed it for your ultimate good. We must be able to distinguish between our emotion and our faith in the God that loves us with steadfast love. Faith forges ahead even in the midst of confused emotions and when our human understanding shows limitations. We must accept that we are human and finite but God is infinite. We do not have all the pictures but God does. Though I do not understand but God understands.  Trust His heart even when you cannot find what His hand is doing. Real faith does not struggle when understanding is limited. Faith just believes and does not question how.
  3. Finally hang your life tenaciously on the word of God that you know. At the back of Daniel’s mind, he knew what God had declared through the prophets, The Lord sent Babylonian,  Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets.  Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord's command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood and the Lord was not willing to forgive.” “Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple of the Lord and from the royal palace, and took away all the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the Lord.” “It was because of the Lord's anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.” 2 Kings 24:2-4, 13-14, 20. Their suffering and punishment have nothing to do with how powerful their enemies are. They have nothing to do with the ability of God to save. God just allowed them for a purpose, and in this case, to fulfill His words through His servants the prophets and to punish Judah because of their sins. God is still able to save even in the midst of what you are going through right now. He will come to you right at the appointed time. Daniel believed in the word of God spoken by the prophet Jeremiah and hanged his life on it, in fact that was even why they surrendered to King Nebuchadnezzar in the first place. 2 Kings 24:11. If you hang your life on God’s word, be sure that it cannot land crash.
Remember to hold fast the confession of your hope without wavering because faithful is He who has called, who will also do it. Do not throw away your confidence in the Lord, it has a great reward. God bless you.

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