Many people are so discouraged by one experience after another. Others are hurting with disconcerting and constant physical pain. Such people obviously feel bad. The perspective of the Bible informs us that suffering, in its various expressions, is the consequential experience of having to live in this sinful “present world system,” which is authored, inspired, and driven by evil. Satanic oppression is a real and definite factor when feeling bad.
It is clear that God does not instigate pain and suffering regardless of what questions or accusations we level at Him. Unfortunately, the bad-feeling sufferers turn a deaf ear to the encouragement of God. They also turn away from having faith in God for eventual deliverance.
The mindset of Israel just before the Exodus reflects this consideration. God through Moses reminded Israel of God’s gracious intentions concerning them. Deliverance from their present suffering and persecution was eminent. However, they refused to listen to the words of hope.
The reason is stated, “They hearkened not unto Moses because of their anguish of spirit…” In other words, they felt so bad emotionally and physically that they did not want to consider their special status with God. Rather, it was their perceived hopelessness that captivated their daily vision. “Anguish of spirit” amounted to an “attitude of defeat,” as it does us at times.
This leads to interesting questions: what do you do when you feel this bad? Where is God when you feel bad?
A recent letter from an acquaintance cited a litany of things with which the family had to deal. Among the many serious concerns, the worst thing to come up was that one of their children was diagnosed with a dreadful disease. “It was a muddled ball of shadowy chaos,” they described.
And then they wrote, “Bet you are wondering if I asked, ‘Where is God in all this?’ Your bet would be a good one. It is all that I have asked: ‘God — where are you?’”
What should we do when our spirit of anguish spews the question, “God — where are you?” There are some spiritual strategies to activate.
First, simply just wait on God. Wait on Him spiritually and emotionally. Go into wait-mode. Why wait? To begin with, there is usually nothing we can do about adverse circumstances ourselves. And, furthermore, think of waiting in terms of activity under control while simultaneously remembering the benefit of waiting as suggested by Scripture, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” God ministers dynamically to those who are proactive in waiting.
Second, continue to worship God. Worship of God in faith amounts to an upward look. If one looks up in worship, they cannot look out at the intimidation of outward circumstances. If one looks up in worship, they cannot look down with thoughts of self-pity. If one looks up in worship, they cannot look behind to the past for comparisons why it seems God is not in the present. If one looks up in worship, faith dynamically dims the effect of feeling bad.
The writer said, “Where was God when my eyes were downward-cast by the veil of fear, exhaustion, and anger? (He was) Right in front of me, begging me to look up into His face of glory so that my gaze on Him would lead me through the darkest valley I have ever experienced.”
But, a third factor is also noted: remained filled with wonder of God. Someone once said, “He who can no longer be in awe of God is as good as dead.” Despite times when you feel bad, keep the wonder of God in heart, mind, and soul, for it becomes uplifting to the heart, mind, and soul. The wonder of God is inspirational. The wonder of God’s power is assuring.
Feel bad? Practice the principles.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.