The word of the Lord promises that if we “seek the Lord, we will find Him if we seek Him with all our heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, Deut 4:29) The reason Jesus died on the cross, was not just to provide forgiveness of sins, but to enable us to have a relationship with God and know His presence with us in a personal relationship.
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17:27)
I love how David, in the face of adversity seeks the Lord out in the temple (Psalm 27), making a decision to “seek His face” despite his life circumstances and feelings. When life is difficult and the journey feels long, we may perceive that God has forsaken us and that though we seek Him, He cannot be found by us. In these situations, I want to suggest
5 things to watch out for when we think God has forsaken us.
- Feelings – “I feel like God has forsaken me…” Feelings are temporary, the way I feel today, may not be the way I feel tomorrow. Whereas truth and God are unchanging. It is OK to have days that you feel like you are abandoned, alone, forsaken. But to have these days, move into weeks and months, until you get characterised by these feelings is not good. Feelings are not based on fact and truth, they are based on our moods, chemicals, hormones etc. Feelings do not reveal the truth about God. Scripture tells us the truth about God (Heb 13:5). What is more, Jesus was forsaken, so that we will never be forsaken by God.
“About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).” Matt 27:46
- Circumstances – “I don’t understand why…” We may find ourselves in circumstances which we don’t understand, or wonder how we landed up there. We may even find ourselves in circumstances that seem to never change. Or even circumstances, in which we are totally convinced God cannot keep His promises. Abraham is a case in point. He looked at his body and Sarah’s body and it was impossible for them to have children. He probably wondered why God had given Him that promise when fulfilling it seemed impossible. But Abraham chose to believe despite his circumstances:
“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God…” (Rom 4:20).
- Observations – “I don’t see it, I don’t see…” Abraham also looked around him and observed the impossible. He observed his body and Sarah’s body, and the passing of time. At times we look at our world circumstances, life circumstances, personal relationships and fully believe it is impossible for God to intervene. In these seasons what we observe, kills our faith, just like the father having tried everything, was not sure that Jesus could heal his son.
“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ (Matt 19:26)”
Jesus was reminding him to have faith, which is why the father asked for help in his unbelief. Faith and what we observe, do not go together. Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please God,” that’s because faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Heb 11:1) and God’s people “live by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7)
- Broken Expectations – “God did not come through…” We hoped for something and it didn’t happen. We prayed for healing and that person may still have died. We prayed about something and then did not receive it. God did not come through for us in some way. Broken expectations are hard to process and we don’t always understand. Heads up, you will have broken expectations in life, life is hard. We need to surrender these expectations to Him, because God says:
‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
It is comforting here to remember that God orders our steps (Prov 20:24) and that the plans He has for us are not necessarily our plans for life. It is also important to remember, that His will and purpose is always for our good (Rom 8:28).
- Bad Experience – “People failed me…” Here is a piece of good advice for free: expect people to let you down. People will fail you and it is usually from the people you least expect it and very often it is friends and family, people that are really close to you. Be “sober minded” (1 Peter 5:8), as sure as people are sinful and the devil prowls around, he will make mischief in relationships wherever he can and you will have difficulty with people. You may suffer at the hands of others, but you are not forsaken. People may fail you, but God will not fail you. Don’t put the behavior of people onto God. God does not behave like people do.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor 4:8-9)
No matter what life throws at you, or how you feel, God does not forsake His children. It is impossible for God to forsake His children.
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Hebrews 13:5, here it is from the Amplified version:
“…be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]”
I think God is being quiet emphatic there! So, what are we to do? David tells us in Psalm 27:13-14:
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Thank you, Lord, that You do not change, neither do You change your mind. Thank you that You promise to be with me in all of life’s circumstances, never to relax your hold on me. Thank you that when I am afraid, I can trust in You. Trusting You despite how I feel, what I observe, what my circumstances are. Trusting You even when things did not turn out the way I hoped they would. Trusting You even when people have let me down and hurt me. Because despite how people treat me, you are not like people. You are good and all Your ways are just. Your will for my life will always be the very best that You can prepare for me even if I don’t understand it now. You are a good Father who takes care of His children. I am safe in Your right hand.