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April Motl Christian Blog and Commentary

April Motl

Crosswalk.com Contributor

waiting when God feels far awayAnd I will wait for the Lord who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him... Isaiah 8:17

If you feel like God is hiding His face from you, you are not alone. And it isn’t because He doesn’t like you or any of the other words of doubt that might nip at the contentment of your soul. You are sitting in a precious place of waiting with many of our Father’s dearly beloved children!

David wrote:

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death.
Psalm 13:1-3
 

The Lord said that David was a man after His own heart. If even the Man After God’s Own Heart felt like God’s face was at times hard to find, we ought not be surprised when we find ourselves in similar seasons.

A woman followed after Jesus and she also felt like the Lord was hiding His face from her:


And Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman came out from that region, and began to cry out, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed." But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came to Him and kept asking Him, saying, "Send her away, for she is shouting out after us." But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."  But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" And He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." But she said, "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once.  Matthew 15:21-28 NASB

Jesus wasn’t ignoring her or lacking compassion toward her need. He was “setting the stage.” This woman who was an “outsider” to the Jewish faith displayed more belief than the very people who were supposed to have been ready and waiting for Jesus’ coming. In addition, her story prepared the way for the Gospel being preached to those outside the Jewish faith. She was a symbol and foreshadowing of the work God was planning to accomplish among the gentiles. And she was a great example of faith!  Jesus’ response to her only allowed the rest of us to see her faith and humility clearly displayed. If He hadn’t responded to her the way He did, we wouldn’t be challenged and inspired by her heart for God.

Her story ought to bring us some encouragement for our prayer lives as well! Like the Canaanite woman we ought not give up, even when it feels like our prayers aren’t being heard or like the Lord is far away. And in the midst of the seasons where we might be tempted to feel like God isn’t hearing or compassionate toward our need, we can to follow the kind of example of humility this woman displayed. She didn’t get angry at Jesus. She didn’t waiver in her faith. She cast herself completely at His feet and trusted Him.

By following her example, we can use her words for our own prayer pattern (the pattern we can use is in normal font and the italicized phrases are her quotes from the passage):

- Ask for mercy - Have mercy on me 
- Worship the Lord for who He is - O Lord, Son of David
- Present your need -
My daughter is cruelly demon-possessed
- Worship the Lord as you position your heart in humility -
But she came and began to bow down before Him saying, "Lord, help me!"
- Be genuinely grateful for however He chooses to work, believing that even His crumbs are precious and sweet. -
"Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."

From the Man After God’s Own Heart to a Gentile woman from the New Testament we can see that sometimes we are called to wait on the Lord because He is up to something good. When God feels far away it is really hard to wait on Him. It was hard for even the “heroes” of our faith. But we can stand with them, wait for our Lord, and together “let our hearts take courage.”

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14

Join us for more encouragement from the Waiting for God series at www.MotlMinistries.org.

Waiting For God Alone

waiting for God 2For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psalm 62:1 NIV

Has a season of waiting threatened the stability of your heart? I’ve certainly experienced more shaking to my faith in God’s character than I care to admit. But with each experience, God has been so faithful to recenter my faith deeper and truer than before--and fixed solely on Him so that in the future I am less and less shaken by hardships.

The Hebrew word for shaken is mot; meaning to totter, shake, or slip. It’s also translated as fall, falter, be moved, stagger, or shaken violently.

If you were to think back over the times you felt your faith shaken in God’s goodness, in His love for you, in His complete ability to save you from sin, or any of the other doubts about Him that have tugged at your heart, can you look back and see that a posture of waiting was necessary in your faith journey at that time?

I can see that sometimes when I’ve slipped the most severely in my faith journey it has been because the Lord wanted me to hunker down, and wait. He knew my feet needed to slow down for whatever was ahead and when I didn’t, I slip, slid, and tottered.

I’ve watched beloved fellow servants of Christ get twisted up in their faith journey because a circumstance was so discouraging or confusing that they wanted to plow through it and get to the other side (and who can blame them). But they needed to wait on the Lord instead of blasting through the pain. In their rush and hurry I watched the purity of their faith hit a slip and slide.

It’s one thing to know we are supposed to fix our expectation only on the Lord and an entirely different thing to actually live it out. Waiting on the Lord isn’t always perfectly clear when your in the midst of it. God often works through our circumstances, so as we wait for Him, our eyes are figuratively darting around, looking for His hand. When people tell us we are being lazy and need to “just get out there” and do XYZ, we can question if we are really waiting for God or simply being foolish or lazy. Waiting can be confusing.

In the above verse, David did a couple things we can practice in our hard seasons. He waited for the Lord. But his waiting was in silence or stillness.

A few years ago, for a delightful season, I worked as a photographer. And as a photographer, I know the value of stillness. Lenses these days have delightful, modern mechanisms that allow us more jiggle and wiggle in our shots. But when my grandpa was shooting before image stabilizers and the like, it required absolute, perfect stillness to capture a clear photo. I usually photograph portraits of people or weddings, and that is what my gear is best suited for, but on vacations I usually drag my man out to go “hunting” for animals at dawn. The low light and stretching my gear’s focal ability makes me need to be perfectly still more than I normally would. If I’m not still, the image will be blurry, and the shot spoiled.

Our spiritual waiting can be a lot like waiting to get the perfect picture of a bear or big horned sheep in the early morning hours. We must hunker into our place with quietness. If we make noise, chatter, whine about the cold or damp, fidget with our breakfast or camera equipment, we will miss the beauty of the dawn. We won’t be ready for the potential delight we could find there because our expectation is everywhere else but where it should be.

My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:6 NAS

When God has called me to seasons of waiting, my focus is tempted to dart over everything else in my life. I want to pick up the phone and chat with a friend, sort my closet, start some project, anything but waiting for God in a posture of silence and expectation. But when I quiet my heart so that the Lord fills my whole attention, I am promised the security and joy of heart I truly desire.

I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken (that’s our word mot). Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices. Psalm 16:8-9a

I so very much want a “glad” heart and a glory that rejoices! If you are in a waiting place, I pray your heart would be steadfast and glad because you continually make the Lord your complete focus. May He grace you to find stillness before Him so that He would be your steady Rock and Salvation in all things.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip (there’s our word again) into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Psalm 46:1-3

For God Alone

waiting for God 2For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psalm 62:1 NIV

Has a season of waiting threatened the stability of your heart? I’ve certainly experienced more shaking to my faith in God’s character than I care to admit. But with each experience, God has been so faithful to recenter my faith deeper and truer than before--and fixed solely on Him so that in the future I am less and less shaken by hardships.

The Hebrew word for shaken is mot; meaning to totter, shake, or slip. It’s also translated as fall, falter, be moved, stagger, or shaken violently.

If you were to think back over the times you felt your faith shaken in God’s goodness, in His love for you, in His complete ability to save you from sin, or any of the other doubts about Him that have tugged at your heart, can you look back and see that a posture of waiting was necessary in your faith journey at that time?

I can see that sometimes when I’ve slipped the most severely in my faith journey it has been because the Lord wanted me to hunker down, and wait. He knew my feet needed to slow down for whatever was ahead and when I didn’t, I slip, slid, and tottered.

I’ve watched beloved fellow servants of Christ get twisted up in their faith journey because a circumstance was so discouraging or confusing that they wanted to plow through it and get to the other side (and who can blame them). But they needed to wait on the Lord instead of blasting through the pain. In their rush and hurry I watched the purity of their faith hit a slip and slide.

It’s one thing to know we are supposed to fix our expectation only on the Lord and an entirely different thing to actually live it out. Waiting on the Lord isn’t always perfectly clear when your in the midst of it. God often works through our circumstances, so as we wait for Him, our eyes are figuratively darting around, looking for His hand. When people tell us we are being lazy and need to “just get out there” and do XYZ, we can question if we are really waiting for God or simply being foolish or lazy. Waiting can be confusing.

In the above verse, David did a couple things we can practice in our hard seasons. He waited for the Lord. But his waiting was in silence or stillness.

A few years ago, for a delightful season, I worked as a photographer. And as a photographer, I know the value of stillness. Lenses these days have delightful, modern mechanisms that allow us more jiggle and wiggle in our shots. But when my grandpa was shooting before image stabilizers and the like, it required absolute, perfect stillness to capture a clear photo. I usually photograph portraits of people or weddings, and that is what my gear is best suited for, but on vacations I usually drag my man out to go “hunting” for animals at dawn. The low light and stretching my gear’s focal ability makes me need to be perfectly still more than I normally would. If I’m not still, the image will be blurry, and the shot spoiled.

Our spiritual waiting can be a lot like waiting to get the perfect picture of a bear or big horned sheep in the early morning hours. We must hunker into our place with quietness. If we make noise, chatter, whine about the cold or damp, fidget with our breakfast or camera equipment, we will miss the beauty of the dawn. We won’t be ready for the potential delight we could find there because our expectation is everywhere else but where it should be.

My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:6 NAS

When God has called me to seasons of waiting, my focus is tempted to dart over everything else in my life. I want to pick up the phone and chat with a friend, sort my closet, start some project, anything but waiting for God in a posture of silence and expectation. But when I quiet my heart so that the Lord fills my whole attention, I am promised the security and joy of heart I truly desire.

I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken (that’s our word mot). Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices. Psalm 16:8-9a

I so very much want a “glad” heart and a glory that rejoices! If you are in a waiting place, I pray your heart would be steadfast and glad because you continually make the Lord your complete focus. May He grace you to find stillness before Him so that He would be your steady Rock and Salvation in all things.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip (there’s our word again) into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Psalm 46:1-3

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