Where is God When It Hurts?
October 6, 2018
Earlier this week was the one year remembrance of the mass shooting in this city. No one could had seen it coming and many thought it could not happen in this city. It happened late at night on a sunday near the downtown area, and I had no idea it happened until I woke up Monday morning and checked the news. All day I could not focus being flooded with different emotions of surprise, did this really happen, why could this happen and what is going to happen next.
There have probably been a thousand times in my life I have wondered, where is God in the midst of a particular situation, whether it be global, local, or things that happen personally. How do we make sense of things we cannot understand. There are moments when I engage in a spiritual wrestling match with God. The Psalmist is no stranger to these situations. There is a lesson from Psalm 22:
1My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
You seem far from saving me,
far away from my groans.
2 My God, I call to you during the day,
but you do not answer.
I call at night;
I am not silent.
3 You sit as the Holy One.
The praises of Israel are your throne.
4 Our ancestors trusted you;
they trusted, and you saved them.
5 They called to you for help
and were rescued.
They trusted you
and were not disappointed.
6 But I am like a worm instead of a man.
People make fun of me and hate me.
7 Those who look at me laugh.
They stick out their tongues and shake their heads.
8 They say, “Turn to the Lord for help.
Maybe he will save you.
If he likes you,
maybe he will rescue you.”
9 You had my mother give birth to me.
You made me trust you
while I was just a baby.
10 I have leaned on you since the day I was born;
you have been my God since my mother gave me birth.
11 So don’t be far away from me.
Now trouble is near,
The Psalmist opens up with a cry for help, it is interesting that he cries out to God but in that moment he feels as though he feels abandoned by God. I think this is where many of us are at when there are situations beyond our understanding. We have enough faith to cry out to God, but not enough faith to know He is still here.
From verses 3-5 the Psalmist remembers the goodness and rescue of God in the past by his ancestors. I think that is a good place to go, when God seems far off, it is good to be reminded of His goodness and kindness throughout history.
Then from berses 6-8 he goes back to his present situation and how tough things are for him. We can remember how God has been good in history, but it does not make the hard things go away, and in that moment, we want everything to be fine.
Then in verses 9-10 he goes back to remembering how God has been his help since the day he was born. There are times when we need to not only see how God has been kind in other people’s lives or in history, but how has God been kind in our own lives.
There is this back and forth struggle of how he feels and knowing the fact God has come through both in history and in his own life personally. Feelings often are our worst enemy when times are difficult. We question God the most when we sense his nearness the least. It is in these moments when our faith must override our feelings and be confident that God is going to come through again.
Six years ago I woke up one morning and could not walk. For about 11 months I was in a wheelchair and could not even stand up without holding on to something. Slowly, I could walk very short distances but it took great effort. All my life up to that point I could walk normal, run, and jump. There have been so many times in these six years when I have that same prayer, that crying out for help, deliverance, rescue, and feeling abandoned by God. Somehow through this, I still need to trust God has never left, and that help, deliverance, healing and hope are still real as it has in times past.
Our Father in Heaven, sometimes things just do not make sense. In those moments, we like the Psalmist cry out to You, but sense that you are far off. Help us to remember in those moments that You have shown Your kindness and help in history but more importantly in our own lives. There are times and seasons when we do not feel Your nearness, and in these moments it truely becomes a walk of faith. Guard our hearts from doubts and discouragements in these times.