This post was written by Doug McDaniel, a former pastor and current BCC counselor. He counsels in our Northwest Indiana offices and online via Skype.
“Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: My way is hidden from the LORD, And my just claim is passed over by my God.” – These words from Isaiah 40:27 are describing the reality of God’s chosen people while in painful captivity in Babylon. Their way of life had been disrupted, their temple had been destroyed, and they had been uprooted and placed in a strange environment. Nothing was the same. Life had been made uncertain. Where was God?
Today, amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, our lives have been made uncertain. Everything has changed: what was normal is not anymore; we isolate and avoid gathering; we wear masks and keep a safe distance from everyone. For some, it is not unusual to wonder if God is aware, or if He cares to respond.
When life becomes unpredictable, we may be tempted towards despair. The awareness of our difficulties may hinder us in our awareness of God. What we are aware of is our own estate, and we look towards ourselves for help.
In the recesses of our hearts, we may be complaining that God is ignoring us, and our way is truly hidden from the Lord. But we are God’s people; how are God’s people living in the midst of uncertainty and unpredictability to experience God?
Has God lost his power or has he fallen asleep?
What the prophet Isaiah is crying out to us is this: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the creator of the ends of the earth neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah 40:28) If our way is hidden it is because we have done the hiding. God invites us to pursue him again with our whole heart.
The prophet sets before us a sublime description of the faithfulness and the power of God. He is saying to us that God gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might, He increases strength. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31) In our pursuit of God, we find strength to continue and boldness to face the uncertainty of life by faith.
Has God forgotten about his people?
The difficulties of our situation are real, but God has never separated Himself from us or our problems, nor does He desire to judge us for our being unaware of Him in such difficulties. What He wants is to redeem us from this uncertainty. With His help, we can respond to uncertainty when we choose to remember, focus, and respond.
We are to remember that we are to live by faith and not by sight. We live our lives out of that reality, not the reality of our emotions or circumstances. We have the guidance of Scripture and the Holy Spirit, and godly men and women to lead us.
We are to focus on the presence of God. If we are to have faith in Him, we must believe that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him. He is not an idea or a concept; He is a reality. God may not be visible, but He is real, and He is powerfully present.
We are to respond with thanksgiving for everything we experience, including the uncertainty of the pandemic. We are given the opportunity of learning new things of God and new things of ourselves. We are given the possibility of growing up spiritually and maturing in faith, and we are given the opportunity to help someone else.
The real test of our faith is that we, not seeing God, continue each day to walk in His grace and not grow weary.