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  • Writer's pictureTim Hemingway

When God Feels Distant, Desire!

There is a place of Christian existence that knows what it is like to be close with God, but where the soul doesn't experience what it is like to be close with God. That might be owing to disobedience, or to circumstances, or neglect - whatever the cause, God feels distant. That was David's experience in Psalm 27. The way David reacts to that experience is a pattern that we can follow in the same circumstances.

Even though the experience of the soul is one of distance from God, it is nonetheless one of desire for God also. David has six chief desires despite his distance. He desires to dwell with God (v.4); he desires to gaze upon the Lord (v.4); he desires to be in God's temple (v.4); he seeks God's face (v.6); he seeks God's goodness (v.13); and he desires to dwell in the land of the living. None of these desires are diminished by distance, they remain burning in his soul - even more so for his distance from God.

Who has the power to deliver him from his distance and fulfil the desires of his heart? God alone. Which is why the psalm is peppered with prayers - eight in all - and all for the desires of his heart; the desire to be close to God; the desire to be where he is. 'One thing I ask from the Lord'; 'Hear my voice when I call Lord, be merciful and answer me'; 'Do not hide your face from me'; 'Do no turn your servant away'; 'Do not reject me or forsake me'; 'Teach me your way'; 'Lead me in straight paths'; 'Do not hand me over to the desire of my foes'. These are the utterances of a heart yearning for God.

After prayer comes patience. The Lord doesn't always answer immediately. Verse 14, 'Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart; wait for the Lord' - he wrestles with himself.

And what is the goal of all these desires for nearness to God; all the asking for those desires to be fulfilled; all the waiting for those prayers to be answered? I count eighteen benefits of being close to God: His light; His salvation; A Stronghold; Enemies fall; No fear; Confidence; Safety; A hiding place; Height; Exaltation; Joy; Song; A Saviour; A Helper; A reception with God; The goodness of God; Living in the land of the living (not the dead); and, To be able to sacrifice to the Lord.

All these benefits are either gifts that come from God or accrue from the very nature of God himself. So God is glorified in them all. God is glorified when we want him for him; to be with him where he is, and to enjoy him for who he is. Since these things glorify him, he is pleased to answer our prayers and fulfil the desires of our hearts. Therefore we can have confidence following David's pattern in times of distance from our God. He will hear and answer our prayers. He will bring us into his very precious presence all over again.


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