Scripture: "Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!" Job 23:3
(Preached at Wattisham Baptist Chapel by Rev. Ivan Foster)
For the child of God, our religion centres upon the person of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the person referred to by Job as the object of his search. Have you come looking for Jesus this morning? "Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?" Song of Sol 3:3. This is the cry the child of God in a time of shadow utters. "By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not," Song of Solomon 3:1.
The world knows nothing of this desire, this passion. For this reason it believes those possessed of it are quite mad. "Thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad," Acts 26:24.
Indeed, it is not unknown for earnest, seeking believers to be looked upon askance by other believers who do not share their anxiety of soul!
We recall the view taken of Mary's devotions in John 12:1-8.
In times of affliction our desire for Christ intensifies. The more we require Him the more we desire Him. The hypocrite denounces God when he feels troubled. The believer seeks unto God all the more in trouble.
I. THE BELIEVER MAY LOSE THE SENSE OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE
The Lord has promised never to leave His people. "He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," Hebrews 13:5. However, we may lose the consciousness of His presence. Rev 3:20 demonstrates that!
1. It is sin which deprives us of the consciousness of Christ. "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear, Isaiah 59:2. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me," Psalm 66:18 "I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early," Hosea 5:15.
2. His presence, if it be withdrawn, is for our good. We would not use the means of grace as we ought if we never felt a longing after Christ. We will not drink until thirst prompts us. We would not read the Bible, we would not pray, we would not attend upon the preaching of the Word. It is to excite our spiritual desires and appetites that the Lord takes from us the comforts of His presence.
3. His presence is withdrawn in order to remind us of our dependence upon Him. It is a bitter thing to Christ when He is taken for granted by His people. Yet we do slip into such a mindset! "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked," Revelation 3:17.
We soon learn our own emptiness and our ignorance when we feel the absence of Christ. Nothing can make up that loss.
II. SUCH A LOSS IS A GREAT DISTRESS TO THE BELIEVER
Yet we can find comfort in this distress. Does it not denote that:--
1. He is our all. "For to me to live is Christ," Philippians 1:21. He is our companion and our comfort. We would feel less pain were we to lose an arm or a leg. We can recover somewhat from the loss of our nearest and dearest but there is no recovery from this loss.
2. Grace is at work in our hearts. This is no natural desire. Did not Adam hide from the Lord, Gen 3:8. Man's natural inclination is described by Isaiah. "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not," Isaiah 53:3.
III. THE ONLY MEANS OF RELIEF IS TO SEARCH UNTIL WE FIND HIM
We shall find Him when we shall search for Him with all our heart, Jer 29:13.
We must search where we may expect to find Him.
1. In the Word of God. "Search the scriptures; for . . . they are they which testify of me," John 5:39.
2. In the place of prayer. "In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me," Psalms 86:7.
3. In the place of public worship. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," Matthew 18:20.
We shall find Him for bear this in mind, He is searching for you with a greater desire and diligence than that in your heart. Let our thoughts be filled with Him and our hearts with love for Him and we shall find Him for He has said, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him," John 14:21.