Cliche “Seasons” In The “Desert,” Or Is God Really Faithful (The Answer May Be No)

We have a lot of verses etched on our Bible cover cases reminding us of God’s faithfulness – but what does it really mean?

Few people believe that God isn’t faithful – in a world full of uncertainty and chaos and flakey people it is comforting that God is faithful. It’s the one solid rock we have. Jobs end, friends move, football only goes til January, and even beliefs change – but God is faithful all along.

I think there is another side to the story. Philip Yancey (you may be surprised to discover he’s my favorite author, not Rob Bell) explores the absecence of God frequently in his writings. God is in some ways hidden and removed from us*. Not only that, almost every Christian acknowledges a “season” where we seem to be in the desert and where God withdraws himself to escape further into hiding. And sometimes, when we are alone in our pain and crying out, God’s silence isn’t broken. 

God’s moves are covert. So covert that many don’t see them at all and deny him to their deathbed. Some who don’t even know him may ask for him the best the know how to no avail (you’d think he’d jump at the chance).

And sometimes God leads us into the pits of hell and into deep personal suffering (when you ask? It’s called the New Testament). You’d think that since we’re becoming God’s followers he’d take sparkling good care of us – yet being a Christian is actually about taking up a cross and going into the darkest places of our world. God uses fire. And sometimes people don’t come out alive.

So what does it mean that God is faithful?

Even if God puts us through terrible times for our benefit, going through hell sucks. And being silent when we need him to close, when we need comfort, well it makes the pain all the more searing.

So to the question Is God faithful? yes and no could be an answer. His love, without question, never ceases and his arms are never folded so as to not receive you. But maybe our cute ideas about God are a little more complex – for ours is a mysterious, maybe even elusive God.

We may speak of God being faithful but that doesn’t mean he is constantly serving us soup when we’re cold and sick. God’s love remains strong and unshaken, though God sometimes prolongs his action and rescue and comfort. And that is not as cute as God’s faithfulness, but just as true.

Thanks to Bill for writing his own post that inspired this one (though note I was the one who took it to dark side). 

*David will no doubt have something to say about this, but I think the point still stands.

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16 Responses to Cliche “Seasons” In The “Desert,” Or Is God Really Faithful (The Answer May Be No)

  1. Bernard Shuford says:

    I think you’re like the West Coast version of me. If your mind is somewhat tortured with these kinds of questions, you know what I mean.

  2. It depend on the perspective of his faithfulness. I believe that those times you speak of when it seems that he is not being faithful, that he is in fact doing just that. I have decent perspective with regards to the here and now, but I have poor perspective for those things that exist out of time and space. But I even have limited vision with the here and now. I think of Joseph and how he got dumped in a well, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, and imprisoned. All of this after a dream that his brothers would bow before him. His problems actually started when he told them about this dream. Yet at the end of it all he tells them, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”

    • when people start talking about God existing outside of space and time I also get a little lost. Good example – gotta say having years of such terrible circumstances would likely well up bitterness in me, if I’m honest. I’d be questioning God’s goodness. I’d trust he could turn it all around, but I’d wonder why it would have to take so long and take so many wrong turns.

  3. Charlie: the link will not work. it is http://billgrandi.com Just thought I would let you know. :) Despite what you might think I do agree with your last paragraph. Surprise! I reject the prosperity garbage that promises all things will be good. Pfft!

  4. David says:

    Yes, David has thoughts!

    I have experienced the desert. In the beginning I used to think that it was a dry and barren place. In the end, I found it to be a place teeming with life, life which I had to learn to look for. (faith sees the unseen!) There are lot’s of reasons for God’s silence in a believer’s life. Some of it is our fault, and some of it is the fathering of God who allows us to go off on our own exploring. You’ll see as a parent, there are some mistakes you want your kids to make early on. In that they grow from dependent to interdependent, and then independent. That process should in fact make them dependent on God because they see your faithfulness!

    Christians do not like the idea that there are trials, and most recoil at the thought of brokenness as a spiritual quality. Jesus said that rock would crush some, and others would fall on it and be broken. Those were the choices: crushed or broken, pick one!

    Because Christians are taught that every good gift comes from God (they do!) that a life of blessing is one without any pain, or hardship or trial at all. My kids are freaking out because they have to work full-time jobs now that they are out of college. Poor things. My 7-year-old pitched a fit because she had to set the table or I wouldn’t serve her dinner. Life is not easy, and if you look that word up in the Bible, there is only one verse. Jesus said. “my yoke is easy.” I assume that all others are not.

    You made a lot of statements Charlie, and I simply want to disagree with a few because I believe something else, and more importantly (eventually) I experienced something different.

    “God’s moves are covert.” The deeper our relationship is with God is, the more we hear his voice, and desire Him, the less this is true. Paul said “the mystery of Christ has been revealed.” It has been a long process for guys like me, but as I pressed in (not acting desperately) desiring to know what he wanted, I found Him to be more faithful, and less mysterious.

    “You’d think that since we’re becoming God’s followers he’d take sparkling good care of us -” God is not looking for followers. Jesus needed them in the flesh to pass on the work of the Kingdom after he was gone. God is looking for sons and daughters that call him Abba (daddy) – He wants to adopt us. He is looking to grow his children up to be disciples. By faith Christ lives with in us, and if we let the new man out and the old one die, we will be like Him! Mature children don’t need to be taken care of they need wisdom. They know that God’s great love (and faithfulness) will prevail if they continue to commune with his Spirit.

    I know that you have been following my health condition over at F & G. I suppose that one would think I spend a lot of time asking God to fix me, fix that financial situation that comes with it etc, but I don’t. I know that God is faithful, and he promised to redeem the entire thing. By faith, this isn’t hell for me. In the natural, there is a lot to freak out about!

    To put is all in perspective, I once lived in a welfare motel for few weeks. I had a car accident, and could not work. The insurance companies took their sweet time in getting me some cash. God even spoke to me there.

    I was up praying for you early this morning! :)

    • a fantastic response David. I can definitely understand the deeper you get the more you see how God is constantly moving people toward restoration, even if it means some very un-fun ways to get there. I can definitely see how we’d misconstrue the truth that life is hard with God isn’t faithful.

      I love your thoughts on wanting your children to make mistakes. Man that is a mature parent speaking. I hope I have the courage and the gull to allow my daughter to fall and not swoop her up.

      I love hearing your thoughts on your current health situation and I’m even more excited to hear about the resolving of it all and the redemption. Of course I hope God does it soon I’d rather not wait around for it.

      And thanks David for writing out such a thoughtful response – I read every word and I write so that I can hear other perspectives. And thank you for your prayers, I’m amazed that someone online would care enough to do that.

  5. Su says:

    God serving us up soup. Nice image, but I agree it’s a false one.

    I don’t think God is playing hide-and-seek with his creation. Nor do I agree that God leads us into suffering– we live in a world that has, across the board, actively chosen to reject God. No wonder there’s so much yuck laying around. And Christians aren’t exempt from tripping over it, which sucks. Plus, I often wonder if we don’t see God because we’re not looking in the right place. Not that I have an insider scoop on what the right place actually is.

    So, I think God is faithful, but I’m not sure our expectations of what “faithful” looks like line up with His reality.

    • ultimately I think our definition of God’s faithfulness is a lot different from his. Ours tends to be more hallmark and attentive like a servant at our every need. Being a God who can’t fit totally inside of our minds that’s not possible – he’s a wee bit bigger. Great comment Su!

  6. Larry Hughes says:

    Ok! So we are followers of God ( Jesus). We lay all our problems no matter how trival for Him and He like a good father takes care of our woes. We just sit back and wait for Him to act and save us, then we are shocked when nothing happens or the outcome is not what we expected.

    Hello folks! Our problems although seem insurmountable to us, God did give us some tools to cope with such issues. He gave us all a brain with power to rationalize issues, wisdom, and common sense ( well maybe not all got that part). The trivial he feels we can handle that. Just leave the heavy hitting stuff up to Him.

    I will have to imagine He is a very busy person and getting prayer request to do this or get that might wel be overwhelming to Him. I am not saying we should stop dialing up prayers for help but I would imagine He also likes to hear from one just to say hello or give Him praise. When was the last time one out there just said ” Hello God, I just wanted to thank you for what I do have and I think of you all the time”?

    One denomination that I recently came across expounds on the fact that America is the “New Babylon” and God has abandoned His grace to this nation. The only way to salvation is through their worshiping Jehovah. Perhaps that might be the reason some do not hear from God any more but I doubt it. I just think He is very busy. Patience is not our most quantitive virtue.

    • no, we’re super terrible with patience in the West. That’s why we love drugs. That’s why we love microwaves. That’s why we love the internet.

      Great thoughts on simply being thankful rather than sending a million requests his way – I’ve actually stopped myself from praying recently when I realized I was just dumping wishes on his lap – I want my relationship to God be more than “fix this.”

  7. theoldadam says:

    I believe that God has chosen how it is that He will reveal Himself to us.

    In His Word, preached and written (Bible), and in the Sacraments (“this IS my body, this IS my blood…”)

    and in the consolation of believers, one to another, encouraging each other in Christ Jesus.

    Other than that, I do believe He pretty much stays hidden.

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