Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:7-10, KJV
When the British expositor and teacher, Joseph Parker, saw the suffering his wife endured as she lay dying with cancer, he was perplexed. Yes, he prayed and cried out to the Lord, but day by day, her suffering increased, and finally she lay still. When she died, for a week Parker, according to his own testimony, wallowed in the dark despair of atheism. He said that if he had had a dog who suffered as did the one he loved, he would have put the animal out of its misery.
I thought of Parker's words as I read the comments of a Guidelines friend who wrote, "When my wife was in the hospital, if I could have gotten my hands around God's throat, I would have done my best to choke him." Fortunately, God doesn't seem to take our rebellion too seriously when our reasoning is blinded by sorrow or anger over situations we dislike, situations for which, without cause, we blame God.
When you feel as did our friend, you have three choices: You can turn to God for refuge and comfort, or you can turn can onGod in anger and defiance, or--as did Jonah--you can turn from God, thinking that if you put your back to Him and go the opposite direction you can leave your pain and sorrow behind you.
First, you must note that the silence of God does not preclude or shut out the presence of God. Yes, you would like to see God step in and miraculously eliminate the suffering or pain in your life, or turn around the business deal that has gone sour, or let you sell your house before the mortgagee forecloses on you. But this does not mean God is not with you as you go through the fire, the flood, and the dark valley. Some of our greatest lessons are learned in the darkness.
Second, realize that running from God is an exercise in futility. It didn't work for Jonah, nor will it work for you. David asked, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?" Then he answered his own question, saying, "If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast" (Psalm 139:7-10). There's no escaping from God no matter how far you run or how much you hide.
Jonah's attempt to escape God's love only resulted in a great deal of personal discomfort and unrest. It's strange how the love which God has for you is like a bloodhound that keeps following you, sniffing at your heels until your turn and embrace Him as the wayward prodigal does the father.
There's one more thought that you need to confront. It is this. Rebellion against the Lord only results in an interruption of the flow of grace and blessing which comes from the Father's hand. It's like holding an umbrella over your head which effectively deflects the showers which are intended to enrich your life.
Ignoring God or rebelling against Him never disallows His purpose or will (which ultimately turns your heart back towards Him) but it is a painful, lonely, dark detour through the night.
Though I have never been in the darkness of a well in mid-day, I have heard it said that in a deep well, you can look up and actually see the stars overhead. If we could but see as God sees, how quickly we would turn to Him instead of turning on Him in misunderstanding or turning away from Him to take the path which Jonah took, the dark voyage toward Tarshish.
Resource reading: Jonah 1:1-17