“ ‘Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?’ says the Lord” (Hebrews 4:16).
In part 1 of “Losing Sight of God,” I asked, “If God is always with us, what keeps us from continually experiencing His presence?” If we cannot hide from an Omnipresent God, how is it that we don’t “see” Him on a regular basis? I offered that similar to the way that I often “lose” my wife in the store because something else attracts my attention, we can become disoriented by some distraction and lose sight of God.
In scripture, I see many instances where a person’s preoccupation with some distraction has disorientated them to the point where they almost completely miss the immediate presence of God.
Discouragement – “So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery” (Ex. 6:9).
How do you respond when God doesn’t answer your prayers right away? What happens to your faith when that “delay” results in you feeling overwhelmed by your circumstances and challenges? If a battery is discharged, it means that its reserve of energy has been depleted. If you become discouraged, it means that your reserve of courage has been depleted. When God does not seem to answer when we appeal or appear to come when we call, our impatient natures make us become restless, whining and weary in our waiting. Remembering God’s promises and reviewing his faithfulness, replenishes our tanks of courage and renews our strength. God is near, but do you have the courage to rejoice in his presence while you wait on his perfect timing and trust in the fulfillment of His perfect will?
Pride– “Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage” (2 Kings 5:12; read 1-14) .
Naaman was a picture of irony: He was a highly respected war hero, but had been afflicted with leprosy (5:1). He balked at the simple cure offered to him by the prophet Elisha (“Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” 5:10) because he felt Elisha had not shown him the proper respect due his status (5:11,12). Eventually he submitted, but he nearly missed out on experiencing God’s healing power because he thought his position with men gave him a higher standing with God. How about you? Are you of the mindset that God “owes you” better than you are receiving because of your service, your giving or your righteousness? God is near, but you could be in danger of not seeing Him if you demand that He responds to you on your terms.
Tragedy– “When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:20-21).
Without seeing their body language and facial expressions or hearing the tone of their words, it’s hard to be certain whether the words of the grieving sisters were accusatory or statements of confidence in the Lord’s power. I suspect it was a bit of both. In the aftermath of tragedy, in the ache of bereavement and loss, we often repeat the same sentiment – “Lord, if only you had been there…” Ponder this: What makes you think he was not? The presence of problems does not necessarily indicate the absence of God. Because He chooses not to delay a death or divert of a disaster, it doesn’t mean that He is incapable of doing so or uncaring about the impact on us. God is near, but will you let the darkness of loss rob you of the ability to detect the fingerprints of God upon every detail of your life?
God has NOT left the building!