What To Do When You Feel Abandoned By God
What do we do when the darkness will not lift?
What do we do when the darkness of depression and despair has surrounded us and there seems to be no light anywhere?
And the worst part of it is that it feels like God isn’t there either?
That He is nowhere to be found.
Through tears we cry out on our knees, “Lord, please don’t abandon me! I need You desperately right now. Please, hear my cry, please draw near to me. I know I’m not worthy, but Oh, how I need You! I’m desperate for You, Lord…You are all I’ve got! You are my only hope.”
Have you ever been there?
If not, at some point in life you surely will be.
King David experienced this kind of pain in the darkness and he wrote about it in Psalm 13.
One of the reasons Christians throughout the centuries have connected so deeply with the Psalms is because of the brutal honesty that we see in Psalms like Psalm 13.
Writing about this brutal honesty, D.A. Carson says, “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."
In Psalm 13, we are given a picture, a model if you will, of how to “wrestle with God” when we find ourselves in the pit of darkness and despair.
Psalm 13 reads…
“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? 3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. 5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
Here in Psalm 13, David is on the verge of despair.
He is feeling hopeless as he looks to the future.
He feels he cannot cope any longer.
He is at the end of himself.
Four times, with four different questions, he cries out to God, ‘How long?’
I’ve heard it said, “It is not under the sharpest, but the longest trials, that we are most in danger of depression and despair.”
That is what we see here with David.
David is in agony and can’t feel the presence of God. He shares how it feels like God has ignored his pain and his sorrow. Have you been there? We should take comfort knowing that just like David, God wants to hear our genuine feelings when we are hurting, even if they are frustration and anger.
Of course, while it may feel like God has forgotten us in these times, can God actually forget us? Does He forget us in our deepest pain?
We may “feel” that we have been forgotten by God. And to make matters worse, our enemy, Satan, wants nothing more than to reinforce this “feeling” by lying to us. To convince us that indeed God has forgotten us. That He is long gone. That He doesn't care. But the truth is this: God cannot and will not forget us.
He tells us so.
Listen to what God says in 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…”
Christian, don’t believe the lie that God has forgotten you.
Not for a second.
Don’t trust the “feeling” that says He doesn't care and that He has abandoned you.
Your “feelings” come and go. They are like grass, which flourishes or dies depending on the season. But do you know what doesn’t come and go?
The Word of God.
The Word never changes. It is always trustworthy. It is forever true.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever."(Isaiah 40:8)
What God Himself tells us in His Word, we can trust completely.
We can bank our lives on it.
And so, we can trust Him when He tells us in Isaiah 49:15-16, “I WILL NOT forget you…I have engraved you on the palms of my hands!”
What a wonderful and glorious truth! What love! What mercy! What compassion! This is truth we must preach to ourselves and to one another when the darkness will not lift.
Even in his great despair, David knew the truth of Isaiah 49:15-16. He knew deep down that God would never forget him or abandon him. He knew the Lord loved Him with an everlasting love.
This is why he closes Psalm 13 with verses 5-6…
“5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord,because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
In these two verses, David shows us what to do when we feel abandoned by God. He shares 3 things:
#1. Trust in God’s steadfast love for us (v. 5a).
David begins by saying in verse 5, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love…”
What must we do? Trust.
We trust God.
We trust His promises.
We trust His character.
We trust His faithfulness.
We trust His Word.
We trust He is God who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
We trust His love, which He displayed most clearly through Christ’s death on the cross to save sinners like you and me.
Even when we don’t see and don’t feel, we trust.
I love the words of James Montgomery Boice when he writes, "The fact that we feel abandoned itself means that we really know God is there. To be abandoned you need somebody to be abandoned by. Because we are Christians and have been taught by God in the Scriptures, we know that God still loves us and will be faithful to us, regardless of our feelings."
Again, our feelings change.
God and His Word are unchanging.
#2: Put our hope in God as we look to the future (v. 5b)
David goes on in verse 5, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.”
Real hope — hope that sees the future — will give you joy in the present. Even in the worst of circumstances.
That is what we see here in verse 5. David’s hope is ultimately found not in his present situation, but in his eternal salvation!
Friends, for those who are in Christ Jesus, no matter how difficult our circumstances are in this life, no one can steal the joy of our eternal salvation in Jesus! This hope is sure.
Hear these promises from God’s Word:
1 Peter 1:3-6 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.
Philippians 3:20-21 - Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 - For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
While our circumstances may not change, we can know the deep, supernatural joy that comes when we put our hope in the God who holds our future in His hands.
#3. Worship God for His glory and goodness (v. 6)
David concludes Psalm 13 with these words in verse 6, “I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
David ends this Psalm with singing!
Songs of praise, worshipping the God of His salvation who is better than life itself!
Even in the darkness, David sings.
Charles Spurgeon, the great 19thcentury Baptist preacher once said, "There is not half enough singing in the world … I remember a servant who used to sing while she was at the wash-tub. Her mistress said to her, 'Why, Jane, how is it that you are always singing?' She said, 'It keeps the bad thoughts away.'"
You see, singing to the Lord, praising the Lord, worshipping the Lord is how we FIGHT spiritual battles. It is how we FIGHT the battle for our minds and for our hearts in the dark valleys of life.
Like David in Psalm 13, we look to Him! We cry out to Him! We praise His name! We SING to Him!
Even in the face of despair.
Even when the darkness will not lift.
Even when we “feel” abandoned by God.
Even when ________________.
Let us trust in the steadfast love of the Lord!
Let us put our hope in Him as we look to the future!
Let us worship Him for His glory and goodness!
Brothers and sisters, I think it’s time to sing.