This is going to sound weird but when we first went to language school in Albertville, France many years ago, I was confused. I couldn’t figure out which direction God was when I prayed.
I never really thought of it before but when I prayed back in the good old USA, I just had the sense that God was there. I couldn’t have pointed to the direction but my heart knew where He was.
In those majestic mountains of France, I couldn’t get oriente, though. That might have been because we lived on the side of a mountain.
My experience seemed out of whack because when you leave all to follow Christ you’re supposed to have a joyful sense of God’s presence 24/24. A free pass into His presence.
Right? Well, I didn’t.
Change Can Disorient Us
I know now that a lot of it had to do with changes that were going on in my life. Tough challenges faced Phyllis and me and our three small children. Spiritual changes, physical changes, psychological changes, ‘positional’ changes.
They taught us about culture shock in missions school but mine was more of a “positional shock.” My superstructure had been dismantled. Family left behind. Hobbies. Church. Au revoir.
From an important leader in the church I pastored, I had sunk to trying to formulate sentences in French that a kindergartener could say. “Où sont les toilettes?” for example.
So, when I prayed, this strange question haunted me: “Where is God?”
I am glad to report that I found him, or maybe he found me. But you know what? Sometimes I still feel like God is lost. Or more likely I am lost. Where can I find him at times like this because I sure need Him?
Others Lost, Too
Can you believe it? I’m not the only one who has ever had this problem.
“Their taunts pierce me like a fatal wound; again and again they scoff, “Where is that God of yours?” (Psalm 42:10, Living Bible) And the man after God’s own heart cries out, “O God, my God! How I search for you! How I thirst for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. How I long to find you!” (Psalms 63:1, LB)
Today some of you may feel like you don’t know where God is. I’ve got good news for you. He’s there with you. You may not sense His presence. You may not see him. But he’s not leaving you. He loves you too much. He is working for you. He is your Father, and you’re his incredibly loved child.
You say, “David, I’ve screwed up. I’ve sinned.” Repent then. God will hear your prayer (1 John 1:9). Often sin isn’t the problem, though. Life is.
We all have times when our emotions either don’t work or they betray us and join our enemies.
What God Has To Say About It
Is God still there? Before you consult your feelings, consult something much more reliable—God’s Word.
–He promised to be with us in the Covid-19 epidemic, even when we can’t get to the hairdresser. “I will be your God through all your lifetime, yes, even when your hair is white …” (Isa. 46:4 LB) (Sorry, I’ll get serious again).
–“For God has said, ‘I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.’ That is why we can say without any doubt or fear, “’The Lord is my Helper, and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me.’” (Heb. 13:5, 6 NIV)
–God revealed Himself to Ezekiel and His people by the name, “Jehovah Shammah,” the Lord is there. (Ezekiel 48:35) He’s not the “way off God.” He’s the God who never leaves the side of His people.
–“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20, NLT)
When we hang onto to the truth of Jesus’ presence in tough times we get reoriented. We know “where” to pray. If you feel like you’re spinning round and round inside, give it a try. Cry out to Him, expecting Him to hear you.
“In short, God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knew.” Tim Keller
Life is short … pray hard!