God, Where Are You?
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God, Where Are You?
God, Where Are You?
We are going to talk about something that most believers do not want to talk about or are to afraid to talk about. As we embark on this mornings topic, I assure you that God has big shoulders and he can handle our thoughts and questions. “God, where are you in my pain and suffering?”
We are promised that there will be times of trouble. Heartache, frustration, depression, grief, anxiety, and death. Why? We live in a broken world that, through free-will, humans perpetuate evil and sin at every turn. Every believer at some point is shaken to their core and will ask the question “God, Where are you?”
Part of the problem is in our skewed misconception of God. We have developed an incorrect rationale that God has a job, and His job is to help us. Somehow we have turned God into some kind of magician, some kind of security blanket, or a genie in a bottle. We end up seeking spiritual highs from God, and unless we get that high, God must be absent.
Many believers base their faith on these feelings. We all have said “I don’t feel God,” “I don’t feel the Spirit,” I am here to tell you this morning that how you or I “feel” has no impact on the truth that is God, or on what Christ did at that cross, or on your adoption into His kingdom.
Our faith is not dependent on how we feel moment to moment. I am not saying that our feelings do not matter, our feelings are valid, and your feelings matter. What I am saying is that we cannot rely on feelings, as the Apostle Paul says, “human emotions shift like the wind.” Our faith exists in an eternal God.
Let’s look at a few examples this morning.
3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
This is the great prophet Elijah! He just witnessed the power of God against the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel. God sent all consuming fire and turned to ash the offering, the alter, and all the water that Elijah had put forth.
Yet, because of one person, Jezebel, Elijah becomes scared and incredibly depressed. So much so, that he asks God to take his life. Elijah wanted to die.
Do you know what God does? God sends an angel to look after him while he is sleeping. The angel gets him up, feeds him, and tells him to go back to sleep. Wakes him and feeds him again so that Elijah can make the 40 day journey to Mt. Sinai.
Some of us have met and we know servants of God who act on God’s behalf. You may be sitting next to one right now. I know for a fact that in this congregation, there are people who have fed and looked after the broken hearted.
God makes a point to Elijah and to us today. Here is what happened at Mt. Sinai:
11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
Here is what we know: Elijah remained obedient. It took action on Elijah’s part. He had to get up and make the trip to Mt. Sinai. He had to GO OUT and stand before God. Elijah knew that the gentle whisper was God.
Sometimes, in our pain, we want to see the big things, the big miracles, the mind blowing signs. Often we will forget about or even ignore the voice of God that we have already experienced. The nudge or the gentle whisper we know is His.
He will never leave us nor forsake us. He does bring peace to the brokenhearted. We have to be present, with Him, to receive His healing. God expects us to do our part. Like Elijah, grab onto Him, get up, and go.
Let’s look at another example:
In John 5, there was a man who had been paralyzed for thirty eight years. There was this pool called the “Pool at Bethesda.” They believed that if you got in the pool at a certain time during the year, you would be healed. Jesus finds this paralyzed man near the pool and says this:
6 When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
Jesus asks a very direct question of us. “Do you want to get well?” To get well, we must want to get well and be willing to do whatever it takes. In psychology, we have a real simple double question: “What do you want?” “What are you willing to do to make it happen?”
7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
“I can’t.” This man has a defeatist and a negative attitude, showing no resilience. “I can’t.”
The man made excuses, whether they are true or not is irrelevant, he has given up. Look what happens next:
8 Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk. The man had to put forth the effort, he had to believe. He had to get out of his own head so that the LORD could do His work in him. Do we all receive physical healings like this man? No. God will do His work through every person that allows Him. Seek Him and you will find Him.
You are not alone this morning. You have the indwelling of the very Spirit of God, Holy Spirit, and you have a cloud of witnesses in the body of Christ surrounding you this moment. You are not alone.
When pancreatic cancer took my dad, I said “God where are you in this?”
When Alzheimer's took Carolyn’s mom, I said “God please reveal yourself in this”
When Heroin took my baby sister, I said “God why didn't you stop this!”
When my step-dad died, I cried out to the LORD “When is enough enough!”.
When my mom dropped dead from an alcoholic induced heart attack brought on by grief, I screamed at God “I do not see you in this!”
Most recently, when Carolyn’s dad died after a long battle with lung disease and organ failure, I pleaded with God, “LORD, I beg you, show yourself!”
The thing is, Jesus was there with us through the fire, through the hurt, through the pain. He did not bring the pain, but when we sought Him in the darkest moments, we saw His hand on and in everything. God does not create the fire we are walking through, but Jesus walks through the fire with each of us.
We must get out of our own heads at times and let Him do His work in us!
There may be somebody thinking “This teaching does not apply to me at all.” Yes it does. If you do not experience what we are talking about today, praise God! Your job then is to come up beside someone who is experiencing it.
I have two more verses for you. These are tough. Many people have read but haven’t given much thought to these verses. If you suffer or have suffered with depression, anxiety, thoughts of death, crushing grief, or emotional trauma, Jesus Christ can empathize.
34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
This takes place hours before Jesus is arrested at the Garden at Gethsemane. Notice it does not say Spirit, it says “soul.” The Greek word for “soul” is psuchē (soo-kay), meaning heart and life. Jesus’ heart was crushed. The sorrow that Jesus feels is so extreme, the grief is so intense, Jesus’ heart is so strained, that it becomes life threatening. Jesus is experiencing acute anxiety, major depression, and thoughts of dying all at once. Jesus felt like he was dying inside.
So intense where these emotions that Luke records:
44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.
Jesus knows how we feel. His suffering had been revealed to Him. The cup of suffering that he would endure. A cup he willingly took even though he did not deserve it. Knowing that he would suffer a horrible and painful death. Knowing that for the first time in his earthly life, on the cross, he would be separated from His Father as he carried the sin of the world. My sin, your sin, becoming the atoning sacrifice for you and for me.
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Yet, in that garden, Jesus prayed, he prayed this prayer three times. He drew close to God through the anguish. Emotionally and physically exhausted, Jesus got up so he could go. He found no comfort in the disciples who kept falling asleep. He found his comfort in God.
Yes, God is there in your hurt, and in your pain. The question is: “Are we looking for Him through the tears and the grief?” “Are we listening for him through the noise?”
Abba Daddy loves you. He wants you to know that he didn't create the fire you have walked through or you may be walking through right now, but Jesus, sweet Jesus, walks with you through the fire. Amen?