Summary: An exploration of the reasons why God seems hidden when we go through adversity and how we can build our trust in him despite it all.
There are three ancient questions that are as current as this morning’s news. I call them the “Three Questions No One Asks Out Loud.”
1. Is God unfair?
2. Is God silent?
3. Is God hidden?
Plunging into these questions is not simply an intellectual exercise. They are vital issues in every person’s relationship with God. Every day someone somewhere wrestles with these concerns. Inadequate answers have caused more than a few to give up on trusting God. Weak solutions have also kept others from actually beginning to believe.
After all, how can anyone trust God if he is unfair? No one could but God is good while life in this sinful world is often cruel and unfair. Everyone can trust God because the Cross demolished for all time the idea that God would make LIFE fair for us. The Empty Tomb proves that God take our worst pain and make it into a MIRACLE. All that is unfair will be corrected some day.
Could we honestly trust God if he remained totally silent when we suffer? Of course not. He doesn’t ask us to trust Him like that either. JESUS cried out “My God, why have you forsaken me?” on the Cross. So we know that God understands the pain of our QUESTIONS when they seem to go unanswered. The Empty Tomb proves that our suffering is TEMPORARY. One day the pain will end for those who are committed followers of Jesus.
Key Question: In that case, why do we feel so LONELY when we are hurting? Is God hidden from us when we are going through adversity? That seemed to be one of Job’s biggest complaints. He could not sense God’s PRESENCE. The God with whom Job had spent so much time in prayer could not be found.
REMEMBER JOB’S STORY WITH ME.
He had a flawless relationship with God. He had a great family. He was a very rich man. He cared about his children and their spiritual lives. He lost it all in one day, but at least he still had his health. In spite of all his pain, Job worshipped God. Then he lost his health and his wife told him to curse God and die. Job still trusted God. Then, three “friends” came to comfort Job and accused him of committing a terrible sin. They all agreed. God always punishes sin with terrible troubles and since Job was going through horrible times God was punishing him. But Job kept on insisting he was innocent. Listen to one of his prayers that cries out for God.
"Only grant me these two things, O God, and then I will not hide from you: Withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors. Then summon me and I will answer, or let me speak, and you reply. How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin. Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” (Job 13:20-24)
That feeling of loneliness and separation from God was described well by C. S. Lewis, who wrote these words in the midst of deep grief after his wife’s death from cancer:
Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him . . . you will be — or so it feels — welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.
WE NEED TO TAKE IN THE BIG PICTURE.
1. When we read Job’s story we realize there is MORE going on than meets the eye.
Satan accused Job of loving God only because of God’s generosity and protection. God allowed Satan to test Job’s faith by taking his possessions and health (Job 1 & 2). There is more going on than meets the eye. The Bible makes that clear in other places too.
The prophet Daniel prayed and fasted for three weeks in order to receive God’s answer to his prayer. When the angel delivered it, he told Daniel that God had sent the answer as soon as Daniel prayed. However, the angel had encountered a spiritual battle while trying to get to Daniel (Daniel 10). There is more going on than meets the eye.
In his second letter to the Corinthian church Paul described his trouble – physical illness, imprisonment, beatings, attempts on his life and so on – as ”light and momentary” because he focused on the unseen spiritual rewards God has promised rather than on the pain that can be seen.