2004-09-27 - Desertion
Psalm 37:23,24 "The steps of a man are established by the Lord; and He delights in his way. When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; because the Lord is the One who holds his hand."
Do you ever feel that God has forsaken you? Do you feel like there are perpetual clouds above your head, that the Lord has hidden His face from you, or that He has turned His back on you? Can you say that the "God of all comfort," (2 Corinthians 1:3) seems like He lives in another time zone? (If you live in Florida...) Well, so did many in the Bible. It has been the common experience and condition, that even the best saints have seemingly been deserted by God in the Bible. Let's look at just two briefly.
"Behold, I go forward but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; when He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him. He turns on the right, I cannot see Him." Job 23:8,9. These are the words of Job, and while we all know the story of Job, have you ever considered the despair echoed in these words? Job is seeking the Lord in the midst of His struggles, and he cannot find Him. He is not seeking God haphazardly, or only putting forth a sham effort, but rather He has gone forward and backward, to the right and the left, and he cannot find God. He feels like God has deserted him.
"Now as for me, I said in my prosperity, I will never be moved. O Lord, by Thy favor Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong. Thou didst hide Thy face; I was dismayed." Psalm 30:6,7. This is an interesting passage from David, a man who God greatly loved and favored. Here David goes on about how great things have gone with Him. He had it good. He even knows that having it good is not due to anything he deserved, but he acknowledges God for His benefactor. It is God who made David strong, and David both knows it and thanks God for it. So what a surprise to read the next line, that God hid His face from him. But here we see that David knew both the favor of God and also felt, at times, that God had deserted him. "Thou hast put me in the lowest pit, in dark places, in the depths." Psalm 88:6.
In looking at these two examples, we see that even the best of Christians may feel that God has hidden his favor from them. However, both these examples also show that us that even if God has hidden his face for a while, his forsaking is always only partial, and is never total. God knows what we are able to endure. God may forsake his people in His comforting presence, and it may feel like all around us is falling down, but God never forsakes His children in His supporting presence. "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Lastly, consider that God may forsake His people for their good. He may be preparing them for greater manifestations of His blessings and grace. This was the case with Job. Job was greatly afflicted, but in the end, the Lord blessed him with more than he had before He allowed him to be afflicted. Afflictions should also drive us to Christ. God may forsake us, that we may not forsake Him. A true child of God will be driven to pray, hope and trust God all the more, when the roof of life seems to be caving in upon them. If God hides His favor from us, we will naturally seek to cleave closer to Him when His favor returns. God may have hidden his face from David for a while, but David says, "O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1. David says that he seeks God earnestly and yearns for Him, even in a place of desolation. Can we say that of ourselves? Would others say that of us?
The application from these two examples of Job and David is simple. If we feel deserted by God, or feel that we cannot find His favor - though we look forward and backward, right or left, we still must seek His face more. We still must rest in His mercy to a greater extent. We still must come before Him, humbly, and plead with Him for His restored favor. We have here two encouraging examples in Scripture (there are others also) where God was gracious to His servants, and let this be an encouragement to us, to follow their example.
Soli Deo Gloria,