Saturday, June 18, 2016

Where are you, God?

Where is God ?
When the darkness ‘round me closes in,
When fear and anxiety drum my heart’s din,
When all goodness is squeezed from my life,
When pain and suffering slash like a knife,
I fall,
I fail,
I call out in vain….
My tears drop like the rain…
Oh God, were can you be?
The answer is soft,
“I’m too close to see!”
                         julie klassen,2016

I was thinking about how  far away God seems at the darkest times in our life. When we need Him the most, we grope in vain to find Him. 
Through my mind paraded bible heroes of  faith, and I realized how they too went through 'dark' times when God seemed to be far away.  Yet, in hindsight,  we know their stories from God's perspective  and can easily see that God was the closest to them in the worst times. He was working out what was needful for His highest purpose in their lives. 

I thought of Joseph, suffering in prison for a crime he did not commit - then, when hope finally came, it was dashed for two more long years.  He was forgotten - no family, no friends - where was God?  He was preparing Joseph for the 'moment' when he would step into the role of second-to-Pharaoh - ruler in the land. Through Joseph, God would save the people.  The telling of his story has captured the imagination of thousands of generations!    

I thought of Elijah, who stood alone against a wicked king and his even more evil queen who wrathfully threatened his life.  Elijah fled in fear ... where was God?  God was so close He was in the whisper. 

I thought of Naomi, who fled with her family to a foreign land, to escape the famine and then lost her husband as well as her two sons.  She returned home , empty and feeling forsaken by God, with a heathen daughter-in-law who insisted on going with her. Had He forsaken her?  Oh no, God was too close to see - He was walking alongside putting the details in place for Naomi to be blessed through her daughter-in-law, Ruth, to be the grandmother of King David and in the genealogy of Jesus. 

I thought of David whose psalms express his heart's cries when he felt abandoned, unable to find God.  Yet, we know, God was close ... looking upon David as a 'man after His own heart' - a king who pre-figured the coming King of kings, Jesus! 

I thought of Job, who cried out for God and wished for death, unable to bear the darkness of his lonely pain and suffering.  Where was God? Close ... very close.. about to speak to Job in audible voice. God knew this short time of testing in Job's life would be written about and be God-glorifying for millennia to come.

I thought of Esther, who faced a life and death situation - in her words, "If I perish, I perish."   Where was God?   Hovering very close, about to use Esther "for that moment of purpose" where she would save her people. 

I thought of Abraham, climbing the mountain with his beloved son, ready to sacrifice him according to God's command.   Where was God?  Oh, so very close - about to provide in  prophetic picture the supreme sacrifice He would make in the death of His own Son. 

I thought of Jesus Himself , at the moment of His full humanity, when He cried out .. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?"    Where was God?   Oh...   so very close !  His love, through His Son, reaching out to save the whole world. 

God recorded these stories of bible characters for us, so that we can be encouraged and strengthened - so that we can be inspired to deepen our faith, having the assurance that even as God did not abandon them, neither will He abandon us in our time of need but will draw  near to us...  so near that He is too close for us to see. 

Duet. 31:6 "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear, nor be afraid of them, for the Lord you God, He is the One, who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

Heb. 13:5b,6 "... For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you', so we may boldly say, ' The Lord is my helper, I will not fear, what can man do to me?' "

Malachi 3:6 .. "For I am the Lord, I do not change!" 

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Righteous Judge

There is a story in the news concerning a California court case in which, Judge Aaron Persky, handed down a very light sentence, outside of even the minimum sentence guidelines.  The accused rapist was given a mere six months instead of an expected sentence of four years.  The outcry was swift and angry calling for the recall of a judge that ruled unjustly with a bias of leniency for crimes against women.
Perhaps the judge himself was guilty of a promiscuous youth, perhaps he had no sisters or daughters, perhaps he grew up without a mother.  I tried to find some personal information about the man Aaron Persky but could not find anything. I did find an article written by someone  who also came up google-empty on Aaron Persky, a father of ten daughters who asked the question, "Judge Persky, do you have any daughters?"

We feel a deep sense of injustice when the innocent are not protected nor  the guilty punished.
We sit in the courtroom and are quick to judge those who pass sentence without any empathy or identification with the victim or pass a sentence that does not reflect the seriousness of the crime committed.

I was reading a passage in John 5 yesterday and verse 22 jumped out at me.
"For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son."
While the verse was a familiar one to me - it suddenly took on a deepened clarity of insight.

Why does the Father judge no one,  but give all judgement to Jesus?

We know that God is righteous and all He does is in perfect righteousness.

"The Lord is righteous in all His ways...." Ps. 145:17
"But the Lord shall endure forever. He has prepared His throne for judgment. He shall judge the world in righteousness and He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness." Ps. 8:7,8

God prepared His judgment throne, and then called Jesus to preside over the courtroom - because God the Father's righteousness could not do otherwise.

Jesus, because He walked in our flesh, because He identified with our humanity and our weaknesses, because He Himself experienced what we experience -  is a Judge that cannot be faulted.  No one standing before Jesus and receiving his sentence OR his reward will be able to find one word of rebuttal.

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." II Cor. 5:10

As believers, what a comfort it is to know that the One before we shall stand knows and understands us intimately and when His eyes meet ours, they will be full of love!