Read Psalm 74:1-23
God, Where Are You?
We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left,
and none of us knows how long this will be.
Have you ever talked to God like the writer of this psalm did? I have! There have been times of desperation in my life—when a loved one was on her death-bed, when a conflict arose that seemed to have no resolution, when a financial need was staring me in the eyes and I had absolutely no answer for it; when an attack came from out of nowhere that just sucked the life out of me.
You’ve had those moments, too. And if we dared to be brutally honest with God, we said something to the effect, “God, where are you? You are really letting me down on this one!” Or worse! Don’t worry, Jesus had a moment like that: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Perhaps your desperate cry to God has been more general—like the one in this particular verse. Your holy discontent has led you to prayerfully complain to God that he never seems to show up in his power and glory, with signs, wonders and miracles, like he did in days of old—and there seems to be no indication that he will anytime soon. You are desperate for God, but he doesn’t seem desperate for you.
The writer of this psalm most likely penned this prayerful lament after the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. The Jews were deported to Babylon, the Holy Land had been overrun and defiled by pagans, and God’s people were in a bad way—with no end in sight. Worst of all, God was silent—he wasn’t acting (“no miracles”), he wasn’t talking (“no prophets”) and there was no game plan except for more of the same (“we don’t know how long this will be”).
So the psalmist poured out his complaint—which is always a good thing. And even though it wasn’t in this psalm, God did give his people some profound advice (I guess his advice is always profound since, after all, he is God) through a prophet that served around the same time as the palmist. His words are recorded in Jeremiah 29:1-23. I hope you will take the time to read them.
Of course, this passage contains the verse that everyone loves: Jeremiah 29:11—I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and give you a hope and a future. But read the context. God is, in essence, saying to them, “this difficult time is going to take a while, and yes, I will see you through it. But in the meantime, bloom where I’ve planted you. Even though you don’t hear me or see me, I am still at work. I’m doing my part, so you do your part by staying faithful and useful to me.”
Here’s the deal: The best part of our walk with God is not what he does for us, as glorious as that may be, it is what he does in us! Faith, humility, trust, and Christ-likeness is best forged in the crucible of adversity. God has done that with all the greats—Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Job, Daniel, Paul… Why should you be any different? Out of the fire of advesity comes the fruit of righteousness.
Frustrating times may last for a long time, but fruitful people will endure forever.
“God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you
to go through it, not without pain but without stain.”