When God Seems Absent

In this battle with the past and the evil that was done against me, I have often wondered where He was. Where was this God who parted the Red Sea to lead the Israelites to freedom when I was repeatedly being molested as a child? Where was this God who walked on water when I was drowning in shame and self-contempt? Where was the One who spoke to the wind and stilled the storm when I had a storm raging inside of me? Where was He when the memories began to torment, nightmares were on replay, and I started using? Where was He when I swallowed pills and guzzled alcohol? Where was He when I shot poison into my veins the first time? Where? And when I cried out to Him over and over, why didn’t He answer?

And maybe you have some of those same questions: where was God when your baby died?  Where was He when you were abused? Where was He when your spouse was unfaithful? Where was He when your husband lost his job?  Where was He when your child rebelled? Where was He when you lost everything? Where is He right now in your current struggle, whatever it is?

And God does not leave us alone in our wondering and questioning. He doesn’t turn away from our raw, broken-hearted cries. Instead, through His Word, He speaks  the answers to our questions. The God who has seemed silent and absent speaks.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.    Psalm 139:7-12 (emphasis mine)

No matter where I have been or what I have done, He has been right there with me. When He seems silent, His right hand is holding me. When I was choosing to shoot poison into my veins instead of running to Him (isn’t that just making my bed in Sheol?), He was right there with me. When men were using me and abusing me, He was walking through that darkest night with me. It may not have felt like it. I may not have heard Him, but He was there, leading me even then, strengthening me, preserving me. When, as a small child, I curled up in the bottom of my closet, pulling the weight of a tattered green and white quilt over myself, He was there. When the memories began to torment me again, He was walking through them with me. I didn’t feel Him or hear Him, but He promises me that He was there…and He is here with me now.

Over the past few years, I have kept a journal. Every time I turn back through the pages, even in the pain, I see evidences of His goodness. A friend would call at just the right time. My husband would hug me while I cried. Someone would text me a Scripture. I would read aloud to my child and the book would point me to Jesus. Or this one faithful friend would meet me when I was at my worst and sip coffee with me, let me cry, speak truth to the lies.

And I am confident of this: whatever you are battling today, whether God seems silent or absent, God is right in the battle with you. He is pulling you out of the miry pit, just like He did me.

He drew me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. (Psalm 40:2, ESV)

I pray He enables you to believe that His word holds true. He is with you, holding you and leading you. He hasn’t left you. Not once. No matter what the difficulty or trial is, God is walking with you, leading you.

Here are a few practical things that may help, but you don’t need to do them all:

Keep a journal. Try to find something every day to give thanks for, evidence that He is near. Some days, my journal said something as small as, “the sun shined today” or “my guy brought home pizza.” Other days, I heard God through His word reminding me of His presence and I recorded the verses in my journal to look back on when I needed comfort.

Copy Scriptures onto note cards. Carry them in your purse or pocket. This pink card traveled many miles and through many tears with me.

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Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him – my father’s God, and I will exalt him!

Find a trusted friend who will listen without trying to fix you. The kind that doesn’t judge your faith based on your need to just spew your feelings, but is willing to cry and pray with you. I had one specific friend who met me often for coffee and just let me cry. It was so important to release my emotions and not bury them in my heart.

If necessary, find a good Christian counselor to help you navigate this difficult terrain. This was essential to my recovery. I was blessed to have a counselor who practiced E.M.D.R. and who was well versed in not only addiction, but also how to deal with survivors of child abuse.

One of the worst things that most of us  do when we are struggling is isolate, close others out of our pain and sorrow. I know. I did it. But the truth is, Satan loves to separate us from the people we need the most. He loves to shame us into hiding in a closet or withdrawing from life. God calls us to community.  We heal in community. Some ideas for finding a safe community to share your heart ache with:

Pray and consider joining a Christian 12 step program or group counselling. I joined one that allowed me to speak the struggles in my heart without anyone trying to fix me or judge me.

Join a small Bible study group. Spending time in God’s Word with a group helped me keep my eyes fixed on Jesus even when I struggled to believe He was near.

Get involved in your church’s small group ministry.  Find ways to serve others – take a meal, rake a yard, send a card.

 

 

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