“But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them.” 2 Ch. 15:4
Would the Israelites in Judah have turned to the Lord had they not been in great distress? Probably not. “Men tend to cry out to the heavens when they are in distress,” goes an old Chinese saying. Indeed, “there are no atheists in fox holes.” There was obviously a good reason behind the thinking of the criminal who was crucified next to Jesus uttering his prayer in sheer desperation. Of course, it was a petition of faith as well.
Why wait until we are in distress to seek the Lord? Doesn’t joy in life cause us to turn to the Lord as well as sorrow? In fact, the urge to turn to the Lord in thanksgiving is far stronger for me than to make an urgent petition to him when I am in trouble. Joy seems to do a much better job reminding me of the Lord than sorrow does. I am entirely numb in suffering, yet every nerve of my body is wide awake when I am overcome by joy and I am more than ready to give God thanks for all his goodness.
If joy in life does the trick, why is it even necessary for him to bring sorrow my way to remind me of his presence? I often wonder.
I have often considered that joy in life is far more constant than sorrow; therefore we can easily see the face of the Lord through its spectrum. We are doomed if suffering becomes a necessary condition by which we see the appearance of the Lord. If so, what we see is merely an angry face, from which we only encounter God’s wrath, not love.
Our Abba Father in heaven does often smile on us, doesn’t he?
“But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them.”
May the Lord be our first option, not our last resort; the first one we turn to in gratitude, not the last one we seek in utter desperation.
If we fail to cultivate a habit of turning to the Lord in thanksgiving for all the good things in life, we may not have the desire to seek him when we really need him. Faith in God takes practice and so does the habit of trusting him. We turn to the ones we trust the most for help when we are in distress; and the thought of asking a stranger for assistance makes us cringe, doesn’t it.
Is the Lord merely a God of emergency whom we seek during the rare occasions when we are desperate? Or is he a God of all occasions, both in joy and in sorrow, and he is nearer to us than our own every heartbeat and closer to us than every breath that we take.
How often are we in serious distress, really? If we only seek the Lord when we are in grave trouble, we may never seek him at all. Besides, does God exist merely for urgent occasions and to meet our critical needs?