“O Lord, why do you stand so far away?
Why do you hide when I am in trouble?”
(Psalm 10:1, NLT)
Does God move?
In my Christian discipleship, I had been taught that our holy God cannot be in the presence of sin. For a long time I accepted that idea as fact. I’m sure there were proof texts given to me then that seemed to support it. So, I believed it. But, I wonder, if God is in a place and sin shows up, does He move?
I had never really thought too much about it over the years, because according to my faith tradition, Christ paid the penalty for my sin and therefore I, made clean by Christ’s sacrifice, can enter God’s presence. I just had to make sure I confessed my sins in my prayers.
I was also taught that God turned His back on Jesus the day He hung on the cross. Because Jesus bore the sins of the world, and since our holy God cannot be in the presence of sin, He had to abandon His Son that day. So, I wonder, if God is in a place and sin shows up, does He turn His back?
In the struggles, trials, lows, and disappointments life often brings, I often wondered, why did the Lord seem so far away? Was He hiding when I was in trouble?
Recently, I read a book that, in one chapter, explored that very idea. In He Loves Me, Wayne Jacobsen, asks “Could the Faithful One be unfaithful to his Son at his darkest moment?”
He asks this because of the way Jesus’ cry on the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” has often been taught. That God indeed turned His back on His Son.
But, Jacobsen rejects the idea that God moved, that God turned His back. Instead, he says, “Of course not. Even when Jesus told his disciples that they would all leave him alone, he said he would not be alone for the Father was with him. I don’t believe for a minute that the Father forsook the Son. But there could be a vast difference here between what God did and what Jesus perceived. Jesus undoubtedly felt forsaken, but that doesn’t mean he actually was.”¹
He goes on to say “It is likely at the moment on the cross when God’s wrath was consuming the sin he had become, he couldn’t even see the Father with whom he had shared fellowship through all eternity. Sin blinded him, and he felt as if God had forsaken him.”
Might that also be true, to a lesser degree, of us? Remember, the Psalms are a cry of the heart. Might the Psalmist, in the midst of the trouble, only feel as if God was standing far away, that He had hidden Himself? Might we, also, in the midst of trouble, feel the same way? Our troubles blinding us and making us feel forsaken.
What a joy to know that our loving Father does neither. He does not leave us or forsake. Even when we feel that way, we can confidently say, as the Psalmist declared in the end, “Surely you will hear my cry and comfort my heart by helping me.”
Father, when the darkness closes in, may I still say, “blessed be Your name,” because you never leave me, never forsake me, never leave me in times of trouble.
grace & peace
¹Wayne Jacosen, He Loves Me, pg 126