They [the Israelites] tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7, NIV 1984).
My Musings – A fairly incredulous question when you think about. They had seen the plagues that God sent on the Egyptians while sparing them. They witnessed the Lord coming between them and the Egyptian army, when they had their backs to the Red Sea with seemingly no place to flee. They watched as Moses, through the mighty hand of God, parted the Red Sea. While they escaped the entire army of Egypt [the regions superpower], was swallowed up as the sea returned to to its place. When they were hungry, God provided manna to eat. When they were thirsty, God provided water in the desert to drink. Every morning they saw His cloud and every evening they saw His pillar of fire. When these moved, they moved. When these halted, they made camp. “Is the Lord among us or not?”
The better question might be, “why would He not be among us?” When we are feeling particularly distant from God, or feeling that He has left us, rather than asking, “is the Lord among us or not“ ask, “why might He not be among us?” Maybe He is testing you, exercising your faith to take it to the next level. Maybe the timing is not right. Remember, He had to get the Egyptian army close enough in their pursuit that He could simultaneously deliver Israel and take care of their enemy. From that day forward they never had to be looking over their shoulders wondering if the Egyptians might be in pursuit. But if it still feels like He is not among us, the real question is, “who moved?” The prodigal left the father, but the father kept watching for his son’s return (“while he was still a far way off”).
My Advice – Do not ever believe that the Lord has deserted you. For He has said, “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5, NIV 1984).” Elsewhere He has said, “if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, NIV 1984). Think you are “no longer worthy to be called His son [or daughter]?” Think again. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:19–20, NIV 1984). Just open the door.