Why do You stand far off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?–Psalm 10

I heard a sermon recently in which the preacher talked about all the godless cities in the United States, and he listed them by name. His comments struck a nerve within me. I jotted down on a piece of paper, “Can there really be any places where God is not?”

It certainly feels that way sometimes. When we read the newspaper headlines. When bad test results come back from the doctor. When a relationship is broken beyond repair. When tragedy strikes. When life just seems like one giant mess.

It must have felt that way to the psalmist when he wrote, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (10:1) Looking at the circumstances of our lives and the world around us, it is easy to think that sometimes God has just disappeared into the background.

But that is not the message we read in scripture. Instead, all throughout the Bible, we see a God who pursues us and finds us wherever we are . . . even in the messiest of situations.

God finds…

Hagar in the wilderness,

Joseph in a pit,

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace,

Daniel in the lion’s den,

Moses in a basket floating down the river,

Jonah in the belly of a whale,

and Rahab in the city walls of Jericho.

In verse 14 of Psalm 10, the psalmist discovers and proclaims, “[God] does see!” The psalmist then echoes the words of Hagar, who gives God the name El-Roi, meaning “the God who sees me” (Gen. 16:13). God does see us, no matter where we are. Regardless of the circumstances that got us there, there is no corner of our lives that God’s not willing to come find us.

But the tricky part is this: we have to want to be found. Taking that first step and inviting God into the messy, hidden places of our lives can be scary. It means taking a risk. Making ourselves vulnerable. And it means believing in faith that the God who seeks us really will find us, no matter what.

“But you do see!  Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands.” (Psalm 10:14)

Mary Alice Birdwhistell is originally from the beautiful state of Kentucky and a graduate of Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. In 2009, she moved to Waco, Texas, to attend George W. Truett Theological Seminary and joined the staff at Calvary Baptist Church as children’s minister. Upon completing her Master of Divinity degree in 2013, Calvary called her to become their associate pastor. Mary Alice now calls Waco home and considers ministry to be the sacred gift of sharing life with a diverse community of people. She loves the color purple, anything chocolate, coffee shop conversations, and Kentucky basketball.