I remember a time when my oldest son was 4, he was upset because he’d lost his bouncy ball. He’d been bouncing it all over the house, and it bounced away to a remote corner of some room when my son wasn’t watching. He was so distraught over the loss, he just sat on the couch and cried. “Baby,” I said, holding back laughter, “you have to look for it if you want to find it!” He wasn’t going to ever see that little ball again if he stayed on the couch. But if he got up and started searching the corners, he’d find his ball and get back to having fun.
Once he was back to his game, I got to thinking about how often that scenario is true in my own walk with God. Sometimes I feel incredibly close to the Lord. I can sense His direction; His word fills me with joy and thanksgiving and I can tell that He is working in my life. Other times, He seems far away, lost in a little corner somewhere. I feel like David when he prays, “Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1, CSB). Surely that’s how the Israelites felt when they were in captivity in Babylon. The message brought to them by the prophet Jeremiah probably wasn’t what they were hoping for (there would be sword, famine and pestilence), but there was also a bigger end game full of hope for the Israelites. There would be an end to the pain, and when the Israelites sought for God, they would find Him. God doesn’t always run to us to ease our distress – particularly when we have sinned. But He does promise to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
Our lives as followers of Christ won’t always be fun and rosy. There are consequences and discipline for sin. Sometimes we’ll feel alone and like we just want to sit on the couch and cry over how we can’t seem to find God. But don’t stay there crying! God uses those periods of “captivity” away from Him for our good. Get up and seek Him. Pray, read your Bible, worship, and listen to wise counsel from godly friends and family. He promises to be there, to be found by you at the right time. He won’t stay hidden forever. And then be ready for this cycle to repeat itself, knowing better for next time that God’s silence and distance doesn’t mean He has abandoned you. If you want to find Him, get looking.
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