The Loved One Absent
James Smith, 1860
"Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" Job 23:3
The believer's happiness consists very much in the presence of God, and a sense of his love. His happiness is not in place, or circumstances, or friends — but in God himself as revealed in Jesus. Anywhere, at any time, in any condition, alone or in any company — we can be happy if we realize that God is present, and can enter into communion with him.
It is very commonly the case, that at conversion, believers are indulged with much of the sweet and sensible presence of God — so that they walk, in the light of his countenance, and cast every care upon him. But often, for wise reasons, though unknown to us — God hides his face from us, and requires us to follow him in the dark — walking by faith, and not by sight. This was pretty much the case with Job, when he cried so plaintively, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!"
In such seasons as this, there is often much darkness of soul, and the Lord Jesus is lost sight of. We feel that we are at a distance from the object of our love, trust, and confidence. Then, too, our sins are apt to stare us in the face, or lie like a burden on our consciences! From this, arises a fear of wrath, and painful anticipations of the displeasure of God. Past mercies and comforts crowd around us — only as if to aggravate our woe; and the recollection of the privileges we once enjoyed — appear to torment us so much the more. Our duties now become irksome, our prayers seem to be unheard — and we think that the Lord has become inattentive to our cries. Like the prophet, we feel as if he had hedged up our way with stone, or compassed us with thorns, so that we cannot escape from our gloom, or obtain a glimpse of our father's love!
To a quickened soul, one who has been living near to God, and walking closely with God — such a state is fearful. Only a true Christian knows what it is, and he finds it very difficult to represent, or set it forth. To be without our God — is to be without . . .
the light of our eyes,
the joy of our hearts,
the life our souls.
No wonder then, if a Christian in such a state cries out in bitterness of spirit, "Oh, that I knew where I might find him!"
The desire of the soul is at once strong and fixed. I want to find, not merely my lost comfort — but the source of it; not a blessing in the general — but the presence of my beloved. "Oh, that I could find HIM!" To find him — I would go anywhere. To find him — I would suffer anything. To find him — I would do anything. Without his presence . . .
I can never be happy;
I can never be satisfied;
I shall never find my soul at peace.
Without his presence . . .
I visit the sanctuary in vain;
I read the Word without profit;
I pray and praise — but find neither relief or pleasure.
"Oh, that I could find Him!"
I would frankly confess my ingratitude and guilt!
I would show him my trouble and distress!
I would reason and plead with him!
I would tell my sorrows, acknowledge my faults, and inquire the reason why he hides himself from me.
I would beseech him to turn again and have compassion upon me.
I would plead his name, his promise, and his love — that he might once more indulge me, and favor me with his presence!
Reader, are you a stranger to such experience as this? Very few, if any, who are taught by the Spirit are. They know what the presence of God is. They know what the smile of God means. They know too, what it is to be left alone — alone in the closet, alone in the sanctuary, and alone in the world. For without the Lord's presence, no one feels more lonely than a believer. Nothing satisfies him. Nothing makes him happy. He feels so far weaned from everything here, that without God — the world is a blank, and friends not much better than a desert.
Real religion always centers in God, feasts on God, and is satisfied with God alone. The teachings of the Holy Spirit brings us away from other sources of peace and satisfaction — to God alone. And in God, as made known in Jesus — we find . . .
all we want,
all we wish,
all we can enjoy!
"You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand." Psalm 16:11. Oh, blessed thought! Having been brought to set our hearts on God, to find our happiness in God — soon, very soon, we shall enjoy His perfect, perpetual presence; and shall never more sigh, or cry, "Oh, that I knew where I might find HIM!"
"And so we will be with the Lord forever!" 1 Thessalonians 4:17
O that I know the secret place
Where I might find my God!
I'd spread my wants before his face,
And pour my woes abroad!
I'd tell him how my sins arise,
What sorrows I sustain;
How grace decays and comfort dies,
And leaves my heart in pain!
He knows what arguments I'd take
To wrestle with my God;
I'd plead, for his own mercy's sake
And for my Savior's blood.
My God will pity my complaints,
And heal my broken bones;
He takes the meaning of his saints,
The language of their groans.
Arise, my soul, from deep distress,
And banish every fear;
He calls you to his throne of grace
To spread your sorrows there!