[Jan 28]--Panting

Psalm 42-43

As we go through these psalms, one theme seems to appear repeatedly: Abandonment by God. Over and over, the psalmist (David, the sons of Korah, or whoever) was in major difficulty, was seemingly surrounded by foes, and called out to their Lord with a cry of desperation. And worst of all, on top of all their problems, it seemed as if the Lord had abandoned them to their fate.

But here is where good theology is so valuable to us. As we discussed last year at the end of Exodus, God is omnipresent. He’s everywhere at once, and he fills heaven and earth to overflowing. Therefore, he’s no more “here” than anywhere else. On top of that, once we became believers, his Spirit came to dwell within us. This is not a temporary thing, and his presence is not dependent on our performance. He said that he would never leave us or forsake us, and as long as we’re his children (which is forever), his Spirit lives within us to confirm the fact of our adoption.

But while the fact of his presence is always true, we don’t always feel it. He can feel distant, and we feel little to no comfort from him. Our prayers feel like they’re hitting the ceiling and reading the Bible feels like reading names out of the phone book. The worship experience on Sunday morning is nothing more than going through the motions, and it all feels like a waste of time. There’s no joy, no peace. I know about this from personal experience: I’ve been there too at times. You see, while his presence is always with us, sometimes, for one reason or another, he withdraws the sense of his presence.

Why would he do this? Sometimes it’s because of sin. In fact, if you’re going through this type of “dry spell,” that'd be the first place I’d look. Read Psalm 139:23-24 as a prayer, and ask him to point out any hidden sin that you’re been holding on to.

But sometimes there’s nothing particularly wrong with your relationship. This was the case with Job, of course. He wasn’t sinless, but he was trying to follow the Lord as best he could, and the Almighty actually bragged about him to the angels. But for his own mysterious reasons, the Lord handed him over to the Adversary to be pummeled. Job's life became the ultimate Country-Western song: He lost all his wealth, his children, the respect of his wife and community, and his health. He sat in misery, trying to use potsherds to scrape at the sores to get some relief, while he had to listen to his “friends” accuse him of harboring egregious sin in his life. But you know the worst part? It seemed that God had turned his back on him, or that he was even angry with him. Job had no sense of God’s comforting presence, because that had been withdrawn from him as well.

What do we do at times like this? Well, assuming there’s no specific sin problem, then ask him to renew that sense of his presence. Focus on what you know from his word, and—sorry, I have to be blunt here—tell your feelings where they can get off. Look for comfort from your siblings in Christ, because I promise you that they’ve been through the same thing. And at the right time and in the right way, he'll make his presence known again. He’s here. He hasn’t gone anywhere.

Lord Jesus, your presence is my joy, my peace, my life. You're water to my soul, light in my darkness. Please help me to walk even closer, by your grace.

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