Tough Feelings, Gracious God: Forgotten and Abandoned

1How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
   How long will you hide your face from me?
2How long must I take counsel in my soul
   and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
   light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
   lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
   my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6I will sing to the Lord,
   because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13

Have you ever felt abandoned by God?

The pious Christian answer, we might think, is to say, “absolutely not! I’ve never felt alone and abandoned by God!”

And yet, the very prayer book of the Bible, the book of Psalms, includes this prayer in which the feeling of being forgotten by God is quite explicit. “Will you forget me forever?”

Now, before we rush to other verses, let’s acknowledge that sometimes we have felt abandoned and alone. There are times in life in which we feel as if God has forgotten us and that he’s just not there.

That feeling is real. Acknowledging the reality of that feeling is important. Talking to other Christians about it is okay. Talking to your pastor about feeling forgotten by God is not off limits or showing a lack of faith.

Talking to God and expressing this feeling to Him is not a lack of faith. In fact, it is an act of faith.

When you feel abandoned or forgotten, it’s okay to tell God how you feel. This psalm teaches to do exactly that!

But the act of praying to God is an act of faith. It is our acknowledgment that though we feel forgotten, we know that we are not forgotten. So we go to God and express how we feel, knowing that He is listening.

Psalm 13 begins with a desperate cry to God for help, but it ends with words of praise. The words of praise come because by faith we know that our prayer is heard, even if we feel alone, and that we are never alone because the Lord promised, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

So if you’re feeling abandoned and alone, tell God about it. Then go to His Word and read His promises.

Matthew 28:20b: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Romans 8:31-39: 31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For Reflection/Discussion

Read the section on the Lord’s Prayer from Luther’s Small Catechism focusing especially on The Introduction and The Conclusion.

http://catechism.cph.org/en/lords-prayer.html

  • With what mindset can we approach God?
  • Can we tell God how we really feel? Is that okay?
  • How can we know that God has not forgotten us or abandoned us?

Mental Health Resources

Mental Health First Aid Training: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/population-focused-modules/youth/

Suicide Prevention Hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training: https://www.sprc.org/resources-programs/qpr-gatekeeper-training-suicide-prevention

 

About the author

Ben Meyer is a husband, father, pastor and child of God. He has served as a pastor in Missouri, Illinois, and now at Hope Lutheran Church in Sunbury, Ohio and has presented at the Rural and Small Towns Missions national conference. He enjoys sports, fishing, hiking, reading, and spending time with his family.
View more from Ben

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