WHERE IS GOD?
A sermon preached at Elijah Ministries on 5th July 2009

 

 

 

We just sang the song:
As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after thee…

What a beautiful song. It was written in 1984 by a chap called Martin Nystrom, who has written a number of popular contemporary Worship songs…

 

This particular song is based on the first verse of Psalm 42… which is the Psalm we will be studying this morning, and which speaks of a deep yearning, a passionate longing for God – my soul longs after God…

 

But if we read the whole Psalm, we find that the Psalmist is actually in a state of desperation, a state of dire need, a state of depression, where he is crying out for help, on the verge of giving up, completely downcast and depressed… he actually asks “Where are you God?”

And that’s the title of today’s message…

 

Where is God?

 

Turn with me to Psalm 42 and lets read the whole Psalm. Keep a bookmark there because we’ll be returning there often.

 

Psalms 42  To the chief Musician, a Maskil, for the sons of Korah.

As the hart (or the deer) pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after thee, O God.  (2)  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?  (3)  My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is your God? 

(4)  When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, and led them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. 

(5)  Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

 (6)  O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. 

(7)  Deep calls unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. 

(8)  Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. 

(9)  I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 

(10)  As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is your God? 

(11)  Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

 

 

 

It’s an interesting Psalm, with questions posed and answers given. But before we go any further, I just want to give you a little background into what the Psalms are – the Hebrew title for the book means Praises; The Greek translation means Songs. So the Psalms have become known as the Songs of Praise. But they aren’t really all songs of Praise…

 

The Psalms are actually different kinds of songs - 

some praise God for his faithfulness and power,

some sing of God’s deliverance and acts on behalf of the people of God,

some give us hope and encouragement,

and some lament over tragedy or pain that they are experiencing in their lives.

 

Psalm 42 is one of those Psalms of lament.

Roughly half of the Psalms were written by King David, of whom the Lord himself said that he had a heart after His own.

 

Acts 13:22  " He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, 'I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.'

 

A man after the heart of God… WOW… that tells me we had better sit up and listen when he talks…

 

 

The title of Psalms 42 reads:  To the chief Musician, a Maskil, for the sons of Korah.

A Maskil, is a Psalm of instruction. And this one was written “for the sons of Korah.” Now we don’t know for sure whether David wrote Psalm 42, but it is likely that he was the author, for a number of reasons, one of them being that it was David who wrote the previous Psalm 41, and in verse 4 of Psalm 42 it talks of the author leading the congregation to the House of God – only a King or High Priest could do that.

The KJV says in verse 4: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, but it is widely accepted by scholars that a better translation is:  For I used to go along with the multitude and lead them in procession to the house of God. Only a King or High Priest could lead the congregation into the Temple.

 

 

It is therefore generally assumed to have been written by David when he was driven out of Jerusalem and beyond the Jordan, by his son Absalom’s rebellion. The story of which is told in 2 Samuel 15.

 

Several psalms in Book 2 of the Psalms have "the sons of Korah" at the top.

Now who was Korah? He was quite an interesting fellow…

Korah was the grandson of Kohath.

Kohath was the son of Levi.

Levi was one of the sons of Jacob.

As you all know, all the Jews that were God’s servants in the temple came from the family of Levi, including the High Priest and priests.

 

Korah himself was one of the very first Levites chosen for service in the Tabernacle. He was a popular leader and was very influential during the Exodus from Egypt. He was mentioned in Exodus chapter 6, as one of the Chief men of Israel. So he was an important man in Israel’s history.

 

But there was a big problem with Korah… Korah became jealous of Moses’ position and became puffed up as to his own importance – just like so many church leaders today, who started off so well, but ended up becoming snared by the cares of this world, mainly pride, power or the love of money.

 

So Korah, became proud – he dared to oppose Moses, and in so doing, rebelled against God. This truly fascinating story is told in the book of Numbers chapter 16. While Israel was camped in the wilderness of Paran, Korah led a group of 250 leaders of the congregation against Aaron’s claim to the Priesthood, and against Moses’ claim to lead Israel. As punishment for their rebellion, God caused the earth to open up and swallow the leaders and all their property, and a fire from the Lord came down and consumed the 250 leaders.

 

But if that wasn’t enough, the mind boggles how evil some people can be!? After seeing with their very eyes, the wrath of the Lord and His miraculous destruction, the very next day, the congregation of Israel continued to complain about Aaron and Moses. 

 

Keep your place in Psalm 42 and Turn with me to Numbers 16

 

 

Numbers 16:41  But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, "You are the ones who have caused the death of the LORD'S people." 

(42)  It came about, however, when the congregation had assembled against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tent of meeting, and behold, the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD appeared. 

(43)  Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting,  (44)  and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (45)  "Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in an instant." Then they fell on their faces.  (46)  Moses said to Aaron, "Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!"  (47)  Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. 

(48)  He took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked.

 (49)  But those who died by the plague were 14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah.  (50)  Then Aaron returned to Moses at the doorway of the tent of meeting, for the plague had been checked.

 

 

Aaron, the High Priest was an interesting symbolic type of Jesus. In this story, the plague was a Judgement from God, unto death. Verse 48 says that Aaron took his stand between the dead and the living, and made atonement for the people. And that’s exactly what Jesus does for us. Through our unbelief and sin, we deserve Judgement and death, but Jesus takes His stand between life and death, on the cross, and makes atonement for us, sparing our lives, sparing us the Judgement we so thoroughly deserve.

 

Isn’t that amazing… Thankyou Jesus!

 

So anyway, Korah and his supporters are wiped out. But some of the family members of Korah survived.  Go on a little to Numbers 26.

 

 

Numbers 26:

The sons of Eliab: Nemuel and Dathan and Abiram. These are the Dathan and Abiram who were called by the congregation, who contended against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the LORD,  (10)  and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up along with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, so that they became a warning.  (11)  The sons of Korah, however, did not die.

 

So we see that some of the sons of Korah survived, and Moses appointed these sons of Korah to be the Temple Choir, the Temple musicians, along with the sons of Asaph.

Hence, we see some Psalms, like Psalm 42, which have the sons of Korah in the title – these were either written by the sons of Korah, or for them.

 

 

The psalms are an amazing book…they have been called the mirror of our Christian souls. If you want to have a look inside your soul, look into the Psalms. They will speak about your soul.

 

Someone once said that Scripture in general speaks to us, but the Psalms, they  speak for us, or about us.

Scripture speaks TO us, but the Psalms speak FOR us.

 

They reflect our hearts rather than our minds. They communicate to us through imagery, just like poetry. The psalms are not stories, they are not straightforward teaching on doctrine that we might find in a letter of Paul, but they communicate with picturesque language, using metaphors, short phrases, and often much repetition.

 

The psalms are ultimately the hymn-book for the people of God that we can use to sing when we are joyous, or when we are in mourning, songs that we can pray at the different times of our lives. They give us better understanding of why we sometimes feel the way we do.

 

Psalm 42 is a psalm of lament, which is a heart-felt cry unto God, either through pain and suffering or hardship. But sometimes it is a cry for help during the depressing times when we feel God is absent.

 

 

Have you ever felt distant from God, distant from his loving kindness and care? Have you ever tortured yourself by asking: “Where are you God?”

 

If you are honest enough to admit it, we have all had these kind of thoughts at some time in our lives – when the Lord is asleep in our boat… but the problem is us - we of little faith – and like PJ says, I often feel like I have to ransack my boat just to find out if the Lord really is there…

even though we know that He is there, that He will never leave us nor forsake us, it sometimes doesn’t feel that way… who can relate to that?

 

But thanks be to God that he gives us not only psalms of praise, but also psalms of lament, like psalm 42, that express our anguish, our pain and our depression. Something that all true Christians can relate to and understand.

 

 

Go Back to Psalm 42:

Verse 1

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God..

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God: 

 

The first thing David communicates to us is that just as the thirsty deer comes to the flowing streams, so his soul thirsts after the living God.

The KJV says as the hart pants for the water. A hart is olde English for a Male Deer.

 

But the deer doesn’t think, it doesn’t use cognitive thought or rationalize and use sound reasoning as to why it needs water. Rather, it’s a God-given instinct for a deer to look for water when it becomes thirsty. In the same way, our Christian souls instinctively thirst for the living God, who alone can quench the thirst, the deep longing of our souls.

 

2- when shall I come and appear before God?

 

As we will see later on in this Psalm, the author was far from the Temple since they were far from Jerusalem. In the Old Testament days, God met with the people in the Temple. The author here was asking when he could next meet with God or appear before Him in the Temple. Because he was so far away from the Temple, and supposedly from the presence of God, he was pretty desperate. His soul longs for God.

 

And yet we, we are so much more fortunate than those who lived in Old Testament times…

 

It reminds me of the first conversation I ever had with my dear friend Antony Kritharis. It happened about 10 years ago here at Elijah – they were advertizing one of Jacob Prasch’s guided tours of Israel, and I said to Antony, who was standing next to me – wouldn’t it be amazing, such a wonderful experience to go to Israel and stand where Jesus once stood. And he looked at me and said, boet, you don’t have to go to Israel for that. Jesus is standing right here, inside you and me.

 

And that little pearl of wisdom is something that we Christians are all too quick to forget – the mystery of the living Christ within us, the hope of all glory.

 

The truth is that we don’t need a Temple, or a Tabernacle, or even a stream.

We have Rivers of Living Water deep inside us! We have a well of living water given to us from the Fountain head Himself.

Isn’t that such a blessing - The greatest blessing of a Christian’s life is that He has the living Christ inside of him!

 

 

Turn with me to John 4

 

John 4:7  There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink."  (8)  For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.  (9)  Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)  (10)  Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."  (11)  She said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?  (12)  "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?"  (13)  Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;  (14)  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."

 

 

Go on to John 7

John 7 Verse:38 Jesus speaking:  "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"

 

But what is this Living Water that Jesus speaks about…

 

Verse 39  By this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The greatest blessing of a Christian’s life is that He has the living Christ inside of him!

 

But even though we as Christians have the Spirit of Jesus Christ living inside us, it can still sometimes feel as if the Lord has forsaken us.

 

Sometimes things go so wrong, things become so tough, that we ask:

Is there any meaning to life,

Is there any hope in this life,

Is there any confidence to be had in a world that just doesn’t care?

 

We may even question: Lord God Where are you? Are you really there?

 

Have you ever experienced this frustration, this despondency, this loneliness? Where there is great pain and the absence of real joy, where the only comfort you have is your depression… and your problems just seem to pile up, surround you, preventing you from escape? When the only prayer you can seem to muster is: “Oh Lord, just take me home, I am so tired!”

 

Perhaps you have asked: “Is there any purpose or hope in the midst of my suffering, in my darkness, in my depression?”

Where your soul cries out and longs for the reassurance of the presence of God?

 

Because we are all made in the image of God, he is not only our source of life and being, but also our nourishment – He is the “bread” and “water” of our life and being. While material food and water feed the body, nothing can fulfil the soul’s desperate longing… nothing except our Great God and Creator.

 

 

Oh, but often we will try to substitute His provision with the provisions of our flesh – and this is most often when things go so awfully wrong.

The constant human desire for instant gratification; the constant lust to always want more… we’re never satisfied with what we’ve got – we always want more –

anyone been there?

But one thing is for sure, as the Proverbs teach us, the flesh can never be satisfied. Our flesh always desires more… and if that’s your goal in life, then the result will be death. Satisfying the flesh is no real satisfaction at all, no real contentment - just a replica, not only a substitution, but a true counterfeit of what is true satisfaction, true contentment and true peace.

 

So is there no hope? Is this life “under the sun” all that we have to satisfy the longings and cravings of our souls?

Absolutely NOT!

Nothing in this world can satisfy like the love and truth from God.

 

Back to Psalm 42

(3)  My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is your God? 

(5) Why are you in despair, O my soul?

(6)  O my God, my soul is cast down within me:

9 "Why have You forsaken me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?"

10  As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, While they say to me all day long, "Where is your God?"

 

 

The person who wrote this was in a pretty bad place – where it looks and feels as if they are carrying all the world's problems on their back. Completely emotionally battered. What we would term depressed.

 

In Verse 3 David reveals that tears have been his food day and night, he cannot stop crying. This was not a blue mood, nor a bout of sadness -  this was an emotional meltdown.

‘My tears have been my food' -  he had completely lost his appetite, he couldn’t eat, he was sustained by his tears.

 

And isn’t this true about depression… when you become depressed, your flesh takes control - your face is filled with sadness and is all sullen, you are tearful and cry excessively, you don’t want to see others, you have no appetite, you want to sleep but often cannot, you are so preoccupied with your own misery you struggle to think of anything else.

 

Outwardly, you present a picture of a person who is filled with darkness, doom and gloom. A person like this becomes antisocial and reclusive. When you speak to a depressed person, you soon get the sense that they really don’t care about anyone or anything; nothing much has importance to them anymore. They become consumed by their own self-pity. Because that’s all depression really is – it’s self-pity.

 

Why me Lord? Why me? Why is it that you withhold your favour from your servant?

 

Anyone been there?

 

And then just to make matters even worse, your enemies see you, they laugh at you and mock you, "Where is your God? Where is your God now?"

 

It is important to realize that your response to an incident or a set of circumstances in your life will determine whether you will suffer from depression or not. Every human will have times in their lives where they will be brought to the point of great frustration, sadness, pain and misery – your response to that sadness will determine whether you become clinically depressed or not.

 

It has been shown that periods of continued sadness can cause chemical imbalances in the brain, which can affect the body in various negative ways, thus perpetuating the feeling of sadness and futility.

 

The question is… when you become depressed, do you allow it to take hold of you and perpetuate your pain and misery? Or do you make the conscious decision like David did – as a Christian, you know the answer…

 

David asks in verse 5  Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?

 

And here is the right response, the correct biblical response – Immediately, he gives the answer…

 

Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.

 

And what happens in His presence?

 

Go back a little to Psalm 16

 

Psalm 16:11  You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is…

 

fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

 

The correct response to depression is…to put your Hope in God. Put your trust in Him, be patient and wait on Him, because He will show you the path of life, the path to fullness of joy, to pleasures forever.

 

 

But when you get depressed, do you, like I did for so many years of my life; live on Anti-depressants to take away the misery and pain?

 

But please don’t get me wrong here… I am not in any way referring to true mental health disorders here. Psychiatric disorders of Psychotic, Manic or Bipolar depression are diseases that need to be treated.

What I am referring to here is the tendency of so many GP’s or psychologists to prescribe Anti-depressants when people feel they aren’t coping too well with life.

 

It is estimated that some 100 million people in the world are on some form of Anti-depressant therapy, the Prozac and Zoloft Happy pill brigade. I was one of them. Predictions are that there will be a global epidemic of depression by the year 2020. With the continuing trend of the world racing towards a Godless society, isn’t it any wonder that joy will be so hard to find?

 

Personally, and please let me stress that this is my opinion, based on my own experience -  I don’t agree with anti-depressant therapy – because all it does is artificially elevate your mood… Happy pills…

they give you a false sense of well-being, of happiness,

they make you happy, when there is no real happiness…

they just mask the problem… they just hide the cause… 

they miraculously make your problems disappear.

 

And that’s the great danger for me.

When I was on anti-depressants, while my whole world was crashing down around me, anti-depressants helped me to sweep all my problems under the carpet, to just forget about them, without having to face them head on.

 

Anti-depressants stop you from taking responsibility for your own life, for your own actions. Anti-depressants stopped me from actually having to deal with the problems in my life, with the root cause of my despair. And without dealing with the root cause of your despair, you are on a slippery road to destruction.

 

Isn’t it sad that people nowdays put their faith in chemicals, rather than in the Almighty God, the ONE who is capable of helping them through it!

 

 

And very often, but not always, the root cause of despair and depression is a fractured relationship with the Lord. Just as David felt that the Lord was far from him, this disturbed relationship resulted in the loss of his joy, the loss of true peace and contentment – instead it was replaced with sadness, mourning, oppression and depression.

 

Sin will certainly lead to guilt and depression, and sinful handling of sin further complicates matters leading to even greater guilt and deeper depression. It becomes a vicious circle. And in this downward spiral, the depression certainly contributes to further failures, because it often becomes the excuse for using sin to handle the original sin itself.

 

Turn with me to Genesis 4.

 

Gen 4:4  Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; 

(5)  but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 

(6)  Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?  (7)  "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.

You must rule over it. You must master your sin.

 

Cain's response to not having his offering accepted by the Lord is anger and a fallen countenance, indicating he became depressed. God warned Cain before he killed Abel that sin was lying in wait to ensnare him and rule over his life. God warned him that it would come, and he needed to take control and resist it.  

But Cain refused God's counsel and complicated his life even more by killing Abel. Sinful handling of his original sin further complicated matters, leading to even greater guilt and deeper depression.

The way you respond to trials either sinks you deeper into the pit or pulls you up and ultimately out of the pit of despair.

Make no mistake - Living with the issues of a broken life can be devastating, full of pain and misery. It is vital to understand that Satan would love to see you remain in this condition, and fill you with a sense of being trapped with no way out.

Both David and Cain's problems stemmed from a fractured relationship with the Lord, and in Cain’s case, rebellion resulted from that broken relationship.

What caused Cain's depression? Cain chose not to submit to God and to do things his own way. Cain never dealt with the root cause of his problem.

But David did. His eyes were on the Lord. Even though he wrestled with God, David's focus was not on himself, nor on his problems, but on the Lord. What he longed for is the joy of knowing the presence of the Lord.

In dealing with depression, it is vital that we grasp this concept. David's deep longing to enjoy fellowship with the Lord was his highest priority, the thing he desired and needed more than anything else.

Restored fellowship with the Lord would not have ended David's depression in an instant. God never promises that, nor does the Bible teach it. To overcome his depression David would have had to pick up where he left off, face all it's responsibilities and duties with the renewed Grace and power that God had given him to do things God's way.

 

Back to Psalm 42

 

Verse 4  These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

 

David remembers how he worshipped God in the temple. There were crowds of people there. He even led them in the procession into the Temple –

He remembers how they all worshipped God with singing and dancing. It was like a great festival, one of the feasts.

 

And this is another good way of dealing with depression. To remember how good the Lord has been to you, how He has blessed you, to count your blessings, how it was when you were in His presence. In other words to rejoice in your trials and tribulations. To rejoice in the Lord despite your circumstances. That’s the sign of a mature Christian.

 

(6)  O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. 

 

Here we find David describing where he was. Some 200 kilometres north of Jerusalem is a group of mountains called the Hermons, where the River Jordan starts. Now the name Jordan means Descended and that is why he remembers God from the Jordanic low land, but also from the high peaks of the Hermons, and thus he creates the maximum vertical stretch possible from his small human perspective. He fills the entire leap from highest point of the earth to the lowest. From all these places, he remembers God, how he longs for God – and then he describes how it feels to be without the Lord’s presence, how God’s Creation has crushed him like a wave.

 

(7)  Deep calls unto deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.

 

Have you ever been swimming in the sea? Chances are then, that you know what a Dumper is? One of those little waves that you completely underestimate, that knocks you clean off your feet, rolls you for a few somersaults while simultaneously giving your ears, nose and throat a serious saline douche? Not a very pleasant experience, right?

Well David feels like all the dumpers in the entire sea have gone over him…

 

Yet, despite his circumstances, in verse 8, David’s heart for the Lord prevails.

Here for the first time, he calls God by His name YHWH. When you see the word LORD in Capital letters in your Bible, that is God’s name. Everywhere else he used the name God.

 

(8)  Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

 

After talking about the loving kindness of the Lord, and how his prayers are unto the God that gives him life, David suddenly makes a most profound statement in verse 9.

 

(9)  I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me?

 

Who is this rock? 1 Corinthians 10:4  And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was… Christ.

 

He draws our attention to the Messiah, to Jesus.

 

Matthew 27 talks about the crucifixion of Jesus.

 

Matthew 27:46  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

 

Again he draws our attention to the Messiah – to Jesus. Here he did it by quoting the Messianic Psalm 22.

 

Back to Psalm 42

(10)  As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?  (11)  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

 

There again, David asks the questions – and immediately gives the answers. Hope in God.

 

Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

 

 

Have you ever asked that question: Where is God?

 

Some would say that humanity is futile. Humanity is futile, all of this life on earth is totally worthless and pointless.

 

This attitude to life, this attitude that it is pointless, that there is no God in it, Or if He is there, He doesn't care about us - This philosophy of life being pointless and meaningless is taking over our society today. 

 

In this country specifically, because God has been taken out of so much of our society, life has become pretty meaningless… human life has become worthless… life is cheap… of little value. That’s why it’s become so easy for criminals to kill.

 

No God means no accountability, no-one to answer to; a worthless human existence –

 

No problem to rape a baby.

No problem to kill someone for a cellphone.

 

A Godless society, with no accountability and a pointless existence - it can even lead, ultimately, to suicide.

 

The writer Ernest Hemingway believed that, quote: 'Life is a rough track leading from nowhere to nowhere' - and, on the 2nd July 1961, Hemingway blew his head off with a shotgun.

 

No point to life at all.

 

'Where is God?

Where is God in the midst of my pain?

Where is God in the midst of my heartache, in the midst of my mental stress, in the midst of my illness, in the midst of my broken relationship?

Where is God now?'

 

Where is God when my husband leaves me?

Where is God when my wife dies?

Where is God when that child I loved is taken away?

Where is God when my business fails?

Where is God when my roof caves in?

Where is He?

 

'Where is God when these things happen to me?

 

 

Turn with me to Lamentations chapter 3. It’s just after Isaiah and Jeremiah.

The lamentations of Jeremiah, chapter 3

 

Verse 1: I am the man who has seen affliction because of the rod of His wrath.  (2)  He has led me and made me walk in darkness and not in light.  (3)  Surely against me He has turned His hand repeatedly all the day.  (4)  He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away, He has broken my bones.  (5)  He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship.

(6)  In dark places He has made me dwell, Like those who have long been dead.  

(7)  He has hedged me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy. 

(8)  Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer.  (9)  He has blocked my ways with carved stone; He has made my paths crooked.

 

Here Jeremiah clearly describes the feelings of someone who has been cast down to the very depths: that hedged in feeling – it’s the same feeling that David had, the same feeling that Job had, the same feeling Elijah had and the same feeling Paul had; the burdens that feel like chains getting heavier; walls of stone surround you, in every direction an uncertain road, a crooked path.

 

Where is God?

 

And what I want you to keep in mind here, is that this is the same Jeremiah who Jesus Christ so often quoted. How could a prophet of God who thundered against kings and nations fall into such deep turmoil and despair? Great kings and captains of mighty armies hung on his every word. This is the same prophet who kept mighty kings Jo-hanan and Ha-shaiah and all their armies, waiting for ten days while he sought God for their direction.

 

Again and again the Lord had spoken personally to this humble prophet.

He had experienced glorious revelations and mighty anointings of the Holy Spirit.

He knew what it was to hear the clear instructions from the Lord…

 

But now, he is down, way down, desperate and terribly depressed. Lonely, feeling rejected, thinking God had stopped answering his cry. On the verge of suicide, he even curses the day he was born. Then slowly, that old root of bitterness begins to spring up, and, as a result, he begins to lose focus, to lose his joy, to lose his peace and happiness…

 

and then in v15 he cries:

He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drunk with wormwood. 

(16)  He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has covered me in ashes. 

(17)  My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. 

 

Jeremiah, the great prophet Jeremiah, loses sight of God's hand in his life and is now verging on blasphemy. How sad, yet how very common to all people of God - Jeremiah hit the very bottom. He could get no lower.

 

Listen to his pitiful hopelessness in verse (18)  So I say, "My strength has perished, And so has my hope from the LORD."

 

Are you at this point in your life where you have practically given up and your hope is about to perish? Do you wonder if the day will ever come when you will be happy and carefree again? Do you worry that your trial has already lasted too long, and you are not going to be able to hold out if it continues? Do your hopes and dreams keep falling apart? Is your life filled with misery and trouble?

 

Well thank God - there is an answer to it all in His Word. We have been given a message of comfort for all who are cast down and depressed.

 

In his very darkest hour, Jeremiah discovered a glorious truth that brought new hope and assurance to his mind. It was something he already knew about God, but it didn't touch his soul until he came to the very end of himself.

 

He discovered that at the very bottom, at the very end of himself - there was only one thing left, and that was……… God!

The more broken you are, the more God can be discovered and the more God can work with.

The less of you, the more of God.

 

Jeremiah found this precious truth:-

 

Verse (20)  Surely my soul remembers And is humbled within me.  (21)  This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.  (22)  It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  (23)  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 

 

Like that lovely song says: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, new every morning, great is they Faithfulness oh Lord, Great is thy faithfulness.

 

And even though we deserve to be consumed and destroyed, the Lord’s mercy and compassion allows us to live. And that compassion and His forgiveness is made new every morning – how GREAT is His faithfulness!

 

Verse 40 Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD. 

(41)  We lift up our heart and hands Toward God in heaven;

 

What it all means is simply this: Get your eyes off your problems and afflictions, LOOK UP and have hope. Remind yourself that God is still faithful and that His compassion and tender love is yours for the taking.

 

Despite what you’re going through, God is still God! He is still on His throne, hearing and answering your prayers. It might not seem that way, but God will act on your behalf, not one minute too soon nor 1 minute too late..

 

Right now, even though you are down and hurting, He is a lot closer than you think.

Remember that God is much, so much bigger than your problem!

 

When you get to the point of asking Where is God -  wait quietly on the Lord …carry on occupying and He will bring you out into a safe place. God is too holy to fail you. His promises have not and cannot fail.

 

A final answer to Where is God, is found in Psalm 139. Please turn there.

 

Psa 139:1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me. 
(2)  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.  (3)  You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.  (4)  Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. 
(5)  You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.  (6)  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot grasp it.

 

 

 

Where is God?

 

Verse 7:  Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  (8)  If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.  (9)  If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,  (10)  Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.  (11)  If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,"  (12)  Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.  (13)  For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. 

(14)  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

 

Amen.