Imagine that you are sitting among the Jews somewhere in Babylon during the Exile. You will probably hear conversations like this: Where is God when we needed Him most? Why did God allow this tragedy to happen to us? Does Yahweh really care about us anymore? During this time there were many documents written by pious Jews that gave vent to their inner struggles in trying to make sense out of their present suffering and their faith in God.
For example, the author of the Prayer of Azariah acknowledged that it was the nation’s sin that resulted in their exile. In lamenting their plight, he echoed the feelings of all his people.
“In our day we have no ruler, or prophet, or leader, no burnt offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, no place to make an offering before you and to find mercy.”
This last statement seems to express their situation best as a people totally abandoned by God. The question is, where then could these people find their hope and bearing again? Will God return to them again? Or, do they need to find another ‘god’ elsewhere?
Psalm 42:9-11 shows us how we could still trust God even though we may feel that God has forgotten or forsaken us.
“I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? 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.”
First, no matter what crisis we are in, we must still trust God as our personal rock. Though everything around us seems to give way, yet God is still our foundation and solid rock! Say to God, “You are my rock.”
Second, though our present circumstances may be bleak, yet we should encourage ourselves and hope in God. The Psalmist encourages himself, “Hope thou in God.”
Finally, we could also look forward like the psalmist to the day when we shall glorify God for His deliverance and victory. In the meantime, we need to be strong and fight the good fight of faith. Will God cast us away forever? The answer is no, for He has promised never to leave us alone (Heb. 13:5, 6).
Rev. Mark Tay