3 Reasons God Seems Absent During Difficult Times
April 27, 2015
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Have you ever wondered if the Lord had only showed up on time that perhaps things would have turned out differently for you? Perhaps you had some bills that were past due, or problems with a spouse or a child, or a loved one who was sick.
Mary and Martha found themselves in this exact situation when their brother Lazarus was dying. We find this story in John chapter 11 in the Bible. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were dear friends of Jesus, and when Lazarus became very ill, the two sisters sent word to Jesus who was in another town at the time. They had witnessed the Lord Jesus heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and restore the disabled, so they probably thought He would rush to be at Lazarus’ side.
However, we learn in John 11:6 that Jesus stayed where He was for two more days before going back to Judea to visit his friends. And in that time, Lazarus died.
Has there ever been a time when you asked the Lord where He was when you needed Him the most? Or why He didn’t help you when you were crying out to Him?
One answer to this question is that God wants us to be patient. We don’t like to wait on anybody or anything for any reason. We’re always in a hurry. We want everything fast. If we need to have a medical procedure, we want outpatient surgery. If we need financial help, we’ll use Quicken or TurboTax. If our cars need a tune-up, we go to Jiffy Lube. We want our breakfast in a hurry so we’ll make instant oatmeal or pick up fast food. If we need to lose weight that has taken us years to gain, we use Slim Fast.
So often, we don’t want to wait on God for His solution to our problem. Over and over again, the Bible instructs us to wait on the Lord. But we are impatient, and then become irritated, hurt, or offended when God doesn’t act according to our timetable.
So often, we don’t want to wait on God for His solution to our problem. Over and over again, the Bible instructs us to wait on the Lord.
And the reason why we are impatient and question, “Where is God?” when we’re struggling is because we fail to see the big picture. Whenever you are wondering, “God, where are You? Why didn’t You answer my prayer?” one of three things is happening:
1.) Growth – God is developing your growth; He is trying to teach you some things. He wants to grow and stretch you. I once heard the story of a boy who was born severely handicapped. His mother had done everything for him—fed him, dressed him, took care of him. One day, she laid out his clothes on his bedroom floor. She told him that he needed to get dressed on his own. The boy screamed, pouted, cried. He shouted, “Mom, you don’t love me any more!” Somewhere in the midst of his temper tantrum, the boy realized his mother wasn’t going to help him. So he started getting dressed by himself. It took him two hours.
Years later, he learned that his mother had been in the very next room. She could hear everything her child was saying. The entire the time boy was crying, she was crying! But she knew he needed to learn how to dress himself. The mother saw the big picture. The boy thought his mother had abandoned him and didn’t love him anymore, but the opposite was true. She was trying to teach him something important.
2.) Grace – It could be that during your trial, when you think God is silent, He is actually dispensing His grace to you. He is giving you grace to get through it. He’s hoping that when you have victory over your situation at last, you’ll look back and say, “Wow, the only way I got through this is because God sustained me.” Sometimes God might seem distant because He is trying to get you to depend upon His grace and trust Him.
3.) Glory – God is getting ready to display His glory in a mighty way. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He said to His disciples, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). When He finally arrived in Judea, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Lazarus’ sister Martha said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” The Lord said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). Later when Martha expressed doubt, Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” Then He called for the stone to be rolled away from the tomb and called Lazarus by name. The dead man was raised to life. His sisters’ sorrow turned into joy. In the trial, they grew in their faith, received grace, and witnessed the glory of God. In our own trials, may we patiently wait on the Lord!