(…continued) Even C.S. Lewis—so brilliant and so wise in the faith—could be devastated to the point where he felt he had lost God. Even Jeremiah—who at times spoke to God and heard God’s voice—could at times in this world feel lost and without God. Certainly we too will have those times when God seems close and times when he seems far away. We must learn to trust not our feelings but God’s Word in which we read of his promises.
Christian philosopher and author Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) compared God’s Word to a letter you receive from a long-lost loved one. For years you have not seen this person or even known if they were alive or dead. Finally a letter comes, not in the mail, but hand-delivered by someone who saw someone who saw someone who saw your loved one. The letter is faded and crumpled, and the writing is hard to read, but the signature is unmistakable. Without a doubt, this letter is from your long lost loved one.
What will you do? Will you grumble and complain and say, “This is too hard to read” and throw the letter away? Of course not. Rather, you will receive that letter with great joy and hope and enthusiasm. And then you will, with great care, take it to your desk and get the best light on it that you can. You will then unfold it carefully, and no matter how long it would take, you would study and read and decipher and do all you can to make out every word. You would not want to miss even one letter or punctuation mark. You would want to understand all of it that you could, even though its information is limited and far less than you would hope for. Then, imagine that the letter said your loved one wanted to meet you and gave you a time and place to meet. Wouldn’t you read that part with the greatest expectation and care and make every effort to follow the instructions?
That is what we have in the Bible. It does not tell us everything we might want to know. It is not always as clear as we might wish it to be. But even so, how few struggle to understand all what God is telling us in His Word. And though the Bible may not give us all the answers we want, it tells us everything we need to know for life and salvation. Like the crumpled letter, it lets us know that someone who loves us is alive, and he’s always been here, and he’ll be coming again, and he wants us to meet him and be with him forever. It is for us to read with great care and believe and follow instruction and respond. It’s for us to pay attention.
It is not for us to grumble about what we don’t know, or to complain that God seems absent. The Bible says God is absent because he has chosen to be absent. All too often people complain that God is absent, but at the same time, they ignore those ways God has chosen to be present and speak to us. God has chosen when and where to reveal himself, and what he will tell us about himself. It is for us to receive with thanksgiving what we have been given and to believe it.
Genesis 3:8a…9 — Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day… (and) the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Genesis 3:23a — (Then) the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden… (and from his visible presence)
Jeremiah 15:18 — Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails.
Ephesians 2:12-19 (parts) — Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.
II Corinthians 5:7 — We live by faith, not by sight.
II Timothy 3:16 — All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
—Book of Common Prayer