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Has God Forsaken You?

August 13th, 2008 · 6 Comments

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1)

When God Turns His Back

Purpose Weekly, August 13, 2008

Vol. 2, Issue 29

Ever feel like that? It was David doing the talking in Psalm 22. Something was going on in his life that made him think God had deserted him. He cried out to God night and day but no answer. People ridiculed him for his faith that God would rescue him. He didn’t give up, he didn’t stop praying, but God still didn’t answer him.

Was God mad at David? Probably not. Had David committed some kind of sin that made God turn His back on him? David doesn’t sound very guilty in this particular Psalm. I know from personal experience that at times when my behavior is least deserving of God’s grace, His grace sometimes shows up in buckets. So I’m guessing God didn’t forsake David because of something he did wrong.

Did God forsake David or did David just feel like God forsook him?

Have you ever had a time in your life when your prayers went unanswered? Like you cried out to God, but God had already left the building? Leaving you there alone, in spite of your prayers, in spite of your faith, in spite of your positive confession that God would deliver you from your situation.

Was there ever a time when some great tragedy set up shop in your life? Something you didn’t deserve? Something so big and so terrible that it changed your thinking about God? Or least about what He thought about you?

*****

I had a friend whose baby boy died. There wasn’t any reason. His son was healthy when he put him to bed and wasn’t breathing when he checked on him four hours later.

The doctors called it Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) the old timers called it crib death. There wasn’t any reason. His son just passed away.

The tragedy of this struck the family like boulder falling from the sky. Everything stopped. Time stopped … it went on, but it stopped. Relatives and friends came in. Services were arranged. People were fed. Other children were bathed and put to bed and dressed in the morning. But my friend and his wife were spectators; watching from inside a shell of shock and disbelief.

They had two other children. A big brother and big sister to the boy who died. They were just five and seven. How do you explain to them why little brother is gone? How do you explain it to yourself? How do you reboot your life after a crash like that?

My friend rebooted. He called a week after, wanting to come back to work, to ‘move on with life.’ He sounded upbeat, but there was a fritzy edge to his voice; like a metal wheel about to leave its track. I told him to take another week. He didn’t make it back to work for a month.

When he did come back to work he sounded good and looked good. Through the ordeal he had lost about thirty pounds. I didn’t know he had the weight to loose, but he showed up without it; apparently in good health and in good spirits.

As we worked together over the next few months, things did seem to be coming ‘back to normal.’ There were subjects we didn’t bring up, and when talk drifted too close to the edge we changed direction. He even regained his appetite. It didn’t take him long to find the thirty pounds he had lost; but things seemed to be working, so we went back to business as usual.

Then he started dropping weight again. Then he had a car accident; just a fender bender, no big deal. Then he had another accident. I watched it from across the street. Middle of the morning, we were going to see a client and then split up. He was in his car, I was in mine. I pulled out and he pulled out to make a u-turn and follow me. Except he pulled out into an oncoming truck … just pulled out … the truck was as big as day, easy to see … he just pulled out. Luckily the truck sideswiped him, took out mirrors and fenders on both vehicles, but nobody was hurt.

A few days later he missed an appointment. A few days after that I got a call from a mutual friend. They found him in a field, in his car, out of gas, a hose running from the car’s exhaust to the passenger window.

How do you explain something like this? Why did any of this have to happen?

It’s tempting to construct an easy answer. “They should have put the baby on its stomach.” “He should have sought grief counseling.” You should have seen the warning signs.”

Or to blow it off with well meant proverbs.  “God’s still in charge.” “God needed them more than we did.” “The sun will come up tomorrow.”

Answers and proverbs are pretty useless at this point.

*****

Read the book of Job when you get a chance. Job suffered. He lost his children and his wealth and his health. Job hadn’t done anything wrong. He didn’t deserve to have his life destroyed. Job had no idea why this avalanche of calamity had fallen on him. Job reached out to God, but God wasn’t answering.

His friends found him sitting on top of an ash pile, scraping the boils that covered him head to toe with a piece of broken pottery. They came to sit with him, to comfort him, and to counsel him in the midst of his tragedy.

They gave him their answers and their advice and their proverbs. And it didn’t help. They were wrong. Then a young man, full of righteousness and vinegar told Job why he suffered and how to fix it. He was wrong too.

Then God finally showed up.

It turns out that none of them knew anything about God’s reasons for Job’s suffering. God was pretty self-righteous in His attitude toward Job’s suffering and his friends’ advice. But that’s what God is – Self-righteous. It’s something we don’t understand.

God’s retort to Job and his friends (it’s amazing to me that God would even justify His actions with a retort) struck me:

“‘Would you discredit my justice?  Would you condemn me to justify yourself.'” (Job 40:8)

God had His reasons for allowing Job to suffer. God had his reasons for allowing my friend to suffer. Would I discredit God’s justice to justify myself as to why He allowed this to happen? I can’t. It’s not my place.

*****

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

David is not the only one to have uttered that cry. Jesus, God’s only true-born son – with Him from the beginning and with Him in the end – cried out to His Father: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

His own Son. God didn’t spare His own Son.

His own Son cried the words you may have cried, my friend may have cried, David cried, Job undoubtedly cried. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

You know how when I don’t have an answer for things I say “that’s where faith comes in”? Maybe that’s true. Here’s something I never saw before today. God didn’t spare His own Son.

If you feel like God has turned His back on you. If some tragedy has beset you that is too great to bear. I don’t have any answers or proverbs for you. But I do have this: God didn’t spare His own Son.

And I’ve got a promise. It’s one God made to the Israelites before they entered Canaan and it’s one He extends to you and me today. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

For me that’s answer enough.

In Him,

Steve Spillman

Tags: God's purpose · Justice · peace · purpose · suffering

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Wes Smith // Aug 13, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Dear Steve, Once again you’ve hit the jackpot! Honesty. I love it. It’s O.K. for us not to have answers. And it is even O.K. not to ask the same questions that most people ask. I’ve never asked God why he took Primrose. Fifteen years later friends still ask me occasionally why Primrose died. Thanks for this week’s newsletter. L&P, Wes

  • 2 Al Thomas // Sep 25, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Steve: Didn’t see contact information on your web site. I have listed your site (Links) on my web page since we spoke some years ago. Would you put mine on yours?

    Blessings,

    AL THOMAS

  • 3 John // Jan 11, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Bullcrap. In one sentence you have the quote, “he will never leave you nor forsake you”. In another, you indicate the “reasoning” that God leaves us feeling forsaken with “he didn’t spare his own son”. This is a contradiction.

    God has forsaken me. At first I was asking for reasons…since then, I have GIVEN him reasons. Not a day goes by when I don’t cuss at him. I used to serve him with a grateful and obedient heart. Now I despise the thought of him. My mother throws the ‘fear of hell’ at me. Why would I want to serve a god like this?

    John

  • 4 “Would You Condemn Me to Justify Yourself?” | Got Potential? // Jan 13, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    […] I received a sad comment this weekend. It was a response to a Purpose Weekly letter “Has God Forsaken You?” You can read the letter and the comment (feel free to comment yourself) at: http://www.gotpotential.org/gods-purpose/has-god-forsaken-you. […]

  • 5 admin // Jan 13, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    John, God hasn’t forsaken you. See http://www.gotpotential.org/site-news/would-you-condemn-me-to-justify-yourself

  • 6 When a Child Dies | Got Potential? // Apr 7, 2010 at 3:19 am

    […] baby had died suddenly and unexpectedly in the night. I shared the story with you a while back (http://www.gotpotential.org/gods-purpose/has-god-forsaken-you). The last time was a few weeks ago. I don’t think it was as sudden or unexpected, we […]

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