I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
Is it possible for God to ever be far from us? Does He ever withdraw Himself? We can debate these questions all day long, but one thing is certain – sometimes it feels like He’s gone away.
I thought about the former days, the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart mused and my spirit enquired:
“Will the Lord reject for ever?
Will he never show his favour again?”
On those days, we wonder if we will ever know His presence again. It seems like such a terminal condition. When you’re in the desert, there’s nothing but sand as far as the eye can see.
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.
But when I feel that distance, I remember that there have been many times in my life when God has felt impossibly close. I remember specific, life-shaping encounters; dragons being slain; explicit guidance; tears of gratitude. I remember times when God was so real to me that I cried out, “LORD, I can’t imagine ever being depressed again!”
Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
And I realise that someone, somewhere, is meeting with God right now. Someone is bumping into Jesus for the first time. Someone is being healed; forgiven; challenged; changed forever. Someone, somewhere in this world is in the middle of a full-on, black and white encounter with the Father’s grace. God may feel distant from me right now, but I am a very small part of a very big universe. In my solitary, self-centred world I may suffer, but I have a big family. Somewhere, one of my brothers or sisters feels as close to God as they have ever felt.
I celebrate. I rejoice with this unnamed, unknown saint.
I am thankful, because I remember that although God feels absent today, He will draw near again. He always does.
When I was younger, the desert would often stretch out for days and months. These days I’m better at finding the hidden streams. Sometimes God feels far away, but not for long.