Why is it that the moment we are in the midst of the worst circumstances, God seems so far away? And the more we pray and seek His help, ever believing for God’s mercy and grace, the more it seems that He doesn’t respond? Is this how Job felt when he said, “Even today my complaint is still bitter; his hand is heavy despite my groaning. O that I knew where I might find him…If I go to the east, he is not there, and to the west, yet I do not perceive him. In the north when he is at work, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I see no trace of him.” (Job 23:2-3, 8-9 NET)?
But wait. Hasn’t God promised to never leave us or forsake us? “…He will not fail you or abandon you!” (Deut. 31:6 NET). Why then, in the midst of our problems, is He not there?
Recently my husband and I had the privilege of visiting “Rock City Park” in Olean, New York. This is a unique land formation made up of tall, flat-topped boulders with narrow, deep ravines running between them. It is most impressive to see how deep these ravines are, and I was leaning out over one when my sunglasses slipped from my head and tumbled to the bottom.
Of course, they were just sunglasses, but they had cost 25$, and I really didn’t want to lose them. At the first opportunity, my husband and I took the designated staircase to the foot of the boulders and searched every ravine we found. As I reached the end of one long, narrow crevice, I noticed a small opening that led to the next one. Certain that we were in about the same place where I had lost my glasses, I “corkscrewed” my way through that opening. Things didn’t seem quite right from the other side, however. The landmarks weren’t quite the same. This couldn’t be the right spot…and I squirmed my way back out.
We went back to the gift shop next, and I asked the attendant if there was any way to get those glasses. He was kind enough to loan us a tall ladder, and I was able to climb down the designated ravine to rescue my eyewear. As I was heading back towards the ladder, however, I noticed a familiar-looking opening under a fallen boulder…I was in the same ravine I had wiggled my way into not 30 minutes earlier. I had been where my sunglasses had fallen, I had likely come very close to stepping on them; but I hadn’t seen them. Once I had crawled out of that tiny hole under the fallen boulder, my eyes had immediately gone upward, and I had been too intent on the landmarks at the top to even search the ground under my feet.
While in the midst of our problems, it seems that God is as lost as my sunglasses. In the same way I searched for my eyewear, we search for God; and just like the glasses were, indeed, right there, so is God. Hasn’t He promised to never forsake us (Deut. 31:6)? Isn’t He faithful? “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” (Deut. 7:9 NLT. See also Ps. 36:5, Ps. 119:90, 1 Cor. 1:9, Rom 3:3, etc.). The bottom line is this: God is faithful to keep His promises, and this includes His promise to never leave us or forsake us.
The problem is, just as I was too distracted with trying to figure out where I was in relation to where I had been when the sunglasses fell to actually see them under my feet, we can easily become distracted by our circumstances; and when we allow our eyes to fix on our problems, we won’t see, feel or hear God’s presence. This doesn’t change the facts, however, that God is always faithful and will never abandon us. Whether we realize it or not, He is carrying us through.
So what do we do when we can’t find God in the web of our circumstances?
The first thing I did to find my sunglasses was look for them. In the same way, we need to seek God, especially in times when we don’t see Him. The second thing I did was find a ladder. There is a “ladder” for finding God as well. Our “ladder” is our faith in His goodness and love. We need to cling to the fact that even when we don’t see Him, even when it appears that He isn’t answering our prayers, it is then that He is carrying us through. When we fully embrace this Truth, we will begin to see His hand upon us, even in the midst of our circumstances.
Don’t abandon the search. Instead, seek Him. Get out your “ladder” of faith and keep on believing in the One who will never abandon you to your circumstance.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.