God’s “dreadful withdrawal”

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By Dave Henning / November 29, 2012

Tullian Tchividjian discusses what the Puritans used to call “God’s dreadful withdrawal” in Chapter 8 (“Weighty Mercies”) of Glorious Ruin.  He notes that some Biblical commentators become exasperated with the book of Job because it seems to go on and on and on.  Yes, Pastor Tchividjian states, Job does go on and on and on, with no definitive answers, because that’s precisely how many of us experience suffering in real life.  What caused Job so much pain was the fact that he never doubted that God was in absolute control.

Pastor Tchividjian adds that when God does pull away from His children- His “dreadful withdrawal”- we find ourselves desperately crying out to God.  The key is whether our crying out is a lament or a complaint.  The author describes the distinction between the two: “Lamenting is a cry for God; complaining is a cry against God.”  In our problems, God intends to demonstrate His sufficiency.

William Cowper was an 18th century hymnist and poet who suffered from chronic depression and attempted suicide 3 times.  After one of his failed attempts, he wrote the hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” (LSB 765).  Verse 5 provides special comfort and encouragement:

“You fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds you so much dread

Are big with mercy and will break

In blessings on your head.”

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Dave Henning

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