Where Is God?

Have you ever wondered, “Where is God right now when I need Him?”

Perhaps you:

  • Lost a job.
  • Had a child who died or developed a chronic illness.
  • Had your marriage end in divorce after your spouse had an affair.
  • Have an addiction, and you can’t break it.
  • Pray and do everything you’re supposed to do as a Christian, and it still seems God is a thousand miles away.

 

I could keep going. Some of us have gone from feeling that God is close to us and answers all our prayers, to one where it seems the door has been shut in our face, and we’re left standing outside asking, “Where is God?”

 

No Easy Path

After a conversion experience in high school, I had a remarkable period of peace and discovery as I grew in my relationship with Christ and the Church.

 

But as time went on, I ran into some tough situations that didn’t come equipped with quick and miraculous solutions. I struggled, mostly because I had a lot of growing to do, and God used these occasions to help me stretch. When I finished college, I still had a sense that God was near, and that I was growing spiritually.

 

A couple of years later, however, I hit a spiritual dry spell that lasted nearly twelve years. Most people who talk about their desert experiences speak or them in terms of weeks. I guess I was an especially tough case.

 

When I emerged from that spiritual wasteland, the Lord gave me a sense of His continual presence that has never left me. I was stronger and eager to serve. I thought I was finally starting to “arrive.” Not really.

 

The following years included some particularly difficult times of trial and suffering. Fortunately, as some people do, I was never tempted to turn my back on God. But the Lord took down the protecting hedge that had kept Satan from pressing attacks.

 

A God That’s Too Small

I learned a lot of lessons along the way—far too many to talk about here. But I would like to touch on three of them.

 

First, I started with a concept of God that was way too small. At different times, I thought of God as operating on a simple reward-and-punishment system; or as though he behaved like a vending machine where I could drop my prayer in and the expected answer would fall out. Fortunately, God is much bigger than those false gods, but when my expectations were screwed up, it made it seem as though God was not doing his part.

 

Second, there were all the times I prayed, went to retreats, attended Mass, read the Bible, etc.—all things that in the past helped me get in touch with God and feel close to Him. But now, none of these approaches seemed to work the same way. Unconsciously, I was expecting a static God who would work around my ego needs. Instead, I learned that while God remains the same, the way He relates to me is dynamic and changes over time so that I could grow and live by faith instead of using God as a way to me feel good.

 

Third, with all the difficulties and resistance I experienced, surely God could have made things easier for me, right? Yes, but instead, I learned that for those He loves, He allows the crucible of suffering to burn away the dross surrounding our hearts so that we could become more like his Son.

 

A Few Answers

 So, where is God?

He’s with us right now, and He never leaves us. So, if we don’t feel or see Him, there must be another explanation. I think that when we first come into a relationship with Jesus, the Lord grants us the grace of a “honeymoon” period, where we receive blessings, answered prayer, and other powerful experiences that help to sustain us. But there comes a time we need to move out of the nest, and He pulls back so we can grow in faith.

 

What is God doing?

Much of the time we don’t know what He’s doing unless he shows us. He is the infinite God, after all. We may be able to look back over time and understand His methods, or we may never know. As it turns out, providing magical protection from the evils of this world is not part of His plan. If we’re ready, he’ll continue to challenge us to push up against our comfort zone and boundaries.

 

Isn’t God taking quite a risk on us?

That is, isn’t making us go through spiritual deserts, persecution, and all sorts of trouble in life putting us at risk of calling it quits and walking away from Him? Once we came to place our faith in Him, shouldn’t that be enough until it’s time for Him to take us to heaven?

 

That would be true, except that a relationship with God is more than making a decision for Christ. It’s also about God loving us with the passionate love of the Father. He desires for us to share in His divine life and to become like His Son. He won’t let us stay little kids spiritually if we show any sign that we’re ready to grow up. We may not like the path we have to walk to get there, but every day, I’m learning more about how to appreciate the result.

 

 

For A Season

Four years past, I planted two peach trees in my yard.

The fruit they bore their second year gave promise of future reward.

But an early frost, followed by a harsh winter,

produced trees green and growing without blossoms or fruit to gather.

 

What should I now do with these stubborn saplings?

Complain to the Grower of my discontent or rail against the hostile weather?

Transplant my trees to more favorable ground,

or cut them down and be rid of them altogether?

 

No fault of Grower do I here find,

nor will next door the Sun brighter shine.

Although weather changes from year to year, trees’ potential stays the same.

I’ll not fret over what I can’t control, nor look somewhere else to place the blame.

 

I’ll tend the trees — prune and fertilize.

In faith, I’ll love and care for them with hope to realize,

that after a season, they should bear a delightful treasure

which from my view today, remains hidden.

 

The Unwanted Gift

There once was a simple man,

Paid a visit by his King,

Who left him with a gift so strange;

A flute he must make to sing.

 

Though unfamiliar with instrument,

Untrained and lacking skill,

Soon tunes began to issue forth

To honor his Lord and liege’s will.

 

He left his home to share the gift,

Surely others would want to hear,

Tunes played from his master’s flute

He sought out all who came near.

 

First, he greeted a pastor,

a man who cared for souls.

Who laughed and said, “You’re nothing,”

then continued with his stroll.

 

Next, he met a shopkeeper, a woman

who spoke so authoritatively.

“I have more important things to do,” said she,

“then listen to the likes of thee.”

 

Then came some workers,

Who saw the chipped and worn flute,

Placing hands over ears, they laughed in scorn,

And hurled insults brute.

 

One passerby slowed a moment,

Then beheld the man’s plain state,

Decided he could not listen or attend,

It wasn’t worth his wait.

 

Now, the peasant, not knowing what to do,

Tried his music in the street.

But the noise and chaos of the crowd

Drowned out his tunes so pure and sweet.

 

At last, he settled atop a hill

A troubadour whose soul must sing,

Music of such uncommon beauty,

Offered to honor his Lord and King.

 

 

 

 

Resonating God’s Glory

Instruments make musical sounds due to a physical property called resonance. Every object seems to have a natural frequency at which it will vibrate. It could be a string on a violin, the chamber of a horn, a glass, or even a bar of metal. If the object receives sufficient stimulus at its resonant frequency, the waves of vibration synchronize and build up on one another, producing a beautiful musical sound.

 

I think people, indeed, all of creation, also display a kind of spiritual resonance that is produced when our actions and our whole being correspond to God’s will and design.

 

The Ten Commandments give us a glimpse of this design and act as a type of blueprint for behavior. Living according to God’s plan—to how we were made to live— leads us to satisfying relationships and happiness.

 

But even this Law, as good as it is, is still only a discrete list. It does not and cannot fully describe the glory that God desires. While practicing the Law as a set of rules produces good results, the product can become only a mechanical copy of the masterpiece God intends.

 

So instead of following the Law alone, which remains a worthy but incomplete guide, the Father gave us the perfect image of who we are meant to be in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. And through the Holy Spirit, we receive just the right stimulus to excite our souls and allow us to resonate God’s glory.