Abandoned by God

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

The stark cry of Jesus on the cross.

The cry of the man who ended up abandoned by God because he did exactly what God wanted him to do.

The cry of the man who had prayed to God for deliverance only to have his request denied.

The cry of untold others of us who find ourselves abandoned by God, not rescued from our trials, despite our prayers and, most disturbingly of all, in spite of our attempts to faithfully follow God in the world that is now the source of our death.

I had a conversation this week with someone who was living this: the experience of suffering, of rejection, the lure of death even, that stemmed from years of trying to be faithful only to have it fall apart.

The stories aren’t uncommon.

A young couple devotes themselves to the church community. They know that this is is the means God has ordained for their spiritual growth and health. The find themselves spiritually and emotionally abused.

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

A professor at a Christian school or pastor of a particular church serve faithfully—with true fidelity to both God and their congregation, only to be run out because of politics, because of theology.

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

A young couple diligently seeks the guidance of God before committing to engagement and marriage, commitedly works through their issues in therapy and counseling, continuing the relationship in the face of what appear to be insurmountable obstacles, relying on the Lord’s strength, only to end up divorced.

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

The bottom line is this: the feeling of abandonment by God is more severe the greater our conviction that what we’ve done, and the point where we’ve been abandoned, has been done in order to honor God, in what is true obedience to scripture combined with our personal sense of calling.

Here’s the point: any experience of emotional trauma can wreak havoc on your relationships, including your relationship with God. And, when the reason we were in the circumstance in the first place is not our own creative notion but a response to the calling of God, that relational dissonance is amplified incalculably.

In other words: don’t be surprised if your experience of / relationship with God takes a huge hit as you struggle with that rejection or suffering that comes from faithfulness.

As I talk with people who have gone through these things (including myself, to whom I speak more than I speak to most people), it often takes people years to begin experiencing again what they know to be true in their heads with respect to God’s continued presence, guidance, and even provision of new and better ways.

When Jesus was most faithful to God, he also experienced the profundity of abandonment.

Our calling to take up our cross and follow, as much as we might hope it will mean that Jesus experienced it so we won’t have to, often means the opposite: that we will recapitulate his experience in ourselves.

So what is faith for the people of God?

Continuing to trust that the God who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will raise us also with Jesus.

It is trusting that the suffering is not a sign of faithlessness from us, an indication that we were “out of God’s will.”

It is trusting, and praying, that we will yet praise the name of the Lord in the land of the living, among our brothers and sisters who will celebrate our deliverance along with us.

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2 thoughts on “Abandoned by God

  1. That’s a nice thought, and what most of us hold on to. For some of us, that relief never comes. We are at the end of our lives, and it NEVER GOT BETTER.

  2. Thanks, that hit home pretty well….am at that point and i faced the ‘rejection’ by turning away from God and everything went south . I had no more fight in me, just plain weird rage about everything and in more ways than one i came apart [go figure…] …I wonder if me respite will come sooner than later and before i make more regretfully sinful maneuvers…

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