Have you ever felt forsaken?
I sure have. I’ve doubted God and even wondered if He really exists. I’ve become angry and cursed His name when my prayers were not answered (or more truthfully, when I didn’t like the answer). I’ve walked through many a valley and spent seasons in the spiritual desert. As far as I was concerned, God had let me down.
Wait, I hear the Christian RAP club … Hit it guys,
Yo dear brother, God can never let you down.
Just keep on waiting and He’ll surly come around
I see miracles ahead, around the next bend
Keep believing till’ the very end
Seek the lord while he can be found
And all of your problems will soon leave town
Bravo! Well played.
But, I’ve heard all that before.
For the record, I agree, no matter how impossible my problems seem to me, ” …Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27b) The power of the almighty can still heal the woes of mankind today. But knowing the truth does not mean that we will never feel abandoned.
Tell me, what happens when you are sitting at lunch with someone who looks you straight in the eye, struggling to hold back tears, and they say,
“I love God. I go to church and I even tithe. I talk to the Lord regularly about the things that weigh heavy on me. In my prayers, I ask … I seek … I knock. Then I wait and wait and wait some more. In the end, God remains silent. He takes no action that I can see. Instead, the awful often happens. I am hurt and angry. I don’t understand why he chooses not do things that seem so clearly right to me. Why doesn’t God keep His word like the preacher said He would? What happened to all those exceeding great and precious promises that I read about in His book?” I’m confused and empty inside. God has forsaken me.
Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. – Bono
Clearly this is a sincere human being who is very disillusioned. From where he sits, it feels like God has left the building. And he is not alone.
- “Why did I pray so intently for my husband’s healing … and he died?”
- “Why did I ask God for a child for twenty years … but I never conceived?”
- “Why didn’t the Lord help me raise the money to save my home?
- “If God is so good, why is His world so miserable and unhappy?”
There are no easy answers to any of these questions or countless others like them. And please, spare us all those well-ordered one liners from your promise box. They may be true, but rarely helpful at moments like these.
The raw concerns of real life are painful to confront. It’s easier to suffer in silence. So, we live under the pretense that everything is going to be just fine. We keep telling ourselves, “God is going to make all this crummy stuff disappear one day soon and everything will be much better”.
What happens when “someday soon” never seems to come?
Hiding your hurt, anger, and disappointment behind facades of God-speak and perfunctory piety is poison to the soul. Your spirit slowly fills with a contagion that destroys your genuine faith in God.
If perception is your reality, then I might as well just say it; from where some of you sit right now, it sure appears that God has let you down.
But here is what I believe; it’s your expectations that have been dashed upon the rocks of disappointment. And now, it’s hard to navigate the waves of this life with a faith that has run aground.
Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations. – Earl Nightingale
Unconsciously, we absorb many erroneous and unconfirmed “facts” about God in the course of a lifetime. We read books about what He (supposedly) has promised to do for us when we pray. All of the sermons, seminars and a million casual conversations have molded our interpretation of what we can expect from Him. Some of these expectations are spot-on. Some are not. The trouble begins when things don’t go the way we believe they should. We can feel deceived. And over time, our faith grows weaker.
Unfulfilled expectations are worse than low expectations. It is okay if you sometimes feel like God has grown silent and even turned away. In reality, He has not. I know this because He so plainly promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).
But that is not how you feel right now.
Listen, take a deep breath. Cry if it helps. Curse out loud if it will make you feel better. But please, do me this favor, listen carefully as I reiterate some important spiritual realities.
- Prayer isn’t a mystical process for getting things to go your way.
- Prayer isn’t a guarantee of satisfaction.
- Pain and struggle cannot be removed with simple requests.
- As a rule, God doesn’t wave supernatural wands and instantly change things.
- God exists outside of our time dimension and, because we are chained to the ticking of the clock, He will often seem to move agonizingly slow.
- Life isn’t fair and you cannot change that.
My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am. – Brennan Manning
It brings me great comfort to know that the Liberator of mankind had human feelings too. The creator of all things (GOD) took human form and appeared on earth as the Nazarene. Jesus became one with the damned so that we could be free from the damnation. Human hatred toward the message Jesus came to deliver turned to false accusation and indefensible murder. As Jesus hung on the executioners cross, our brokenness reached deep within His spirit. Creation was now within the dying heart of her creator. Gasping out his final human breaths the Savior cries,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46)
The creator of all things (GOD) forsook Jesus as he died a criminal’s death. Elohim – the Creator and Judge of the universe – turned away as Jesus experienced our hell, and felt the wrath of the Almighty toward this lost and doomed world. For a few horrific moments, He experienced a total disconnect from the source of true life so that we would no longer have to live in that state of separation.
And then, placing His spirit into the hands of the Father, the physical Jesus died. In that solemn, sacred, blessed moment, every struggle, every valley, every circumstance of human existence was corrected and justified.
Welcome to the ragamuffins. We are the waifs and strays who follow that marvelous incarnate man from heaven who once visited this planet by way of the Galilee. Daily we struggle to “work out the salvation that God has given us with a proper sense of awe and responsibility” (Philippians 2:12). As one among us, it will always be safe for you to share your individual fears, disappointments and pressing concerns. We will laugh and cry with you as we patiently await His return. And I promise you, one day all will be understood.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656