“Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do you hide Yourself in times of trouble?. . .Arise, O Lord. O God, lift up Your Hand; forget not the humble.”
Psalm 10:1, 12
Honesty helps us admit it; heartfelt humility helps us deal with it.
“Why do You stand afar off, O Lord?”
Has there ever been a simpler, more straightforward, straight-from-the-depths-of-the-soul question than this one? No, not really; however, seldom do we hear such questions in a mid-week prayer meeting. And, we certainly wouldn’t let others know if we were feeling that way for fear of being looked at like some faithless atheist.
Today’s Manna, written by some struggling, anonymous author, is one we also need to grapple with if we’re to grow in our faith. Our difficulty in admitting these feelings rests primarily in fear and guilt; however, confessing them reveals a sincere struggle of the soul that every saint of every generation has experienced if he’s honest.
Let’s face it:
There are times when we feel this way. There are times when we feel more like the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel than we do Elijah (I Kings 18:20-39). We have a need and cry out, “O God, hear us”. . .“but there is no Voice” (v.26a). We may not “leap upon the altar” (v.26b). . . “cut ourselves with all kinds of knives until the blood gushes out” (v.28). . .but we do beg and plead with Him, “Please, O God. Show Yourself. I need you and I need You now.”
But nothing happens.
No fire falls from Heaven. No angelic visitor appears. No check suddenly appears in the mailbox at the midnight hour. The diagnosis and prognosis don’t change; in fact, they grow worse.
And, we cry “Where are You, God? Are You listening? Don’t You see what I’m going through? Don’t You remember how much I’ve done for You through the years? Arise, O Lord. Please, lift up Your Hand and help me.”
It’s during these times of Heaven’s silence that we must “be still and know that He is God” (Ps. 46:10a) and engage in some serious “soul-talk” as the struggling saint did that day in Ps. 42. Like the author of today’s Manna, he also longed for God to come to his rescue; yet, he also knew focusing on our doubts and fears too long will lead to hopeless despair.
That’s why He said to himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God—for I shall yet praise Him for the Help of His countenance . . .and being the health of my countenance and my God” (Ps. 42:5, 11).
Others may oppose and ridicule us (Ps. 10:2-11, 13). The wicked may prosper in their evil ways with nary a problem (Ps. 73:2-12). But, it’s during those times that we must capture our thoughts and tongue, lifting high the “shield of faith” (Eph. 6:17a) as we will ourselves to “give thanks in all things” (I Thess. 5:18). Focusing on His Presence and Promises rather than our problems and others’ faithless ways will keep us from losing hope when God seems far off.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated November 11, 2009