I have sat in Sunday School classes absorbing the stories of God sending his angels in the Lion’s den with Daniel and showing up in the fire with the friends of Daniel. My idea of faith was based on seeing God show up in trials. That is Immanuel right, God with us?
But then Sunday School faith is put on test…
Like that time, when you sit in front of the paramedics van with a driver who looks at you strangely, because yeah….your hands are in the midair, praising God or bargaining and begging at the same time for your child’s life who is being intubated and resuscitated. God of Lazarus did not show up in that van.
“Lord if you were here…”I can resonate with Martha.
Or, like the time when you wake up as a failure, you prayed, you did everything you knew, but no change…Mountains in your life stands still. Faith does not seem to be enough to move it, nor the heartaches nor prayers. The storms rock the boat, but the Lord does not show up. Then faith shows you some strange things, you muster what is left in you and ask like Peter,
“Lord if it is you…”Only to drown in the water!
Or like that betrayal, when the people who were supposed to protect and care for you, at the hour of betrayal, stripped your spirit bare and walked away because at the need of the moment their eyes were too heavy to watch and pray. They gave into indulgence and gratified their immediate need. They wanted a piece of you when you were falling apart!
“My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death…you men could not keep watch with me for one hour?” Sleepy eyes go right back to sleep, don’t they?
Psalmist cries out in Psalm 10
“Why do you stand afar off, O Lord?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”
It is not always the trials that is burdensome to the child of God, it is the fact that the Sunday School faith is not enough. It is the apparent absence of God in the trials that the saints cannot bear.
God wants us to overcome not just the troubles but the emotions of God’s absence.
Sometimes it is not the trouble that God wants us to bear. But it is the heaviness of heart, it is the sense of the absence of God’s comfort that He wants to bear. In times of death, In times of betrayal, In times of feeling like a failure, our flesh cannot bear it without God. Yet, God allows just that!
“God bares the back that the blow may be felt; for it is only felt affliction which can become blest affliction. Spurgeon, Charles
Emotions of God’s Absence Handled
When the wicked feels the absence of God he scoffs, “There is no God.” He says to himself, God has forgotten, He has hidden his face, He will never see it.” There, you have evil!
When the saint feels the absence of God, he cries, “Arise O God, lift up your hand..” You have the Psalms!
“My father have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried at the cross when feeling the absence of God, and there you have the salvation!
“Trials, shipwreck, abandoned, lashes..” You have the gospel that reached the end of the earth!
When threatened did not threaten, reviled did not revile in return, but He committed himself to God- there, you have a blue print of holiness!
Sweat dropped builds building, but blood spilled builds holy lives that become substance of faith. The builder forgets his sweat at the sight of the finished building. But the finished building makes the builder and others remember the sweat with gratitude.
Today in the midst of grief, in the midst of betrayal, in the midst of unshakable mountains and undeniable pain, would you scoff there is no God and your hand rush to evil or would you create substance of what you see, that others can see and touch too.
The God who allows betrayal and spiritual rape is also the God who erects monuments of holiness out of every blood spilled and weaves new life from every flesh torn for His glory.