When God Seems Far Away
When God Seems Far Away
The lyrics to the song from the Broadway musical Evan Hansen, “You Will Be Found,” go like this:
Have you ever felt like nobody was there?
Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere?
Have you ever felt like you could disappear?
Like you could fall, and no one would hear?
Well, let that lonely feeling wash away
Maybe there's a reason to believe you'll be okay
'Cause when you don't feel strong enough to stand
You can reach, reach out your hand
And oh, someone will come running
And I know, they'll take you home
You will be found.
This is exactly what Jesus does with Zaccheus when He comes to him sitting high up in the tree. “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”” (Luke 19:5–7, ESV) Jesus finds Zaccheus, meets him in his place of need, goes to his home for dinner, and then leads him to a greater home in a restored relationship with God. Zaccheus seemed like the least likely person that could ever experience the love of God reaching into his life and turning things around, and, yet he was found by Jesus.
There are two extremely precarious times in our lives when we feel out of reach of the touch of God’s love in our lives and need to be found: when we are suffering and when we are sinning.
When we are suffering, the pain and hurt of the moment cause us to question the reality of a God who could let us go through something so difficult. Yet, it is at those moments that God most wants us to know He is with us to support us, to sustain us, and to satisfy us with His love. When the people of Israel were toward the end of their 400 years of slavery God said this to Moses: “I have seen the misery of my people…I have heard them crying out…I am concerned about their suffering…I have seen the way they are oppressed.” (Ex.3:7-9) Summarized God says, “I care.” Ultimately, Jesus comes to live on earth, to experience the full brunt of suffering and pain in this world, and to take it all upon Himself, that He might show to us the full extent of how God sees, hears, and knows our suffering. Then, through His own suffering, death and resurrection, He reveals God’s plan to lead us through that suffering and pain to redemption and restoration.
When we are sinning, our own shame and guilt lead us to run away or to hide away from God. It is our attempt to avoid dealing with the disappointment, the judgement, or the punishment we fear coming from God due to our failure. Our fears are somewhere on the spectrum of deeply held fear of God’s wrath against us for messing up to a mild sense of fear for disappointing the one we so wanted to impress. Yet, it is at these moments of running or hiding that God most wants us to know of His love that forgives our sin and overcomes the power of its pull in our lives. King David understood this when he prayed: “Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD. (Psalm 25:6–7) And, ultimately, Jesus came to live on earth, to die on the cross, and to rise again to new life to reach out to us in the midst of the mess we have made. He comes to us as we are running away and shows his love there. He finds us where we are hiding and reveals his love there. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
When Jesus finds you, whether it be in the midst of a time of suffering or in the midst of sin, He will take you to a home filled with peace, laughter and love.