Friday, November 11, 2016

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?

Psalm 10: 1 Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

There came that day when I cried out, "God, where are You? I thought You loved me! I thought You wanted good things for me. This is not good! I have been praying and trusting You with this for so many years now. Are you really good? And if You are, what now? Because this isn't working! I've got to agree with Jeremiah when he lamented, 'My splendor is gone and all that I hoped for from the Lord.'" That day was not just a day; it was years upon years of pain and unanswered questions, of walking faithfully and waiting, of trusting that the circumstances I desperately wanted would come to fruition.

I was not alone in my dismay. Jeremiah cried out too. David questioned, "How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?" Job had these strong words, "I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer. I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me." Here are men God loved, God chose, God spoke to. It's not an easy road for the faithful. St. Teresa of Avila said, "If this is how you treat your friends, Lord, it's no wonder you have so few."

So, He stands far off. He withdraws that we might hunger for Him.

 He lets things go terribly wrong that I may see how I was depending on things going right. He lets that loved one fail me so I will know who I was looking to for my hope. He shrinks or even destroys my bank account to awaken me to how I've worshiped at the altar of comfort and convenience.

He may take my job, my health, my family, my home. Whether He takes one or all of these I say, "You have taken everything from me!"

 "Everything?"

There is silence as my soul tunes in.

His Spirit speaks to me, "I thought I was your Everything. Do you remember saying that I was all you needed? Did those songs you sang to Me come from your heart and or only your lips?" Hard questions, tender voice.

I contemplate other questions that He didn't ask: Who is my god? Who is my everything? Have I let this person or this work or this way of life become my god? Will I let go of My Hope?

"No, Lord," I reply, "I will not let go of my hope in You. And yes, Lord, I declare that those songs were not empty worship. I will say with Job, 'Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him.' For who has the words of life, but You? Who, but You, can heal me in this moment? Who, but You, are able to redeem my life from the pit that it has become? Only One, only You. There is no other.

The weight of trying to make sense of what cannot be understood in this world drops from my shoulders. The Father gathers me as I crumble on the floor among pieces of shattered dreams. He holds me close to His heart... so close I think I will never leave this place, this moment, this grace.

The things that were lost to me are still lost. Nothing is restored yet and I have no sure word that any of it will be while I remain here on this earth.

Hebrews 11:39 says of the faithful, "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what was promised."

Will I be well satisfied with God if He enables me to be faithful, but doesn't give me what I want in the here and now? That is a question I have to ask myself daily.

 Heaven is there, not here. I only have His Word that He is enough. He is Life. He is Everything. I look down at hands that have released their demands and are now open. And I rest in surrender.