Slow down a moment. I need you to think of a very clear memory. The memory must be of an unimportant day in which you saw nothing wonderful nor did anything extraordinary. It was a numb day and you see no reason to recall it as it holds no significance.
Are you there? Close your eyes if it helps. Try to remember what you felt. Try to remember what you were thinking about at the time.
I’ll go to such a memory as well. It was a sunny and warm day. I went for a walk and saw a large, flat stone hidden underneath the weeping willows. It was such a beautiful little place in the shade. Insects droned and I frightened the small birds in the branches of the trees. I sat down and viewed the world from a fresh angle. Everything seemed different when I was looking out from that haven.
But indeed, the world was very much the same as it had been.
It’s imperative that I had you remember a wayward memory such as this because now I’m going to cause you discomfort. Think of a time when you were low. Depression bruised the bottom of your eyes and stalked you during the day. Your muscles were fatigued after hardly doing anything. Sleep was all you wanted, but waking up was a guarantee consequence that you wished you could skip. Dreamland is sweeter and the nectar of it is filling.
Maybe a family member died or perhaps you were fired from your job. Maybe you had a fight with someone and felt the pit of remorse in your abdomen. Maybe you bore guilt from a severely miscalculated decision that had cost you a great deal of peace.
Ah, humans. We are constantly in flux and the static of unhappiness clouds our days. How tragically poetic.
Compare these two memories. See how bitter the one is and how plain the other is. I’m not going to pull a Goldilocks here and ask you to recall a happy memory. That’s not relevant. What I want you to consider is God. Why did God have these things happen to you? Why did one day lack interest while the other is painful to conjure?
Do you know what both of these days have in common? God not showing up and God not having answers for you. You still don’t understand why things played out the way they did. You don’t think fondly of God not because he was intrusive, but rather, he was absent. Could you imagine being on a ship with a crew and a storm is raging…the waves are enormous…the ship seems likely it will crack in half before it ever reaches shore…meanwhile, the captain is nowhere to be found. He’s on the ship, but you are unable to find him. You busily keep working to keep the ship intact, but where is the man who is supposed to be managing everything, leading the way?
One plain day, one awful day. Each never saw the Shepherd in the pasture. The sheep cried as the wolves crouched, the bristling fur on their backs soon to be stained red with the feast.
You are a feast for wickedness.
Where is God? Where is he in your life? Cry out and receive silence. Search for him and he evades you. Pray to him and stare at the ceiling. The Lord is gone. The Shepherd has abandoned his sheep.
This is not true, you know, that the Lord has withdrawn from your presence. As a believer you ought to know this is not true. It’s not surprising that you believe this lie as the flesh often speaks louder than the Spirit of Truth.
“For God does speak–now one way, now another– though no one perceives it.” Job 33:14
Ah, God does speak! But do we listen to him? Oftentimes no.
“…how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” Job 26:14
Ah, God’s Spirit is timid, yes? Doesn’t he know we’ve got a lot on our minds? He should scream at us or something. Whispering makes no sense.
That’s a sad thought process. You know and I know that God is not failing on his part. We just don’t listen to him. It takes a tuned ear to perceive God’s Spirit when it speaks, but it does speak. All the time, actually.
Our hearts are prone to wander. Satan’s hand has brushed your face and now loneliness fills your cup. Drink and drink of your sadness. Life is strange to you. You don’t know what you’re doing and you hope tomorrow won’t be so dizzying. Maybe tomorrow you will have a clear goal in your mind that won’t flit away like a skittish bird.
Maybe God will answer you then.
“What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 1:3
That’s an abysmal thought as well…what is the point of anything? That thought often crosses my mind when I have to get up extremely early in the morning, but it’s still a meaningful notion.
Tell me if this doesn’t sound familiar.
“Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Psalm 27:7-10
Friends, family, people…everyone fades away in their ability to help you with this feeling of worth. They can’t give you direction like God does. They can’t answer your questions or relieve you of your suffering. Only Jesus can.
The psalmist finishes his passage with this, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
Wait for God! Wait for him! Do you have any idea how many Biblical authors have repeated these words? Waiting on God…his timing is not for humans to understand.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.” Ecclesiastes 3:11-12
If you are currently enduring a plain day or an awful day or a joyful day…these things don’t matter. God will always hear his believers when they call on him and he will always answer.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” Psalm 119:10
That is what you must do too. Seek God with all your heart. Confess to him your struggles and sins and pray for strength, for guidance, for comfort, for love, for help. Whisper words into the darkness of your bedroom. Go off to a lonely place and cry out to God (Jesus often went to be alone to pray, Mark 1:35).
Whether you are a believer or not, my God…he hears you. Let your heart be soft. When you speak to God, ask him questions and seek him with good motivations. Not out of spite or out of derision. Seek him with love. Tell him that you doubt him or are afraid or are angry or are offended. Ask him to make himself known to you.
“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29
Jesus himself endorses requests of the Lord.
“‘So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.’” Luke 11:9-10, Matthew 7:7-8
It may take several days or hours or minutes. God may answer you before you can even finish your prayer.
“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24
Now stop dwelling in your affliction and sorrow. Speak to God and start receiving relief, help and love right away. I promise you that God does exist, he loves you, his son’s gift of forgiveness is necessary for your soul and finally God delights in you.
Friend, he adores you. He wants to help you. He wants to give you peace. He wants to give you a life of wonder, beauty and passion that is fulfilling and that services the lives of others. My love, how precious you are to him even though you are sinful. He loves you so much his son was tortured and killed for you. Please, don’t let Satan put you to shame and make you want to flee from God. God is ready to forgive you. He just wants you back.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
Let the plain days come and go. Let the painful days come and go. Let the days of joy hold fast in our memory. For God is present in them all.
“‘I will strengthen them in the Lord and in his name they will walk,’ declares the Lord.” Zechariah 10:12
“I will restore them and have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.” Zechariah 10:6