Psalm 44:24 Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
Recently I travelled to London to catch up with an old friend. We had not seen each other in quite while. The busyness of our lives, the pace of work makes it hard for us to meet up. There are some friendships which are so wonderful that no matter how long it has been you can just catch up and start the conversation right where you left it all those months ago.
So it is with God, his omnipresence is such that there is no place where we can go that he is not already there. And yet sometimes He feels distant. When Scripture uses the term “face” to refer to God’s presence, it is not implying that God has somehow left the conversation. There is that beautiful verse reminding of God’s favored presence, “May the Lord bless you and keep you and cause his face to shine upon you.” There is something about seeing a friends face and smile that makes the effort of meeting up worth it.
Seeing someone’s face is asking for a unique and special way of interacting. During Lent some Christians give things up. But what is the absence all about? The absence is designed to remind of the presence. Sometimes it feels like God may be far away.
Speak to the absent God about his absence. That is what this Psalmist is doing. Tell him how much you miss Him. Speak to him about His silence. There is nothing that turns a friends face towards you as when you speak of their heart-felt absence.
On the tree so many years ago, Jesus spoke of this absence. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” His prayer to the absent God about His absence had the most wondrous effect: God’s face is now forever turned towards us.