Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why Have You Abandoned Me?

Psalm 139 says, "Where can I run from Your Spirit? Oh, where can I hide from Your Presence?
Sometimes we try to hide from God.  My last post asked why.

This week, as Christians walk through Holy Week, the question is:

                                       Does it ever feel like God has abandoned you?

I certainly have experienced this, often in my darkest moments, the times when I most desperately needed to feel God's love and presence.  What I have learned (or more accurately, what God has taught me) from these experiences is to trust that God is with me even when I can't feel Him.  God is  love, forgiveness, care, protection and tenderness.

From Isaiah 41:9-10 "You whom I have called my servant, whom I have chosen and will not cast off--Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you...."

     But Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me."
     Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget,  I will never forget you.  (Isaiah 49:14-15).

For love of us, God became one of us, a human, in Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus is God become human.  He experienced what human weakness and vulnerability are.  Jesus certainly knew pain and suffering, and at the most difficult moment of His life--as He faced not only death, but death by crucifixion--He experienced that same darkness I mentioned above.  From the cross, He cried out to the Father, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"

He was quoting Psalm 22 "My God, my God , why have your forsaken me, far from my prayer and from the words of my cry?" (PS. 22:2).  Was it just a quote?  Was Jesus simply teaching?  I don't believe so.  I believe He truly experienced that desolate darkness of searching for God and not being able to find Him.  Am I saying that the Father abandoned His Son?  Absolutely not.  Jesus couldn't FEEL the Father's presence.  When you are in the depths of suffering, it is hard to be aware of anything other than the pain.  In the darkness, it is hard to see.  This, I think, is what happens to us at times.  It's not that God has abandoned us; it's that we are so focused on our pain that it's hard to experience anything else.  That's where surrender comes in.  The act of faith that I mentioned above is a surrender.  I stop trying to feel God and just accept that He is there and that He cares and IS helping me, even if I can't feel the help.  Often, shortly after the surrender, I feel relief, peace and then His presence.

Take some time this week to read Isaiah 49, Ps. 22 or one of the Passion narratives slowly.  Before you do, ask God to open you to hear what He wants to say to you through the words.  It doesn't matter whether or not your Christian.  It doesn't matter whether or not you even are sure you believe that there is a God.  Just give it a try and see what happens.

Blessings on your week!