In His darkest hour, Jesus felt abandoned by God. He cried, “My God, My God! Why have You forsaken Me?

Most of us can identify. We too have felt abandon at times by family and friends and even God. Perhaps during the global pandemic many feel this as they lose loved ones, lose their own health, lose jobs, businesses or resources.

Recently, I’ve suffered months of nonstop pain, and in this gorgon’s grip I have sometimes felt abandon by God, or if not abandoned then at least neglected. I have known and believed he was there, but for long periods God has not communicated with me in the personal and intimate ways he has in the past.

Abandonment anger, loneliness, depression, sadness and fear — I know these feelings. Most of the world does too.

I’ve asked: Why has God allowed me to go through so much unrelenting pain? Why allow this throughout our world?

The answer: I don’t know. I may never know. I’m not settling for quick, familiar or facile answers to tout to the faithful or faithless. I’ve been told by my wisest friends to wait, to defer judgement, to not rush toward fake fixes or trite truths.

I resonate with their counsel. It’s okay to not know. It’s honest. And I have also come to a good place of not shaming myself for being ignorant and fragile and unconnected. I am, in this season, both weak and strong, but I refuse to pretend I am always strong.

D.A. Carson wrote, “I find hope in the fact that there is no attempt in Scripture to whitewash the anguish of God’s people when they undergo suffering. They argue with God, they complain to God, they weep before God. Theirs is not a faith that leads to dry-eyed stoicism, but a faith so robust it wrestles with God.”

Psalms 13

Listen to David.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my souland have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”

Moses humbled by his own failure in Egypt, lived in Midian 40 years.

Times of loss, abandonment, isolation sadness and fear were common to the heroes of the Bible. We just don’t tend toward those remembrances. We tell the story with the end in mind but lost in trial they knew nothing of redemptive ends.

Joseph endured a lengthy betrayal by his brothers, slavery and prison. Thirteen years passed from the time Joseph was sold by his brothers to the time he left prison. Some of that time, Joseph was in Potiphar’s service. None of it was easy. Think of how he must have felt during those hidden years.

Daniel was brought to Babylon a captive. Under Nebuchadnezzar’s orders, he was forced to serve in the king’s government. Think of how he must have wondered why his great wisdom was closeted. And then the lion’s den.

Esther was an orphan.

Jeremiah had his life’s work destroyed in the fire.

The disciples lost their teacher and savior.

They felt terrible.

What to say?

We all feel alone at times.

And although it’s not always something we can feel or see or even hear very well, yet God tells us that he never leaves us.

Isaiah 49:15-16, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…”

We may feel abandoned. That’s okay. We may feel forgotten. That’s understandable. We may feel neglected. That’s normal.

It is just that God says we aren’t.

What to do?

Don’t deny your feelings. They are real. They are valid. Most other human beings have felt as you do at some point in life. Jesus himself was unashamed — even when he knew the plan— to declare his feelings of abandonment openly.

We say what at we feel so that we are authentic and honest and real. We walk in the light, which means we let our thoughts and feelings be exposed to our selves and others.

Instead of running to quick fixes that involve suppression or denial or flip answers, instead we wait, as so many have waited, in solidarity with each other we wait, weak we wait, hopeful we wait, hanging on his character and judgments we wait, coming to us in his time and his way — we wait.

In the path of your judgments, O LORD, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.

Isaiah 26:8

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