In the midst of the storms of our lives, it’s tempting to think that God has forgotten about those He has committed Himself to save. To many who go on in their Christian lives, there are those times when it seems God has removed Himself from the scene. It’s not uncommon to think that God is occupied by more important people or needs, as though He isn’t able to manage everything at once. More common still, in those circumstances, is the thought that God has abandoned us because we have offended Him in some way It’s then we become pre-occupied with endless introspection and in so doing, dishonour God by not giving Him the love and devotion that He deserves. A couple of days ago, I read two passages in sequence in my ordinary Bible reading, that put to rest the idea that God isn’t there in the seeming silences of our lives. Psalm 121 is a wonderful reminder of the fact that God never rests from watching over His own children. “The Lord himself watches over you!” says vs 4 in the New Living Translation. “The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade” And in vs 8, “The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”
A New Testament commentary on this thought came before me at the same time in John 6:16-21, where Jesus seems strangely absent from the lives of the disciples. He has gone away after the “feeding of the 5000.” They wait for Him to return to the boats so they can leave for Capernaum. He doesn’t come, so they go out on their own when it is very late in the day. To make matters worse, a huge storm develops while they are about 5 kilometers from shore. One can imagine that they are highly stressed by Jesus’ inattention. In the words of Psalm 107, “they are at their wits end.” But it’s then, they see Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They are “terrified” both by the storm and the sight of this One coming to them who they do not immediately recognize. But the One who is “always there ” speaks and says, “I am here! Don’t be afraid.” They let Him in and immediately, their situation was resolved.
Sometimes, it seems, God allows these periods of silence to develop in our lives when this principle of His abiding presence and care is really tested. I think the issue for all of us as we pass through these times is whether we are willing and able to trust Him and worship Him, even when everything isn’t working the way we think it should. This is also the great lesson of Job’s experience. And as we know, even he grew weary in faith as his ordeal wore on, so that the Lord had to give him a mighty revelation once again of His greatness, whereupon “he repented…”
It’s comforting to know that even if we fail to trust Him in the stormy silences of our lives, He is still there because His promise is, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). But what an honour it must be to Him when we worship Him, love Him and trust Him even in those times, too.