My tears have been my bread day and night, while they continually say to me, “Where is your God?” Psalm 42:4 Hebrew text (Hebrew World)
Where – “Tragic is the embarrassment of the man of faith.” Do you experience the embarrassment of faith? Have you had the accusations of Job’s wife thrown at you? “If your God is so loving and good, why are you suffering so? If you believe He is kind and faithful, why is there so much suffering in the world? Why would His ‘Son’ have to suffer like that? What kind of God could stand aside and let this happen?” Job’s wife exhorted Job to “bless” God and die. Yes, her words are translated “Curse God,” but the Hebrew word is berek, “bless”, not aroora, “cursed.” The great irony of faith is the absence of God in the lives of the righteous.
David is suffering, not only because his personal trauma affects his life but also because the taunts of the wicked dishonor the God he serves. When God fails to rescue His children, the world concludes that God is callous or impotent or worse. God’s honor is defiled by His apparent abandonment. The man of faith endures ridicule for his convictions and humiliation for God’s name. What is such a man to do? Even his hope seems dashed against the rocks of the real world. Day and night he cries for relief and vindication, but far too often there is no answer from heaven.
David finds two sources of comfort. The first is determined by his direction. While he is unable to see the course of God’s hand in the resolution he feels he needs, he can see the hand of God in his past. Unlike the man who looks for God over the horizon, David rows his boat with his eyes firmly set on the buoy markers he can see. He faces the past in order to proceed into the future. He looks where God has been in order to answer the question, “Where is God now?”
The second is the permission he gives himself to feel and express what is happening in his heart. Notice that David does not resolve his concerns by castigating himself for feeling as if God has abandoned him. That’s really how he feels! He knows it and God knows it. So he expresses exactly what he feels. He doesn’t try to spiritualize it or push it out of sight. This is comfort – to be able to speak my heart in front of God. It isn’t necessary that God answer me directly, immediately, assuredly. It is important only that God hears me. Where is God? Listening to me, that’s where God is!
There will always be dark nights of the soul. There will always be spiritual eclipses of His light. Until He reveals Himself as Lord of creation, we will experience absence. But the cardiac wasteland is the home of El Shaddai. He hears the cry of the afflicted. In fact, it is because we are afflicted that we can raise our lament to Him. And He remembers who we are.
Topical Index: where, ayeh, abandoned, Heschel, Psalm 42:4
 Abraham Heschel, I Asked for Wonder, p. 38
 see my article “Row Your Boat,” and the discussion of Exodus 33:23
I am leaving for South Africa today and will be gone for 2 weeks. Patrick will be watching over Today’s Word, but if you need to contact me, please remember that I will not always have internet access. Skip