Abandoned By God

Recently, in the deepest part of the night, while facing struggles personally, maritally and vocationally, I came to the point of feeling truly abandoned by God. The pain of loss, broken-heartedness and hopelessness truly gripped me and as I cried out to God I truly felt He had turned His back upon me. I felt completely rejected and dejected.

I’m not trying to be melodramatic, but life was so disrupted and out of sorts that I could see no real hope on this side of glory at all and truly felt as though God had turned His face away from me and left me to myself. I know that many will immediately react to such feelings and such a position, but I’m not the first believer in history to experience such a black moment in my life.

I was reminded of this as I was leading my Sunday school through the psalms and someone wanted me to go through Psalm 13. David starts with the words:

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?

What comforting words they were to me. David was showing me that he too, struggled from feelings of abandonment. I was not the first, nor am I alone. A lot of people struggle from such feelings in their Christian walk, but because of some false pollyanna view of Christianity, we are not allowed to talk about it or admit to such dark feelings. So many, when hearing of such struggles, just want to pop off a quick verse about all things working together for good, and move on to the next happy moment. It is as if we are to ignore such dark feelings and break into a chorus of Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Please note the irony here. While singing of such a happy life, they are hanging from crosses and facing death.

How many have struggled with such feelings and have been afraid to admit it, thinking that by having such feelings we are sinning against God? The psalmist was not sinning against God when he uttered such words. He was merely recognizing God’s active movement in His life. He was being honest before God about what he felt and before the all-knowing and all-seeing God of the universe.

Having such feelings and being honest about them can be a blessing if we will let them be. How so? These feelings show us that something very vital is missing to in our lives. We are missing the presence of the LORD. David had to endure this absence for quite some time and finally that absence leads him to say, How long, O LORD?

I thing what struck me about this reality is that often times when we enter into sufferings, we are OK with those sufferings initially because we know through such sufferings God refines us and purifies us. However, it is the “How long…” that trips up most of us. Suffering for a week, we can endure. Doing without something for a month, we can handle. But the prolonged period of suffering, where there seems to be no end in sight, that is what dooms many of us.

We are like David asking, “How long, O Lord?”

And that is safe to ask. It shows us that the answer to our pain and suffering are only going to be found in the LORD.

But David doesn’t just ask, How long? He also asks: How long will you hide your face from me?

This question is a matter of blessing for it is a blessing for the LORD to turn His face toward us. This is why the Aaronic benediction is so important in the believer’s life:

Numbers 6:24-26 The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.  Amen

His face toward us is a blessing in the areas of our lives. For David, God had turned His face away and He knew the turning was the removal of blessing. For us, the blessing can be removed in our marriages, our jobs, our health, our country, etc.. There are many areas that God can choose to remove His blessing from us, so it is right for us to ask Him: How long will you hide your face from me?

Again, in asking the question, we are telling the LORD that we know all the blessings we have in every realm of life come ultimately from Him. We also recognize that those blessings have been removed for some time and that it is only through the LORD that the blessings will return.

So we petition the LORD in these dark moments, dark months, or dark years. If blessing is going to return, then it must come from the Father of lights.

How does David petition? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes. He is asking for understanding. He is asking that God would help him understand why the blessing has been removed and why it has been so long since he had it.

The is the turning point for the psalmist. It is after that in which he proclaims: But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart rejoices in Your salvation, I will sing to the LORD because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Not that his situation has changed, or that blessing has been restored. But David, like us, realizes that God has and is blessing us even in the moments when we feel abandoned. By understanding God’s providential hand, we know that ultimately He will never leave us nor forsake us, even though we may feel like He has. Because we feel like He has, tells us of His bountiful blessing on us.

Hattip: Neil for this song. See the comments.

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16 thoughts on “Abandoned By God

  1. Julie

    Upon reading the first few lines of your post, I immediately thought of David before you even mentioned him. I too have struggled theologically with those that believe everything should go YOUR way if you are in the will of God…rubbish. I’ve had to hold my tongue with many I love as they espouse this whole “favor” nonsense. If God allowed His very Son to sacrifice His all for the Kingdom, we are a bit arrogant to think we will avoid real hardships and suffering.
    You hang in there, Timothy, and keep in the Word, let His Word wash over you, heal the hurts, and strengthen you. Also referring back to David, He was a man after God’s own Heart, WOW. With all of his lamenting He always turned to God, poured His heart out to God, confessed He was down and received God’s rebuke when need be. He didn’t put on a self-righteous face when things went to hell but was honest and cried out to God consistently believing that ultimately only God would comfort Him. Keep up your crying out to God, cry to Him even when you feel the prayers are hitting the ceiling…keep crying out to Him…and crying out to Him, and rebuke the liar that would have you believe He who loves you with a love we can’t comprehend is not listening.
    http://christianity.about.com/od/oldtestamentpeople/a/King-David.htm

    Remember You were made for this if He has allowed it then He will receive all glory and honor for your perseverance and steadfastness! Amen!

    Another verse of encouragement:
    Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. ~Psalm 43:5

    Your Sister in Christ,
    and praying His comfort, peace, and guidance,
    Julie

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    1. Julie

      I know you’ve done many “Word” studies, but had you thought of doing an intensive one on King David right now?
      Just a thought…

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      1. Thanks for your thoughts, and encouragement. I haven’t thought about a word study on David, but might after I finish up here at RCF. I’m immersed in the Psalms, which is almost as good because of our Sunday school class. As you can see, there has been much fruit just for me in all this. Thanks again for your prayers, I do need them.

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  2. Do you say that is ok for me to feel abandoned by God? That it is not a sign of immaturity? DUDE believe it or not that is revolutionary. Wait! Naomi understood your teaching when she returned to her town. (Ruth 1:20)

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  3. Great article. When we get to the point that we have nothing but JESUS, we can then be trully satisfied just in knowing that in HIM, we live and breath and have our being. We can do nothing. It is all about HIM and HE and HE alone knows ‘how long the how long is”. We have even trust HIM in this. A horrible place to be but also a great place to be. Forsaken but no alone for HE is with us even in the bottom of the pit.

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    1. Julie

      Wonderfully put! He is our all in all…the Great I Am! And His Grace is sufficient in all things.
      Wow, feel like I’ve had a praise and worship session here, thanks everyone!

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  4. One of my favorite songs along this topic is BarlowGirl’s Never Alone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dqrKTAJibA

    The lyrics are so helpful for me when I’ve felt a distance between God and me:

    I waited for you today
    But You didn’t show
    No No No
    I needed You today
    So where did you go?
    You told me to call
    you said You’d be there
    And though I haven’t seen You
    Are You still there?

    Chorus
    I cried out with no reply and
    I can’t feel You by my side
    So I’ll hold tight to what I know
    You’re here and I’m never alone.

    And though I can not see You
    and I can’t explain why.
    Such a deep, deep reassurance
    You’ve placed in my life oh
    We cannot separate
    ‘Cause You’re part of me
    and though You’re invisible
    I’ll trust the unseen

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  5. Pingback: Abandoned By God

  6. Matt Allison

    Thanks for your honesty and openness. In such times I’ve also found comfort in Lamentations 3 (But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope…). I pray you once again experience God’s “smiling face” behind this occasion of His “frowning providence”.

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