When God Seems Distant; July 23, 2019

Psalm 13:5-6 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me.

The past few days it has come out how David heard from God, but this Psalm makes it clear there were times when he felt like he wasn’t hearing a thing. We all have times like that, and they are an indication that God is a good parent. Being totally available to your children 100% of the time tends to make them self-centered and stunts their growth. Of course, we are physically and emotionally limited in just how much attention we can give our children. God has no such limitations, but He still seems to back off sometimes. The path of maturity is to stay obedient to what we have already heard from Him, doing what these verses say David did: remind ourselves of how good God has already been to us, and praise Him accordingly. As came out strongly in this past Sunday’s message, trusting God is a choice, and we won’t learn to make it consistently until we learn to make it when it’s hard. An interesting difference in translation comes out in verse 5. I chose the Scriptures for this series by doing a computer search for the English word, love, and then deciding how much context to include with the verses that came up. However, as I read the passages in Japanese, I find that about half the time the term that is used isn’t the one that is usually rendered “love” in English, but rather the one that is usually rendered “grace.” They are indeed inextricably connected. God would not be so gracious toward us if He didn’t love us, and because we can’t earn His love, it is by definition grace. Here, the Japanese says, “I depend on Your grace.” When we remind ourselves of how much better God has treated us than we deserved, we can get through all sorts of trials with flying colors.

This is certainly true for me. Considering how much I have ignored God over the course of my life, despite having known a lot about Him from infancy, I hardly have room to complain if He doesn’t seem instantly responsive to me! That said, the longer I walk with Him, the more responsive I feel He really is. It’s like the Bill Gaither song says, “The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.” As a pastor, I am constantly dealing with people who haven’t gained the maturity to trust God regardless of their circumstances. Interestingly, that includes parents who are constantly complaining about their children, not recognizing the irony of the situation. I know that since becoming a parent I have learned a lot about God that I otherwise would not have grasped. Now that I am a grandparent – and great-grandparent – I have learned about how God can sometimes be downright indulgent toward us. Over time I have learned how incredibly patient God is with us, and I am deeply grateful. I need to extend that same patience toward those to whom I minister, giving them the chance to grow as God intends, for their blessing and God’s glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me remember that You are never far from me, whatever it feels like, and help others to come to that same realization, so that we may all be the children You desire, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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