“Where were You when I needed You, Lord?” We all have moments when we feel such grief, fear, loneliness, or depression that we wonder, “Are You there, Lord? Do You even care?” I’d like to share a few thoughts on what’s really happening when it seems like God is nowhere to be found.
First, let’s clarify that Jesus knows exactly how you feel. Remember the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane? Facing imminent crucifixion, Jesus said to His friends, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me” (Matt. 26:38). One translation says, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me.”* As Jesus prepared for an excruciating crucifixion while shouldering the unimaginable burden of our sin, guilt, and shame, his friends weren’t there (Matt. 25:40-41). Worse, unable to look upon the sins Jesus carried, His Father was forced to turn away (Mark 15:34).
Jesus did the hardest thing any man would ever do – and He did it entirely alone.
I will NOT leave you alone!
My friends, stop and let this penetrate your heart. Jesus knows what it is to experience utter abandonment. Why then, would He cast you away in your time of need? If you doubt this, read John, chapters 14-16. Before ascending to heaven, Jesus carefully and lovingly prepared His disciples for His departure. Over and again, He promised He would NOT abandon them.
- “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.” (John 14:16)
- “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
- “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)
Our engagement ring
The disciples certainly “felt” forsaken after Jesus’ death. Dejected and miserable, they wondered where to turn. But in a few short days, Jesus would send His Spirit, the Holy Spirit to be with them so intimately that He would live in them (Acts 2).
One of my favorite verses about the Holy Spirit is Ephesians 1:13-14: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
The word “guarantee” here is the Greek word arrabōn. It means a down-payment or a pledge. A form of this word was eventually used for “engagement ring.” Think about it! When you give your heart to Christ, you receive His Holy Spirit as your engagement ring. The Holy Spirit is the Bridegroom’s promise that He will return for us – His bride!
How to cope
It’s easy to digress when talking about the Holy Spirit, but the point of this blog is that as Christians, we may sometimes “feel” alone but we never are. If you feel abandoned, stop! Take a deep breath, and go back to the Scriptures that promise His presence. Speak them over yourself! The circumstances in your life may keep you from seeing clearly (1 Cor. 13:12); but even when you can’t see or understand you can still trust in Him. After all, His very name promises us His abiding presence, for He is IMMANUEL – God with us! (Matt. 1:23)
For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”Heb. 13:5
Comfort and peace never come from anything we know about ourselves, but only and always from what we know about Him.Hannah Whitall Smith
* Good News Translation® (Today’s English Version, Second Edition)
© 1992 American Bible Society. All rights reserved.