Psalm 10:1: “O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble?”

When I visited my little niece and nephew in Germany a few years ago their favorite game was to play hide-and-seek. For some reason the oldest of children’s games is still quite popular. While playing games and hiding out is fun, a hiding God is not. Have you ever felt stuck in a situation wondering: “Where on earth is God?!” Welcome to the club of God-seekers!

When we are troubled in some way then we also know the feeling of helplessness creeping in when nothing seems to work – especially after praying (sometimes viewed as the last resort). Frustrated, the psalmist here prays (Psalm 10:1):

“God, why do you stand so far away? I’m over here! Why is it that you seem farthest away when I need you most?”

We have to come to terms with the fact that not everything about our mysterious God is explainable. – And I believe that this is a good thing, even though it may drive us crazy sometimes. Remember, God was here first; He preceded His creation; and since He has lived forever, His experience is simply enormous. Bearing that in mind, can we appreciate His complexity?

Speaking of complexity, even human beings are hard to predict, although we’re often tempted to. We see certain behavior patterns, and then we jump to conclusions. If we are seriously expecting people to always behave the same way then we’ll be quickly disappointed. People are a wildcard! The 1993 American fantasy comedy film “Groundhog Day” plays off of that notion.  In an effort to create a perfect date for a special lady, one of the main characters in the movie tries to win the girl’s favor by memorizing all her likes and dislikes. Spoiler alert (if you haven’t watched this movie yet): it ain’t working!

If figuring out people won’t work, how much less figuring out God!

Where does this leave us when we are frustrated with God’s apparent nonchalance? The best we can do is to hang in there. I’m a firm believer of venting in the privacy of my prayer closet. If venting to God prevents us from doing something stupid, then our prayers are already working.

God always listens to what we have to say, so if you are already praying, don’t give up just yet. And if you haven’t prayed yet, by all means, try it! Tell God how you feel. Be direct with Him. And as you pray, get ready for some curve-balls flying – because God is in the habit of answering prayers in most surprising ways!

Isaiah 43:11-12: “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.”

There are many gods spelled in lower case. They sound a bit like this:

“I am god; I can do whatever I want and you just have to deal with it.”

It’s our exposure to such gods that brings about the misconception that we have to appease the deity somehow to win him over. We have to crawl and cater to his whims and strange wishes. We think with this capricious god on our side we gain power and can dominate the world just like he already does.

This flawed god-perception has done a lot of harm to planet Earth in general and humankind in particular since it feeds the attitude of an abuser. We wreck a planet to cater to our needs, and we wreck relationships because we act like little gods.

This attitude, however, is foreign to the God spelled with a capital G. This God is often mistaken to be one of the gods in lower case. I call that a tragic misunderstanding, and it leads to a couple of problems:

There are people out there who feel extremely frustrated with the gods and they rightly say: “I’m done with gods. We’re better off without them.” Atheists have my vote, any time of day. I too am done with gods, and the older I get, it seems, the less patient I become with those unpredictable beings with the god-complex.

Then there are people that cling to the gods to various degrees in hopes to better cope with everyday living. I say to various degrees and mean Fahrenheit or Celsius for that matter. The hotter their god-pursuit, the more fanatical they become shedding a real awkward light on the real deal, the God with the capital G. God calls His competitors foreign gods, because they are foreign to His character.

Let’s turn to the real deal for a while and think of the situation this way: We’re caught right in the middle of gods competing with God, even though it’s ridiculous to think they stand a chance. They simply don’t compare to the real deal. However, that’s exactly the issue at hand: We’re so familiar with false gods that we have a hard time imagining there’s a real One.

It’s confusing, isn’t it?

In an attempt to better differentiate Him from the lower-case gods, going forward I’ll call God with a capital G “God Almighty”. So, where does God Almighty start to get our attention? Here is one thing I’ve noticed about Him and it’s a stark difference to the brazen and noisy gods around us:

God Almighty is subtle.

Here is another one, and I believe that must be difficult for Him at times:

God Almighty does not abuse His power.

We are so used to being manipulated by the false gods that this probably escapes us how the all-powerful almighty God could not use His capabilities to initiate His favorite outcome. Yes, He could do that in a heartbeat. He could get rid of all the false gods that way, but the outcome, true to His divine nature, would be highly unsatisfactory. Here it is:

God Almighty does not seek God-copycats.

God Almighty seeks face-to-face encounters with independent minds. God Almighty, the real deal, seeks the real deal with us. He wants a relationship unburdened with fear and manipulation. He wants honest opinions, raw feelings, and openness. The ensuing communication flow is more precious to Him than anything else.

So, what does God Almighty do to get our attention? He does everything: He reveals Himself, He saves and He proclaims. He has been doing these three things consistently, and personally, I’m glad He has, praise God! What a relief to get rid of all these wanna-be gods and meet the Original. I rest my case.

Granted, it’s sometimes not easy to get through to Him. Life on Earth is a bit convoluted, to say the least. And those gods really mean business. They hate being ignored. God Almighty doesn’t fight dirty. He lets those gods have their way with us, but then He doesn’t leave us hanging either. In all His subtlety, He is also very direct and straight forward. He will kick butts if He has to, but He will not overstep His boundaries when it comes to our free will. Does this blow your mind? Welcome to God’s mysterious heart. Dive deep and explore. He is awesome, that is all can say, the rest you have to find out for yourself.

Our God is an awesome God; He reigns from Heaven above with wisdom, power and love

Genesis 1:3-4: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”

The rainbow sits in the clouds; the sun, moon and twinkling stars are the jewels of the sky. We look up to see the light because our light sources generally come from up above, not from down below. In light of certain events, things turn around and may look very different from what we’ve seen the day before. This is why we don’t give up hope: the upcoming day hasn’t happened just yet. Besides, being hopeless is never a good idea.

There are physical light sources, as mentioned above, and there is a spiritual light source. I believe that all light originates from the Trinity. God is light. He lights up the deepest darkness by bringing both physical and spiritual light into the world. Darkness does not bring about life and growth at all. That’s what light does. Light reveals while darkness keeps things hidden. Darkness does not have to be created. Darkness just is and represents the places where God is absent. Wherever God dwells, however, there is light.

When sunlight strikes a falling drop of water, it is refracted and creates beautiful rainbow colors. Life without light is not only dark, it’s colorless. If we look for the subtle differences in color and hues, then we definitely need light.

In the world of photography it’s a commonly known fact that we owe depth perception and texture of two-dimensional images to the presence of shade in the picture. Darkness and light in tandem actually work as a great couple. The benefit of God’s separating light from the darkness is that we can differentiate form and texture of all the things we see.

There is no reason to believe that we don’t need darkness at all. We welcome the nightfall at the end of a long working day. We all need a break. However, imagine there is no morning and the nightfall never ends. Darkness is only a blessing when we rest in the expressed hope that dusk is followed by dawn. If we stick with darkness too long, depression settles in. Darkness is not our friend, the Light of the World is.

Heaven is where we are headed when we keep looking for the Light of the World. We need to keep Jesus in our minds when darkness approaches. He emits light when darkness surrounds us. He is our GPS guiding us through confusing times. He is the reason why we are not losing it when all seems lost.

We can always count on God. He’ll never leave us out there in the rain. Looking up when we are rained upon, let’s remember Him – and guess what? We won’t feel forgotten in the process!

“If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall, I will catch you, I will be waiting
Time after time” Cyndi Lauper

Isaiah 26:4: “Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.”

On the road of experience accidents are bound to happen – hopefully more happy accidents than bad ones – and yet whatever comes our way, it’s a good idea to take the time to sort through things. Not everything happens for a reason. Your birthday cake that slid off the plate and plunged down to the floor is not necessarily a bad omen for the year to come. But some things are waiting to get our attention, and we won’t notice, unless we slow down.

Ironically, if we are in the habit of rushing through life we’re not gaining time, we’re losing time. Not only could we create a bad accident putting us on hold, we are also missing out on what could have been, had we only slowed down a little bit.

Slowing down has become a lost art. We stopped walking in the pursuit of flying to get to places quicker, to get more things done. As a result, a whirlwind of activities with the force of a Hurricane is moving through our lives. Yesterday we were kids waiting with baited breath for Christmas morning. Today we are adults and before we know it, the first signs of aging begin to show up. If we haven’t learnt to slow down by then, aging will teach us a salty lesson.

I’m preaching to myself of course! Always pushing to advance to new horizons I got a lot done, but I also missed out on things important to me; I didn’t give myself the chance to settle down and have children. For a woman the proverbial biological clock is very real. I ran into that clock, and that clock outran me. However, I’m not beating myself up over a missed opportunity either. I have grieved over it, but I have also learnt a few lessons from it. One lesson for me is this: People are more important than things. I found that taking time for people is no lost time and making memories is a very rewarding activity.

Norman Milton Lear (born July 27, 1922), an American television writer and producer once said in an interview:

“How can you be jaded? Tomorrow hasn’t happened yet.”

In other words, the full scope of reality always escapes us. Unless we know the future, we just don’t have the full picture. God being the Creator of time, we are well-advised to put our time into His hands. Call on Him! Seek Him out! Drop everything if necessary. Declare a “Time Out” – whatever it takes to have this special moment with the Almighty. He will expertly guide us through each day.

Trust in the Lord! Nobody knows what tomorrow brings, but knowing the One who holds our future we all stand a better chance to be at peace.

“Slow down, you move to fast. You got to make the morning last!” Paul Simon

Proverbs 29:25: “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.”

Why is it so dangerous to fall into a trap? If we could interview a rat, the answer would be: “It’s deadly!” Fearing people is dangerous, because when fear grips us it traps us. And when we’re trapped, we’re stuck. We are not going anywhere. People should not have that kind of power over us. In fact, God did not create people that way.

In the beginning, Adam was very much on his own. The second person that came into being was taken from his rib. Eve was part of him and as such part of mankind; so is every person born ever since. Mankind is connected and functions just like an organism and is also prone to sickness and disease.

One of the diseases known to man is the autoimmune disease. A body attacks itself. It sees a part of the body as a disease and tries to combat it; in a manner of speaking, this is exactly what we see happening in genocide: humankind kills a part of itself.

On a much smaller scale, fearing people is a derivative of the autoimmune disease, because in fear we combat our own kind. This is so wrong! We should not be afraid of each other. We should love and respect each other. That’s how mankind was wired initially. However, we all realize that this is much easier said than done, especially when we are already stuck in the trap of fear and disillusionment.

Jesus has set a precedent in His way with people. He loves each and every person, but He hates the effects of the autoimmune disease. Here is what He once said in a public statement (Matthew 23:37):

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

All of humanity – not just Jerusalem – suffers from self-inflicted pain. Jesus offers us refuge under His wings. Indeed, under His wings we are at a much better place! No longer ruled by fear, we can deal with whatever comes our way. Most importantly, we are set free to love.

Fear is never the answer. Love is.

Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

First things first; secondary things second – which is secondary here? Matthew is referring to bills to be paid and food on the table, things of that nature usually claiming our prime attention. We all need a roof over our heads, clothes to wear and food on the table. Once our basic needs are covered we turn our attention to something else, or so we think. How much food is enough? What type of roof will do? And which clothes fit us well? Before we know it, all we do is taking care of our basic needs.

God’s approach to turn things around and let His Kingdom stuff be first and our basic needs second makes more sense if we think about it this way: Let Him take care of our basic needs so we can focus on the more interesting stuff: people; this world around us; our friendship with God.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s sometimes hard not to worry. Bills are like unwanted relatives, they stick to our shoes like gum. It’s that element of trust, however, that makes all the difference. And in an awesome way, trusting God sets us free. We are not just stuck paying bills. We can actually venture out and do something meaningful.

By the way, the lifestyle of worrying does not add a single hour to our lives. If anything, worrying most likely shortens our lifespan. Worrying is unproductive, self-centered and makes us sick; trusting the Lord on the other hand frees us up to live productive lives that touch other people.

After some debate, my husband and I decided to relinquish one of us from bringing home a regular paycheck. Effective October 1, 2018, I became self-employed. With 50% of our income gone it was a huge step of faith for both of us. Meanwhile, I’ve created a client base for music entertainment, specifically Memory Care facilities. To boost their memory, I’ve been singing old familiar songs to the patients. One of them is “Don’t worry, be happy” by Robert Jr. McFerrin.

“Ain’t got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
Don’t worry, be happy”

It seems, the only thing left to worry about in the last stages of our lives is to have a bed to sleep in. If the bed is taken away, what else is left? Well, here is the thing: We can hold on to worrying until we take our last breath, or we can let go and let God. The choice is entirely ours.

Hebrews 10:30-31: “For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

For all who think that revenge brings satisfaction of justice being served, let me burst your bubble: Taking revenge holds no blessing whatsoever. Payback time is a time of horror leaving destruction in its wake. It makes a new beginning impossible and therefore squanders all hope.

The sad truth is, revenge brings nothing but gloom, doom and death. And to make matters worse, revenge does not end a bad situation once and for all. Quite the opposite! Revenge heaps up more revenge. There is no peace to be found in paying back. Nobody gets what he or she deserves. In the end, we all overpay if we keep going down this route.

In His infinite wisdom God once said: “Leave revenge up to Me”. In other words: “Don’t go there!”

And yet, humanly speaking it’s hard to let go of the pursuit of revenge when we have tasted abuse, neglect, violation of basic rights, even murder. “What are we supposed to do! Just sit there and do nothing?” is the outcry of the bullied, the ones taken advantage of, the people trampled upon. The cry for justice is the most basic human cry for relief. And justice we need, but the way to justice and peace is not by way of revenge.

Here is one thing that distorts our vision once we’ve gotten onto the bandwagon of retaliation: The world bleeds out its color and we see everything in black and white. We are right, and the other party is wrong. We forget that we are not perfect either.

God warns us not to fall into the trap of self-righteousness. He shows us what mercy brings to the table. Unlike revenge, mercy opens the door to a fresh new beginning. Debt cancellation is unfair, isn’t it? Apparently, we let someone get away with something. It’s undeserved. It’s outrageous. Well, yes – God’s mercy is outrageous, but because of God’s mercy we are all still here.

Granted, without our criminal justice system there’d be anarchy. We need to pursue justice when rights have been violated. However, let’s not forget that this system we so heavily rely on functions as a Band-Aid and works only to a degree. The criminal justice system does not change people. Love alone is a true change agent making impossible things possible. Love and mercy have brought us to the doorsteps of heaven. No chance in hell to get there through the pursuit of justice and revenge.

God knows, there is no salvation in condemnation, but there is precious hope in mercy.