“Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him” (Job 9:11, ESV).
There are seasons in life, which scream for the manifest presence of God. Something in my heart and soul long for an unveiling or a pulling back of the curtain in order to make sense of the present. When the temperature rises, or the tension increases, I desire either relief or an explanation. It seems like those are normal, human expectations. When I read scripture passages like the one quoted above, I take a step back for a minute. Maybe those expectations arise from the wrong heart attitude.
There is something elusive about God’s character and his ways. Job says exactly that in plain language. He cannot see his God passing by him or working near him. The one thing Job needs, seeing his God at work, is hidden from view. Is the suffering so great that Job lacks the ability to recognize and sense God working in him, through him, and for him? Based on the overall context of Job chapter nine, he gives assent to God as the orchestrator of creation and its fluctuations. Those do not escape Job’s attention, yet God’s very presence eludes him.
I find this rather mysterious. Job knows that God is at work in him and in creation. In fact, those truths are inescapable to him, but his desire to see God or to perceive him speaks of something greater. It seems like Job longs for relational connection with the Lord. All he wants is to be able to see him. Where are you? Why are you hiding? Maybe those two questions capture a little more of Job. I have many instances in my life where I have asked those same questions. On some level, I knew what the Bible said about trusting and obeying in the midst of suffering.
There is a chorus to a hymn that goes trust and obey for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. It is a wonderful hymn and one of my personal favorites. Sometimes singing that hymn is not enough. Reading the above scripture text is not enough. What I need in times of suffering is to perceive my Lord. I want to know in my heart rather than my head that he is present with me. I think this is Job’s longing, too, which he is unafraid from expressing. This is a crucial point. If I have deep longings and questions like Job, then it behooves me to voice them. The Lord never rejects him because of the questions.
I think it is vital for believers in Jesus to come to a place where they can express their hearts with raw honesty like Job. If God is omniscient, if he knows what is on our hearts before we pray, then why act as if everything is fine before him? One thing that I am learning fast is that an unwillingness to share my heart is evidence of a lack of trust on my part. Something in my heart needs healing and restoration for the trust to return. It may mean that I lay aside my right to express the hurt to the Lord and simply acknowledge his holiness and greatness. This is not easy, and it is not my desire to paint such a picture. May the Lord grant me the courage and the faith to speak with raw honesty about my longings, fears, dreams, and hopes.