Have you ever felt forsaken by God? At one time or another in our Christian walk, each of us have probably empathized with Jesus when he cried out on the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Though Jesus bore the ultimate separation from God so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be restored to a right relationship with the Father, Jesus also told His followers that they would suffer and trials would come (John 15:20).
Vaneetha Rendall Risner, a contributor to Pastor John Piper’s Desiring God website, writes about feeling forsaken by God and how, over time, God showed her how He had never forsaken her but was instead growing her faith in Him.
This feeling of being forsaken is an especially apt one to ponder at this time of the year when Good Friday, when Christians commemorate Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross, is only a couple days away.
The words Jesus cried out to God on the cross are actually a fulfilment of a prophecy written by King David in Psalm 22. David also experienced feeling forsaken by God and penned these words:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1-2)
What trials have you experienced that have made your heart and soul echo these words? Risner shares her own deep anguish and trials which led to a feeling of being forsaken by God:
“Sobbing by my son’s tiny casket was devastating. Receiving the divorce papers in the mail was beyond heartbreaking. Hearing the doctor say that my body was deteriorating, and then watching it happen, was agonizing.”
Through all the anguish, the pain, the feeling of hopelessness, just as new light dawned Easter morning, showing an empty tomb with a risen Savior, God showed Risner that He was transforming her pain into something beautiful.
As the Psalmist says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”
Looking back, Risner realized that the trials she endured deepened her relationship with God and her empathy for others.
“Out of the most crushing pain and terrible despair, God was bringing glorious triumph.”
“Instead of deforming me, my pain strangely deepened me,” she continues. “It increased my capacity for God. And for joy. It made me see the world through different eyes. Eyes of faith and not eyes of hopelessness. It helped me recognize that what I was going through was just a snapshot in time. One day my life will be totally transformed.”
Whether you are feeling forsaken by God right now, or you have overcome a hard season through Christ’s power, let this be an encouragement for you to know He is trustworthy.
And just as He went through the trial of the cross to draw you to Him, He will not let you go now.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).