I have often said to my kids that I have the power of invisibility. It is not a superpower but something quite horrid. I have lost count how many times I have been walked into as if I haven’t been seen. My children often refuse to walk beside me in busy places because then they get stepped on too … I can obviously transfer this ability if they stand too close. This has become a bit of a running joke, that and how short I am compared most of them. It usually is funny, but sometimes this then plays out in how I feel about me. Am I invisible? Why can’t I be seen? Why do I get stamped on?
I know the truth that I am seen – but the “reality” seems much more real!
8 ‘But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. Job 23:8-9
‘He’s not there, I do not find him, I do not see him, I catch no glimpse of him.’ Have you ever had times like this? We know that GOD never leaves us yet we can’t find Him. It is either Him or us that has become invisible. We know that He is over all things yet there seems no sign of His hand at work in our circumstance. Job was suffering. He was grieving the loss of his family, his workers, his business and his health. Everything that could go wrong had. Looking for GOD when you are in this dark place can feel fruitless because there appears to be no evidence of a good GOD. But Job can help us. When we look at Job’s statements we can see a helpful process of thought.
Job starts by saying that when he goes to the east and west GOD is not found. That is often our first thoughts when we encounter suffering, hardship or pain. “Where are you GOD?” is a plea that we throw out to the darkness. We can’t feel His reassuring presence or understand why this stuff happens. I’ve been in places when it feels like He is absent or that I am invisible.
Job then takes us to the next step where there is a slight change. Job acknowledges that GOD is at work, he just can’t comprehend it. “When He is at work …” Job knows GOD is working (all things for good – Romans 8:28) but he just can’t see it yet, not even a glimpse. I know I have been in this place too. I have to give up my trying to get to grips with the whys and whats and know that He is GOD. I may not see Him but I know He is there. He is the same GOD of Psalm 139, the one who knows me and never leaves me.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,’
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139:7-12
We cannot escape GOD’s presence so it is only our feelings and emotions that are telling us something contrary to the truth. So this place of feeling invisible to GOD has to be brought in line with what is actually reality – GOD is always present, always all-powerful, always loving, always King. It becomes a battle for our mind as we are instructed to take every thought captive that does not align with GOD’s word.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
How do we do this? We put to one side the “feelings”, not disregarding them but not letting them rule. Instead we look again and see the truth. We see the times that GOD has been faithful in our lifetime and through Jesus, we search and seek out where GOD is (His word, His Church …), we make the decision to see him in everything. Unlike Job, we do know where we can find Him and be with Him in His dwelling place (Job 23:3). Here is here, right now and if you are in relationship with Him, He dwells in you! You are not invisible! There is a choice as to which path you walk – one of despair or one of hope.
I love that these few verses end with the ultimate encouragement. Job has had his faith rise in him and even though he doesn’t understand he makes an incredible statement of truth.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. Job 23:10
GOD knows your paths you walk; the paths that will test your faith, endurance and relationship with Him. But you shall come forth as gold by walking the path that GOD has set before you … not just a little bit shiny or glittery, but as gold. Gold that has been refined, gold that has impurity removed, gold that is valuable and is ready to be a crown or ring. It is a statement of truth, if we can see, find and pursue GOD through those tough times and push through what our feelings will claim as false reality, we will come forth as gold. Not only will the appearance of our souls be changed but our spiritual DNA will be transformed too.