There are those days when God seems so far away. The distance appears to be insurmountable and the evidence is clear in our hearts, though our minds disagree, that God might not care. We shudder to say such words. We desperately want them to not be true. We need them to not be true. Facebook spirituality posts that God cares. Instagram is filled with nice pastoral pictures and quotes of how much God cares. The preacher talks of God’s love.
How did we get here? How did we get to the place of thinking God doesn’t care? How did the distance between us become so great?
There are two obvious things that can cause a feeling of distance.
No Relationship – How could you be close to someone with whom you have no relationship. Many people think they know God but do not. If a random child asks me for something versus my child asking me for something, my responses will likely be different because of the relationship. I do not always give my child what he wants, but the relationship can make a difference.
Sin – Every wrong choice adds more height to the wall that separates. The unrelated child that acts poorly really has no chance of getting a positive response from me. If my child acts poorly, then a response is coming but not always a pleasant one. Sin causes friction in a relationship. Just because I discipline my children does not negate the relationship. On the contrary, I discipline because I care for them and do not want them to continue down a wrong path.
In John 11, we find a display of Jesus that is hard for us to imagine. If He had the power to save a life, why not do it right away? Instead, He waited 2 days. Imagine how the sisters felt. Their brother has died and Jesus is not even there. In fact, he had been dead 4 days before He arrives on the scene. Mary and Martha are both upset. Why? The possibilities for them are the same for us.
Manipulating God – We find distance when we try to coerce God into doing something. We use Bible terms like “God is Healer” or “The Great Physician” to demand of God that he brings a person back to a state of health we want. We use Bible terms like “Cattle on a 1000 hills” to demand of God he provide in a financial way, even if the problem is our poor money habits. We might even pull Hebrew on God like “Jehovah Jireh”, which means the one who provides, to try to manipulate God with scripture.
Pre-Conceived Ideas – The classic reason we find distance between us and God and entertain the notion He does not really care is that God did not answer in the way we wanted. While this is closely related to manipulation, it is different in that we already have the answer we want and are waiting for God to do it that way. Mary and Martha faced this issue. They were ticked because Jesus did not arrive when beckoned. They had a preconceived idea of what would happen. When that did not go the way they planned, they were frustrated. Been there?
Short-Sighted Plans – Jesus knew exactly what was needed, though the sisters and His disciples could not. The 12 could only see the dangers, while Jesus saw the blessings. The sisters could only see the death and burial, while Jesus could see the raising of the dead. God has a perfect plan that is always in play. When we try to change, adjust, manipulate, or manage a different plan we are going to become frustrated. The only plan that brings peace is the one that God is putting into place. When we come to terms with our short-sighted ability and accept God’s plan we will find peace once again.
God Does Care
When we are in crisis it is hard to see the bigger picture, but God already has a plan. When a tragedy strikes, it is hard to see the good, but God already has a plan. For those who have a developing relationship with God, things work out in the way they should. Looking back on life, I find nuggets of gold in emotional spots I never thought possible at the time. I find stashes of strength and courage because of my past that helps me now, though I did not see it then. God does care if you take the time to trust and obey His Word and plan.