“How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?”
Evil and human suffering saturate the world. The Scriptures acknowledge this fact, observing that, “man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). No less authority than the Lord Jesus Himself observed and declared that life in this world meant experiencing tribulation of one kind or other (John 16:33). For those of us who believe in a loving God Who is in sovereign control of this world, the hard things we experience are not only challenging, but downright perplexing. Our atheist antagonists will often point to evil and human suffering as evidence of God’s non-existence, as though it is impossible for God to have a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil and human suffering to persist. The fact that this possibility does exist is sufficient to render the logical version of the atheist’s argument null and void. This simple observation may neutralize our opponent’s argument, but clever apologetics are by themselves insufficient to soothe our nerves and ease our minds. We long to hear from God directly in our trials. It is just then, however, that God can seem the most silent, the most distant. The psalmists experienced this very thing. Putting his frustration into song, one asked, “Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1). “How long, LORD?” wrote Ethan the Ezrahite, “wilt thou hide thyself for ever?” (Psalm 89:46). Ethan was a wise man (1 Kings 4:31), and certainly acquainted with David’s celebration of God’s continual self disclosure in nature (Psalm 19:1-6). Nevertheless, Ethan felt, as we all do from time to time, that God was deliberately ignoring him. Another psalmist went even further, expressing to God that it felt as though He were asleep! “Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord?” he wrote, “arise, cast us not off for ever. Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?” (Psalm 44:23-24). It is helpful to remember that in God’s economy, our faith in Him is of great price and worthy of great reward. “Because thou hast seen me,” declared Jesus to the once doubting Thomas, “thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). We may increase our faith by diligent study of the Scriptures; “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The Scriptures remind us that, despite our feelings on the matter, God is always present with us and in us (Matthew 28:20; Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthiasn 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:14; Hebrews 13:5-6; Colossians 1:27). Most precious of all, we see God’s abiding presence in the kind words and selfless actions of our fellow Christians (1 John 4:12). Until faith gives way to sight, let us excel in this ministry also, for God’s glory and for the blessedness of His people.
God bless you, dear saints,