looking for God

Job was – looking for God that is. And Job was not having much success. In fact, listen to what Job said at one point –

“But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him.” (Job 23:8-9)

Ever feel like that? Ever find yourself searching desperately for God and yet God seems to elude you no matter which way you turn? That describes Job’s experience as we see in the words above from Job chapter twenty-three. Job wanted a face to face with God. Job had a bone to pick with God and he wanted some answers. Everything Job owned had been taken from him, including his health. Job’s suffering was intense and he wanted to ask God why he was suffering in such an extreme way. Job felt he had done nothing to deserve his current circumstances. He blamed God and demanded that God explain Himself. Job said to his three friends –

“But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God.” (Job 13:3)

Only problem was, as we just read, Job was having trouble finding God so he could have that all important chat and plead his case. Job felt that he didn’t deserve the suffering that had come into his life. Job was asking the age old question of God, “why?” or more specifically, “why me?” But God was not only silent, He couldn’t be found. Or so Job thought.

There are times I, like Job, find myself searching for God. I can’t find Him, I can’t see Him, I can’t feel Him, I can’t hear Him. He has abandoned me. Or so I think. In these times of asking “where is God,” I come to realize it is I who have moved, I who have changed direction and focus, perhaps in pursuit of something or someone other than God. Then I look up and realize I have lost my way during the pursuit that took me away from God and now I wonder where God is. Fortunately, God said this in Jeremiah 29:13-14,

” ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’ ”

Job had such faith in God that even when he couldn’t find God, Job knew that God could find him. Indeed, Job acknowledged that God had never lost him for even a moment, but knew exactly where he was and saw everything that was happening to him. Immediately after announcing to his friends that he couldn’t find God, Job said these words –

“But He (God) knows the way that I take; when He (God) has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

I find these words of Job’s a bit surprising considering he has lost everything and is feeling unjustly treated and totally abandoned by God. And yet, bottom line – Job still believes God is watching over him and will bring him through his suffering to a good end. After all, “coming forth as gold” is something good. It actually foreshadows something Peter says in the New Testament when he talks about suffering saying –

“though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6-9)

No question that Job’s faith was being tested. But Job didn’t abandon his faith in God, even when he felt abandoned by God. Job had to rely on a God he couldn’t see, hear, feel or find at the moment. Even so, Job said of God –

“Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him;” (Job 13:15) and Job said –

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

Faith in the midst of suffering. Hope when circumstances seem hopeless. That’s what Job had. Although Job thought God to be silent during his time of suffering, Elihu, a fourth friend of Job, pointed out to Job that this was not actually the case. Elihu said this to Job –

“Why do you complain to Him that He answers none of man’s words? For God does speak – now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it.” (Job 33:13-14)

A good reminder to me when I am suffering. God is not silent – He is speaking to me and to anyone who will listen. The question is – am I listening? C.S. Lewis says, “God whispers in our pleasure and shouts in our pain.” But I think it is in my pain that I have the most difficulty hearing Him. Maybe God is shouting but just maybe I am shouting too – too loudly to hear Him above my cries of complaint or distress or my demands to know why. I forget to “be still and know that He is God.”

When I am still I am better able to hear His voice. I can even hear His songs in the night, which Elihu spoke of in Job 35:10 when he said –

“But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night.”

Where is God in my suffering? The same place He was in Job’s trials, in Daniel’s lions’ den, in the trial by fire of Daniel’s three friends, in the Israelites’ journey through the desert, in Paul’s imprisonment – in all suffering – God is present. Job couldn’t find Him, see Him, feel Him or hear Him – but that doesn’t mean God wasn’t there. He has already said He will never leave us nor forsake us. I need to remember that truth.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:17-18)

Job had lost everything. He was brokenhearted and he was crushed in spirit, but God was close to him -closer than Job even realized at the time. The Lord heard Job and delivered him from all his troubles. Job believed that God would rescue and restore him, despite what he was experiencing in his current circumstances. I think Job would have identified with these words of King David written in the midst of his suffering,

“I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14)

I am making those words my own –

sincerely, Grace Day

2 thoughts on “looking for God

  1. I really loved this blog. It may be because it resonated with the study we are doing right now on the book of job. I had a dear elderly friend who passed away years ago that said she could hear angels singing to her at night. It made me think of the verse you mentioned from job where elihu said about god sings in the night. My mother in law has heard old gospel songs that wake her up in the night and she went to the door to see if someone was outside singing or playing Gospel songs really loud. The last passage that you closed with from psalms 27 has been one of my favorite go to verses god gave to me when I was fearful of losing my son. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living….Wait on the Lord…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Familiar cries of my soul …. “Why?”, “Are you listening, God”?” and “How long, Lord?”. Thank you for reminding me in every circumstance and in every season, I can find God’s reassurance and hope in His spoken Word and comfort in knowing I am never far from His outstretched arms
    and His promises.

    Like

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