This world is filled with pain, trials, great emotional pain, and suffering as a result of sin entering the world with Adam and Eve. In our darkest moments we cry out to God and, often, it seems like He isn’t there, like He is absent or silent. We know that He is always there, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Why is that?
Our culture is driven by the emotions of experience rather than the knowledge of the experience. In other words, how we feel determines what we believe regardless of the resulting detrimental effects. The emotional roller coaster of our lives can cause a false perception of what God should or shouldn’t do. Therefore, based on our emotion influence perceptions, God is consistently inconsistent in how He interacts with us. Additionally, since His interaction may never appear the same when speaking to us individually we run the risk of not only misunderstanding the relationship with God but may miss it entirely.
As Derek Flood notes,
“I cry to you God but you do not answer. I stand before you, and you don’t even bother to look” screams Job in desperation. Clever intellectual answers won’t cut it here. The answer we seek in our pain is not so much one of explanation but of relief. When we cry “Why!” what we mean is “Make it stop.”
We see examples of God’s apparent silence in the biblical accounts of Job, Esther, and Jesus Himself, to name a few. Through these we can see that God’s silence is not unusual.
We are people of systems who like systems and plans and charts and tables, etc. We consistently look for ways to duplicate results we have experienced by continuing to proceed in specific ways in an effort to reproduce past results or massaging the process so the same outcome can be achieved.
It is, therefore, no wonder that after a person has had a ‘mountaintop’ experience with God that they would wish to duplicate these results. The result, and it is lamentable, is that because of this we end up approaching God like a lucky rabbit’s foot. At various times, because of our desire to re-experience something that we should realize is unrepeatable, we will attempt to duplicate previous results by doing things the way we did them in the past and hoping that God shows up in the same manner as He did before. Then, when God doesn’t show up, especially if we have done nothing to grow in our faith, we tend to question either the manner we approach God or, more tragically, what we believe. Surely, part of this learned behavior is found in our culture as we have become so addicted to experience that we need to have experiences at all times and if we don’t we question our actions and beliefs.
Interestingly, a potential solution can be found in the lives of the ancient Israelites, specifically in the book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy has a consistent theme of remembering and this should be the springboard to our own belief. The contents of this book seem to be predisposed to remembrance rather than new experience. Here are some of the themes that are found: remembering Israel’s wandering (Deuteronomy 2:1-25), remembering God through obedience (Deuteronomy 6:10-25), Remembering what God has done (Deuteronomy 6:20-25), remembering God’s provisions (Deuteronomy 8:1-9), Remembering what God has done pt 2 (Deuteronomy 8:1-20), and remembering the source of blessings (Deuteronomy 8:10-20). It seems that they are told to remember so that they don’t forget that God has acted and although He may not be overtly acting now He will continue to act.
Read Part Two next week.
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