Links Daily Devotional

In the Meantime, Part 1: God’s Apparent Absence

“And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’” (Matthew 11:6, NLT)

Several years ago, when I was trying to play as a professional and earn status on a major tour, I entered the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. This is no small investment. The travel and registration add up to several thousand dollars.

On the tenth hole of the first round, when I was already not off to a great start, I hit my ball through the dogleg into the edge of the desert area. As we were looking for the ball, one of my playing competitors said, “Here it is! Titleist 3?”

“With a green dot?” I asked.

“Yep.”

So, I proceeded to punch it out of the bush and play on until I realized up by the green that it was not my ball and reported it to my group.

Unbelievably, though it was the same make and number and even color marking as my ball, the green marking was different than what I was using to mark and identify my balls. So, after a long walk back to the tee, I then completed the hole with another golf ball and recorded a 10 on the hole. My legitimate chance to move on through the qualifying process had pretty much ended, and I was only halfway through the first round of four rounds of a three-stage tournament that I had spent thousands of dollars to play in. My only choice was to just keep playing the rest of that stage the best I could, even though I knew there was no real point in continuing because I’d never achieve what I set out to accomplish.

That’s just a sad golf story, but a lot of us have life stories with similar themes. Things are not going the way we expected and we feel like nothing good can possibly come out of what we are going through. You may even believe you will never be happy again or that life is really not worth continuing—at least not without heavy use of certain substances or unhealthy pursuits. Maybe your present situation has caused you to really question God, because God could have done something about this and he hasn’t!

I understand, and so does God. Did you know that Jesus addressed your very situation with compassion and understanding as well? He knew it was hard, just as it was for his cousin John (the Baptizer), when he was put in prison. The man who baptized, publically introduced, and announced Jesus as the one promised from Scripture was arrested and thrown in prison, and God didn’t do anything about it! Not only did he not do anything about it, Jesus went to the beach after he heard the news (Matthew 4:12-17). It wasn’t necessarily because Jesus was going on vacation that he was going to the Sea of Galilee, but rather because he was going to fulfill a bigger purpose and plan that God had in store for all of mankind, including John.

What a lot of people miss about this story is that over a year later (in Matthew 11), John sent some of his followers to ask Jesus if he was really the Messiah. After this amount of time in prison, the faith and great conviction that introduced Jesus was really struggling. Jesus didn’t hurl insults back at John for this questioning; instead, he praised him as the greatest man who had ever lived (Matthew 11:11), and he offered some incredible words of encouragement in verse 6 for John—and for you and me in our present suffering: “God blesses those who do not turn away because of [his apparent absence].”

If you or a loved one are struggling right now in an area of life that looks never to get better, it may appear that God is missing from the scene. May you be emboldened by the words of an understanding God who wants you to know that his silence does not equate to his absence or apathy. He cares; he just may be up to something bigger than you are looking for!

Josh Nelson
September 25, 2014
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.