When you were a kid, did you ever have one of those Where’s Waldo books?
Each page was covered in detailed pictures and somewhere on the page was a picture of this guy named Waldo. The only problem was, he was almost impossible to find.
It seems to me that more often than not we play this game with God. Over and over again I hear people asking some version of this question, “Where is God?”
Where is God?
This question is asked by believers in Jesus all the time when life gets difficult. Many have a crisis of faith. Some even loose their faith. Why? Because as far as they could tell, they couldn’t find God.
They looked long & hard at the picture. But they couldn’t find Him. They couldn’t see Him.
So in their frustration, their anger, their defeat, their disappointment, their feeling of being abandoned… they walked away from believing He was ever there at all.
This question isn’t just asked by believers in the middle of uncertain times, it’s also asked by skeptics. It’s asked by those who don’t believe. In fact, it’s sometimes asked to discourage others from believing in God.
If God doesn’t show up on time to do exactly what we need Him to do the way we want Him to do it then He must not be real.
This is what happens in Psalm 79. The people of God are crying out for the presence of God…
Help us, O God of our salvation!
Help us for the glory of your name.
Save us and forgive our sins
for the honor of your name.
Why should pagan nations be allowed to scoff,
asking, “Where is their God?”
So why is God sometimes hard to find?
Why is that believers in Jesus searching for God have a hard time finding God in the middle of their darkest moments?
Why is that those who don’t believe are “allowed to scoff, asking, “Where is their God?”
I certainly don’t have all the answers for these questions or the room here to begin to give an answer that would satisfy, but…
What would it have been like for you as a kid if you had gotten a brand new Where’s Waldo book as a gift. You open the book eager to begin the fun looking for Waldo on every page. Except, as you turn to the first page you realize that something is very, very wrong.
On every single page, someone has already found Waldo and circled his picture with a big red marker!
You put the book down and walk away mad that someone has ruined the book & ruin the fun for you.
Where’s the joy in finding Waldo when he’s already been found and circled!
Here’s my thought, part of the journey of faith is in the searching for God. It’s looking long & hard to discover where He is in the picture. And in my experience, it’s often not until weeks, months or years later that He can be found.
What I’ve discovered over and over again is that, for so many people, searching for God in our struggles provides the meaning.
In fact, your faith probably became YOUR FAITH as a result of your searching. When you found God in the struggle you found faith.
But what if someone were to walk into your life and show you all the places & ways God has been at work. At first thought, that would be so amazing & so cool. And we certainly do need people to help us discern & see where & how God is at work.
But there is no substitute for the searching, for you & I taking the time in prayer & in long thought to contemplate where God is & how He is moving & where He is working. And when we do, more often than not, we’ll find Him. And when we find Him, we find faith.
Jeremiah 29.11 probably gets misquoted too much, but just considering the immediate context, you catch a glimpse of the context & you also see a powerful promise from God:
_This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”_
The Lord tells the people that they will be in captivity for 70 years! Talk about getting some bad news. But there is good news on the horizon. God will deliver His people for their benefit & His glory. And in the middle of it all God reveals this truth… If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.
If you’re looking for God but you’re not sure where He is, let me encourage you today to keep looking. He has promised that if you search for Him, you will find Him.
The truth is, even when you can see Him, He’s closer than you think. He’s always near. His very name, Emmanuel, means “with.”
So take heart. We have a God who can be found. And when you find Him, if you want to draw a circle around Him in that moment so you can remember where HE was when you needed Him most, that’s ok. You can do that. Remembering how God has been faithful in the past gives us faith in the present for the future.
And You won’t ruin the searching for the rest of us. In fact, your circles may help others find God in their own pictures.
So keep looking.
He is there.
By the way, I still haven’t found Waldo in the picture above. I’m still searching.
I serve as the Preaching Minister at Riverside Church of Christ in Coppell, TX. I enjoy sports, running, fishing & life with the family. I’ve been in ministry since 1999. My wife Alisha & I have three amazing children, Will, Ella Grace & Emma Love. Thanks for stopping by my blog.