7 min 4 weeks

5.3 Where is God?

Read Psalm 42:2–4; 63:2; 69:2–4, and 102:2–8. What causes great distress to the psalmist?
The quoted verses from Psalm 42:2–4, 63:2, 69:2–4, and 102:2–8 convey the psalmist’s deep sense of suffering intensified by the apparent absence of God. Here are key aspects and what causes great distress to the psalmist:
Psalm 42:2–4:
  • The psalmist describes their thirst for God, likened to intense thirst in a dry land.
  • The longing for God’s presence is compared to living water, and God’s absence is felt as painful.
Psalm 63:2:
  • The psalmist expresses their yearning for God in the wilderness, where water is essential for life. God’s absence is experienced as thirst in a dry and parched land.
Psalm 69:2–4:
  • The psalmist feels estranged from God, describing their situation as feeling swallowed by mighty waters and sinking in deep mud.
  • The psalmist’s distress is so overwhelming that without divine intervention, there is no hope of deliverance.
Psalm 102:2–8:
  • The psalmist describes their deep fear of death and loneliness.
  • The mention of birds like the owl and the little owl emphasizes the feeling of isolation and solitude. The psalmist compares themselves to a bird lonely on the roof, outside its secure nest.
General Suffering:
  • It is emphasized that it’s not only the personal suffering of the psalmist that troubles them, but also the apparent absence of God.
  • Metaphors of thirst, water, and birds underscore the urgent need for God’s presence and reveal the depth of the psalmist’s soulful distress.
Feeling of Isolation:
  • The desert, the bird on the roof, and the use of images like swallowing waters and deep mud emphasize the hopelessness and loneliness of the psalmist.
  • The absence of God is felt as particularly painful, as the psalmist feels removed from their place of rest, security, and protection.
Overall, these Psalms express deep suffering caused by the apparent distance from God. The psalmist experiences not only personal difficulties but also the painful feeling of estrangement from God, intensifying the suffering. These Psalms reflect the human experience of longing for God’s presence and the profound distress arising from its apparent absence.
Read Psalm 10:12; 22:2; 27:9, and 39:13. How does the psalmist react to the apparent absence of God?
The quoted verses from Psalm 10:12; 22:2; 27:9, and 39:13 provide insight into the psalmist’s reaction to the apparent absence of God. Here are some key aspects:
Psalm 10:12:
  • The psalmist prays and calls upon God despite the apparent absence.
  • They acknowledge that God will not remain silent forever and trust that God’s justice and mercy will ultimately prevail.
Psalm 22:2:
  • The psalmist begins with the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
  • Although the Psalm starts with a cry of abandonment, it evolves into an expression of trust in God’s redemption and faithfulness.
Psalm 27:9:
  • The psalmist asks God not to hide His face and turn not in anger.
  • Despite the apparent absence of God, the psalmist encourages themselves to wait on the Lord and be of good courage.
Psalm 39:13:
  • The psalmist prays to God, asking Him to take notice of their prayers.
  • While aware of life’s transience, the psalmist continues to place trust in God and seeks ongoing communication.
Confession, Humility, and Confidence:
  • The psalmists choose not to remain silent but to turn to God, even when His response is not immediately evident.
  • Prayer is seen as a means to connect with the living and merciful God, even in His apparent silence.
Continuous Communication with God:
  • The psalmists recognize that prayer and communication with God are crucial in all life circumstances, even when God seems temporarily silent.
  • The Psalms show that the relationship with God must be maintained despite challenges and apparent absence.
Overall, these Psalms reflect the tension between sensing God’s absence and maintaining firm belief that God will eventually respond. The psalmists demonstrate an act of trust by persistently praying, examining themselves, and seeking God with confession and humility.
What can we learn from the psalmist’s reactions to the apparent absence of God? How do you respond during times when God seems silent? What keeps your faith alive?
The psalmist’s reactions to the apparent absence of God offer valuable lessons for our own spiritual lives, especially in times of silence or difficulty. Here are some teachings we can draw from the psalmist’s reactions:
  1. Continuation of Prayer:
    • Despite God’s apparent absence, the psalmist remains committed to prayer. We can learn that prayer is a vital expression of our relationship with God, even when immediate answers are not received.
  2. Expression of Emotions:
    • The Psalms teach us that it’s okay to express our feelings, including frustration, uncertainty, and abandonment, before God. Honestly sharing our emotions can lead to a deeper understanding and connection with God.
  3. Confession and Humility:
    • The psalmist confesses their dependence on God and seeks His help. In times of apparent absence, we can learn to remain humble and acknowledge our need for God’s guidance and intervention.
  4. Trust in God’s Character:
    • Even when God seems silent, the psalmist emphasizes God’s justice, mercy, and love. We can learn to maintain our trust in God’s character, even when we don’t fully understand the reasons for His actions.
  5. Remembrance of God’s Faithfulness in the Past:
    • The psalmists often recall God’s actions in the past. We can learn that reflecting on God’s faithfulness in previous experiences can help us endure in faith, even when the present is challenging.
  6. Faith Amidst Uncertainty:
    • The psalmist chooses faith despite uncertainty. In times of God’s seeming silence, we can learn to actively nurture our faith and hold onto the truth that God is still sovereign and present.
Personal Response:
  • During times of God’s apparent silence, it’s crucial to communicate honestly and sincerely with God. Prayer, meditation on Scripture, and actively nurturing our relationship with God are essential.
  • Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past and trusting in His character help keep faith alive.
  • Community with other believers can be supportive during such times, providing opportunities for collective prayer and spiritual strengthening.
In summary, the psalmist’s reactions teach us that our relationship with God remains paramount in both good and challenging times. It’s essential to express our emotions and thoughts before God, maintain faith through prayer, and trust that God is still present even in moments of apparent silence.

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