What’s He Like?
If by some wild chance you could craft the character of God, what traits would you add to His mix?
I think some go-to answers for us would be the ones we know to already constitute His deity; like His: omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence.
Would there be anything that you would add?
By now you might be feeling sacrilegious to even be entertaining the thought that God’s character has gaps.
There is a deep appreciation in the Christian’s heart that God is complete, yet a tension arises when situations don’t go as we think they should. Without verbalizing it we may be suggesting that God’s ways and character have some defects.
We know deep down that His characteristics are not mutually exclusive from each other, nor do they in any way contradict. So how do we make sense of those moments that feel like: “Yes, He is present. He has power. He knows a whole lot and He is good. But just maybe not for me…at least not right now”?
Where is He?
There are many times along this journey when it feels as if God has withdrawn Himself, or seems to be silent. This distance sometimes feels amplified during difficulties. We see a God in scripture that says He’ll never leave nor forsake us and one that is a very present help in times of troubles; but there are times when it just doesn’t feel that way.
Throughout the narrative of scripture there are some characters that seem to share a similar plight, David being one such. In Psalm chapter 22 verses 1-2 David says “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.”
Job in his time of devastation says at Job chapter 30 verse 20, “I cry to you for help and you do not answer me; I stand, and you only look at me.”
Silence and distance seem to sometimes come with the package of being a Christian. However, the ultimate truth of God’s word must always anchor us in those moments. He has not stopped being God and neither has He stopped being your God. As mentioned earlier, His characteristics don’t operate independently of each other. Therefore, we can be confident in His complete goodness, and complete omniscient view of the end from the beginning, when He sees it best to respond in silence.
So, what then can we learn from silence and distance?
Lessons in the silence
I will not presume to know the sovereign mind of God and his rationale for all His does, though I do appreciate that He deals with us in ways relevant to us. I will instead offer what my experiences of silence and distance have taught me and hope they might at least add perspective for you.
I have learnt that in times of silence, He has highlighted my complete need of Him. That desperation is often not so obvious when I’m fully content with life. His drawing away also evokes a sort of longing, that I might have taken for granted when He felt more accessible.
I’ve also learnt, as I mature as a believer, that a large part of what anchors my faith is the truth of His Word- not how I feel. Therefore, when He feels far in times of trouble, I need to be anchored by the truth that He never forsakes. Though I feel greatly afflicted, I must take heart for He has already overcome the world. The persecution of the saints in the Bible also provide perspective for my response to hardship, (not that they mine are any less real) but it shows that the resolve of mature believers during intense adversity ought to be an unwavering trust in the reality of their good God.
He sees. He knows
God is kind and in silence and distance we can trust that He is not playing games with our hearts. We must assure our minds and our hearts that He knows what’s best. With His full view of our past, present and future, He skillfully crafts what we need for each step.
Sometimes it’s the silence and distance, other times it’s clarity and closeness. Remind yourself always of what is true and the immutability of His nature and let that ground you.
Jhenelle has been a born again Christian for almost 17 years. She is grateful for the opportunity given by the Lord to mix all her passions, dreams, giftings and skills together.