They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD …
The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’
— Jeremiah 2:6, 8
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
— Psalm 13:1
“Where is God?” Don’t be afraid to ask this question. In fact, we won’t get very far towards revival unless we take seriously this question. According to the Bible, the faithful should ask “Where is the Lord?” whenever God’s power and presence are lacking.
Before saying more, let’s clarify an important distinction between the omnipresence and manifest presence of God.
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God is everywhere (Psalm 139:7), but it’s also true that He is more present in certain places than others, like at Jacob’s Bethel (Genesis 28:16). Similarly, all Christians are indwelt with God’s Spirit (Romans 8:9), but not all Christians are full of God’s Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). On the one hand, He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), but sometimes God withdraws His presence from us, usually in order to awaken us from our sin (James 4:1-10). There is a real difference between God’s omnipresence and His manifest presence.
The manifest presence of God has retreated from American Christianity for many years now. Why? Yes, because of our sins, which need to be repented of, but also because He wants us to seek Him out. The Lord desires to be fully near to us, but there are times when our initiative is required. The Lord will return to us, but we need to return to Him first (Zechariah 1:3).
Sadly and wrongly, many Christian leaders have responded to America’s spiritual decline with optimism instead of querying God, trying to figure out what’s wrong. Our spiritual shepherds say, “God is still with us!” even though it’s obvious that He is not, at least not His manifest presence. Perhaps these Christian leaders do not want to cause panic among Christians. Or perhaps they don’t understand what God is really like.
They say, “It’s okay that so many Americans no longer consider themselves Christians. That just gives us more opportunity to evangelize.” All the while, our evangelistic efforts fail because we lack the manifest presence of God.
What we need most of all is God’s full power and presence. When we don’t have that, we should go to God and ask, “Where are you? Why are you hiding Your face? Where have we gone astray? Show us, so that we can return to You!”
Our God, You are the perfect Father – comforting us and correcting us, helping us and disciplining us. Thank You that You are eager to restore Your presence and power to us when we return to You. Awaken us now to our need for You. Let us hunger and thirst for You like a deer panting for streams of water. Revive us again! We ask through our Lord Jesus, amen.
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