“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…. My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?'” – Psalm 42:2-3 (NIV)
Have you ever felt like asking, “Where is my God?” Even those of us who have experienced great joy and delight in the presence of God will sometimes go through dark nights when God seems distant, or even absent altogether.
It sometimes feels like God disappears just when we need him the most, when we are at our weakest and most needy. How do we reconcile this with the concept of a loving, caring Father in heaven? Isn’t it bad enough that our earthly fathers so often abandon us? Why should we feel abandoned by God as well?
Faith, of course, argues in the face of this feeling. God is always close, always caring, even and especially when we are incapable, because of our fear or grief, of feeling his comfort.
Though there are times when pain seems to override any inkling of his presence, God is still there. When circumstances continue to press us down, God holds us up, however crushed we might feel. When the night is at its blackest, God sends us the ancient light of faraway stars to cheer us and to give us hope.
Indeed, there is a world of breathtaking beauty that can only be experienced in the darkest night. The darker, the better, in fact. We don’t often think that those same stars are always out there. They shine and twinkle all through the daytime, too, but we can’t see them then. It is only in the night that their beauty becomes apparent. If the sun always shone, we would never know how awe-inspiring the night sky could be.
And just as the awesome glory of the night sky is hidden in the sunshine, so God reserves the most powerful expression of his strength for the times of our greatest weakness. Christ himself says of us, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). For it is when we are at our lowest that he gives us the grace to keep going. Though all we might feel is our own weakness, it is by his strength that we are able to continue.
So if, in the dark night of your soul, you feel like God has retreated, look up! God is light, and in the night sky there is hope. Though our sun might disappear for a time, God sends us the consolation of billions of suns, as out of reach but intensely burning reminders that the earth will turn toward brightness once again.
“Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.” – Psalm 42:11 (NIV)
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