Imagine with me for a moment this modern news report taking over your local and national channels suddenly and simultaneously.
This just in: Reports from across the globe are coming in by the thousands of God finally showing Himself and answering all of our prayers simultaneously. Governments are scrambling to figure out if this is an actual supernatural event or a mass hoax, but it would appear from the sheer volume of reports coming in that there is now significant evidence for the existence of God.
Wow…that would be pretty cool wouldn’t it? There would therefore be no room for doubt in our minds about the existence of the Creator. People would be flocking by the millions to churches and cathedrals worldwide. Every nation would open its borders to Christianity out of sheer fear if nothing else. There would no longer be room for debate, for we would now have confirmation of the existence of our Savior. The world would be perfect finally…right?
I have recently talked with several people concerning Christianity and the existence of God and they have all said kinda the same thing: “Why doesn’t God just show Himself to the world ?”
Now they didn’t say these words exactly. They have said more specific things like, “Why doesn’t God answer prayer when I need Him to?”; “Why would such a ‘loving God’ condemn people to hell without even showing Himself to them first?”; “If God is so wise and powerful, why didn’t He wait to come as Jesus until this age – the age of YouTube and Twitter – instead of coming 2000 years ago in the age of scrolls?”; and similar questions.
Of course, I am no psychologist – far from it actually, I only have a Chemistry degree. But from where I stand, all these questions and complaints can be melted down into a singular frustration that drives people away from this “Theoretical God” of Christianity: the question mentioned two paragraphs above – basically a disappointment in the lack of God’s presence when we feel He is needed most.
Let me point out from the start, that I am not God (uh…duh) nor could I ever think myself even slightly worthy of speaking on His behalf. However, I do sense a lot of pain in today’s world – many unanswered questions and doubting minds – and for this reason, I am putting this blog series out on the internet for you to come across and hopefully gain something from.
So to the agnostic who logically proves that God cannot exist because He does not show Himself; to the skeptic who says that if God does exist, He can’t be so great, because He never intervenes in the world; to the hurting family who is doubting God’s existence because if He does exist, He has let them suffer far more than they deserve; and to the Christian who is struggling with her belief in a truly Sovereign and Loving God – this is for you.
In Côte d’Ivoire, so far, I have had some much needed downtime to reflect on God, read some theology, and get into the Word in between culture training, trips around the country, and French lessons (yeah, there isn’t much sleeping going on here). So I have tried to attack this question in blog form. Which isn’t very thorough of me, but it is the only medium I have right now, so I will use what God has given me.
Alas, I thought I would start with the heart of the matter – personal pain. So I started with the infamous book of Job in the Bible. This is a book of extreme suffering and anguish. Honestly, you have probably never had it worse than Job had it – if anyone deserved to hear from God, it was Job. Boiling down the first 36 chapters of this book, we have God giving Satan permission to attack Job through his family. First Job loses his family, his servants, his crops, and his animals. Then he is stricken with boils on his skin. His wife (who did live) tells him to curse God. Three of his close friends tell him that he must have seriously wronged God and that He must deserve what is happening to Him. Yet in all of this, Job “did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing”. Instead, he curses the day he was born, asks God to clear his name, and demands an answer for why these things have happened to him.
Job’s misery is quite a mystery, and I feel like if we can find God’s reason for letting Job down, then we might be able to solve the issue behind our own individual miseries. So let’s look at God’s response to Job.
God finally responds in the very last chapters of Job. I’ll sum it up for you. God basically says, “Who are you, man – my creation – to demand answers of Me – God who created all and knows all?”
Wait…WHAT??? Dude, God. I don’t know if you noticed, but Job here is basically wishing death upon himself because he is so miserable. His friends are criticizing him and his wife told him to curse You and die. Am I missing something? You have been silent this whole time, and when You finally speak, it’s…this? Couldn’t You maybe…pick Job up and give the poor guy a hug?
*sigh* I mean, okay. I get it. You are God after all and honestly, it isn’t our place to question why You run things the way you do. Job understood and immediately repented and was rewarded twice over. And I feel that if I had been in Job’s place, I would have been so scared, I may not have even been able to think enough to repent. So I can see why You answered the way You did.
Put yourself in Job’s shoes. You’ve had all this stuff happen to you and you tell God that He needs to come down to earth and explain why it happened. Then a storm starts rolling in and out of the storm, God speaks directly to you and puts you in your place. Think objectively on that. If God did that to me, I would simply be grateful for His presence.
But in the today’s world, we don’t even get God’s presence. Why doesn’t He appear to us and explain things like He did to Job? Like He did for Israel back in the Old Testament? He could at least give us AN answer, even if it isn’t exactly the one we want. We cry out today, “Please just show us You’re there. Then we’ll believe in Your existence and have to repent.”
Unfortunately, the pattern of the Old Testament doesn’t bode well for direct communication with God. If read in chronological order, the Old Testament would reveal a pattern of God’s obvious presence slowly deteriorating. For in the beginning, God is walking side-by-side with man; but as the Old Testament comes to a close, we find Him barely whispering to Elijah. In fact, even God’s chosen few, the Prophets, are found to be questioning God’s absence and begging for Him to reveal Himself as He did in the days of Abraham and Moses.
So the question then becomes, “Why does God choose to withdraw Himself from the world and be so silent?”
Are you following me so far, guys? Does this sound at all like you? It sounds a lot like me sometimes. Do you have frustrations you would like to add to the list? Questions or disagreements? Go ahead and make them known one way or another.
Because I have so much to say on this matter, I am going to split this blog up into 4 separate posts so that the reading isn’t overwhelmingly long. I want to put my point across effectively, so I will only give it out in bite-sized pieces for you to chew on one at a time. The second part to this “series” will be posted in a day or two (assuming I have adequate access to Internet here in Africa).
In the meantime, have a blessed day.