The far-off God – September 16, 2018
Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
“They cut off her leg and left her in the road to draw us into range of the snipers!”
He was a young soldier. First tour. Just a few days into it. The email carried his confusion, frustration, and distress.
“I jumped out of the MRAP to help her, but my sergeant tackled me and dragged me back.” Someone in another vehicle also tried to run to help. He too, was pulled back. The small convoy had to stop and watch as the woman was bleeding to death. “Wait for the Blackhawks!” was the command. So, they did.
As others were wondering, “Where are the Blackhawks?” this soldier was asking himself, “Where is God?”
The writer of Psalm 10 asked the same question. He observed, “In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak” (verse 2). He complained: “He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent…” (verse 8). He then told the Lord what should happen: “Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness!” (Verse 15).
We don’t have to be in a distant and dangerous place to run into times when it seems that the Lord God is far away. We know that he exists. We know of his power and his love. But sometimes we cannot see that he is doing anything to help where he is desperately needed. It appears that he sees the problem, he sees the need to step in—but he will not engage!
What are we to think?
We are to think that he he does know. He does see. And he will act—at the time and in the way that he knows is best.
Our vision is limited. Our knowledge is scant. We cannot see even one second into the future. He knows, he sees, and he ultimately controls everything.
We are not to think that we are God.
We have absolutely no reason to doubt him. He has proven his power, his caring, and his boundless love again and again—most of all, in giving his Son to rescue us. In the end, with the psalmist we must say, “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encouraged them, and you listened to their cry.” (verse 17).
We may not see him, but he is always near. He is hidden only to human eyes. Angels can see what he is doing, and they praise him for it. We need daily to join them in those words of praise, for daily he watches over us with a Father’s care.
And about that distressed young soldier? He went on to report: “Then the Blackhawks came!” That took care of the snipers. And God no longer felt far away.
But then, he never was.
Prayer: Lord of Glory, who has bought us with your lifeblood as the price, remind and assure us that you never are far away from those who love and trust you. Keep our doubts and frail understanding from questioning your way or your will. We place ourselves, and those we love, into your care. Keep us under the shadow of your powerful hand. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
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