Where is God? by Bob Russell
Where is God?
I’ve received several communications the past few days from Christians who are absolutely distraught over what seems to be the inevitable result of the election. They aren’t necessarily Donald Trump groupies, but they are deeply concerned about our nation’s drift toward socialism, the expansion of abortion rights, the threat to religious freedom, etc.
Numerous policies of political progressives are utterly opposed to the values Bible-believing Christians hold dear. That’s why many Christ-followers are baffled by the election results and wonder, “Where is God? We prayed. We stood up for what we believed to be right. We voted our conscience. Why weren’t our prayers answered in the affirmative?”
I am disappointed too. As I mentioned in this column two weeks ago, I am a pro-life voter, and the abortion issue was clearly defined in this election. While I’m disappointed with the results, I am not at all given to despair. When we wonder, “Where is God?” let’s first remember we should not ask that question.
Joseph must have asked that same question when imprisoned in Egypt. He had resisted the temptation to commit adultery, and his reward was being jailed for two years. Where was God? The 19th Century poet James Russell Lowell wrote, “Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.” Indeed, God was with Joseph in prison, adeptly laying the groundwork for Joseph’s dramatic promotion. He would have never been introduced to Pharaoh if he had not met the king’s cupbearer in jail. Who would have ever guessed the road to becoming Prime Minister of Egypt was led through a prison?
Where is God? Daniel must have asked that question when thrown into the den of hungry lions, and it appeared he was about to be devoured! Yet, “Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.” God glued the mouths of the lions shut, and Daniel’s life was spared. King Darius was so impressed with that miracle he decreed that everyone in his kingdom must show respect to the God whom Daniel worshipped.
The Apostle Paul must have asked that same question when arrested in Philippi. He had responded to a vision of a man from Macedonia begging, “Come over and help us!” Yet, when Paul obeyed the heavenly vision, he soon found himself arrested, scourged, and shackled in a dungeon. Where was God? Paul didn’t anticipate that a divinely orchestrated earthquake would release the prisoners and open the door for the conversion of the jailer and his family and become the beginning of a joyful church in Philippi. Yet, “Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.”
Even Jesus asked that question. While suffering physical and spiritual anguish on the cross, our Savior cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” No one at the base of the cross suspected Jesus’ death could have any positive benefit. But the Heavenly Father was standing in the shadows keeping watch over His own. God used that terrible, wonderful cross to provide redemption and hope for all mankind.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
It’s no wonder that we often can’t figure out what God is doing. He doesn’t intend us to! He just wants us to trust that all things will work together for good to those who love Him. But, “… without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
We can speculate about what God is doing today, but like Joseph, Daniel, and Paul, let’s admit we usually don’t have a clue until the final chapter is written.
Maybe God has had enough of Donald Trump boasting about what he has accomplished. Indeed, some good things happened during the past four years: the economy boomed, Jerusalem was acknowledged as Israel’s capitol, conservative, pro-lifers were appointed to the Supreme Court, the pro-life cause was endorsed. But, be honest, the President often took too much credit and boasted of what he did. And, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).
While some pundits speculate the election could be overturned in the courts due to rampant voter fraud, maybe the Lord is allowing a different outcome to teach our nation we reap what we sow. God sometimes granted people’s wishes just to show them the tragic results of their sinful desires, much like a shrewd uncle might give his eight-year-old nephew a chaw of tobacco, knowing the resulting nausea would cure him of any interest in tobacco for life! When Israel demanded a king, God granted their wish even though God warned them a king would confiscate their sons for war and levy heavy taxes. The Lord may be allowing us to sow the wind, knowing we will reap the whirlwind to teach us some lessons the hard way.
Perhaps Joe Biden (and his advisors) will make the right decisions and turn America toward God. Or maybe the new administration will be so pitiful Americans will crave a righteous leader who would never have been accepted otherwise. Perhaps Christians will be persecuted, and the church purged. Or maybe believers will quit putting their trust in government and trust only in God. Perhaps Jesus will return next week, and it won’t matter at all who is in office!
Who knows? But we can be confident God is paving the way to fulfill His will in ways we can’t even imagine. When the Israelites seemed hopelessly trapped at the Red Sea, they were so distraught they accused Moses of bringing them into the wilderness to die. God told the people to “stand still and watch and see what I am about to do.” No one anticipated the parting of the Red Sea! God’s ways are higher than our ways!
Our assignment now is to live righteous lives and be keenly perceptive of what God is up to. It may be judgment. It may be discipline. It may be rescue. It may be prosperity. It probably will be something we don’t anticipate. The test for us right now is to keep trusting that, “Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.”
“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).