Posted by: Nancy Day-Achauer | October 13, 2009

Abandoned by God

     I preached on Job the other day and no, I didn’t preach about having patience – I preached about feeling abandoned by God. Mention Job and people always think of having patience. Funny thing is Job wasn’t very patient. He complained a lot and wanted to take God to court. (Read the book, it’s sooo different from what people expect.) Most of us haven’t experienced loss and suffering on the scale of Job but many people are going through tough times, really tough times, and some of them are feeling abandoned. Many people are wondering where God is in the midst of their suffering. Some people are wondering if God has abandoned us, or maybe doesn’t even exist, because there’s so much suffering in the world.

     Life can be very hard sometimes, things can happen that rock, if not almost destroy, our world. Loved ones become chronically ill, people are killed, and jobs are lost. Our relationships can hurt us deeply, family members betray us, friends let us down, and loved ones leave us. Natural disasters destroy homes and communities. Economies crumble, crime increases, wars break out, and famines and disease run rampant. It is easy to look at our lives, our communities, and our world and think that God must be absent.

     I believe that we often feel abandoned, not because God isn’t there, but because we don’t recognize God at work in our midst. We keep looking for burning bushes, voices of thunder, and larger than life miracles. We fail to see the subtle ways God works and we often don’t recognize it when God works through ordinary people. I believe that quite often people assume that God is not active in the world because God is not doing things the way they think God should. People often want God to be present on their terms rather than on God’s terms. They want miracles, they want God to be like Superman and swoop in to save the day. They want God to live up to their image of the divine.

     God’s Holy Spirit is always out in the world working to compel people to be God’s hands and feet. Sometimes God is present in the form of a friend who quietly listens to you share your pain and grief. Other times, God is present in simple acts of generosity. I was walking my dog in the neighborhood recently and passed a couple of neighbors on the street. The man was handing his next door neighbor a bag of groceries and the woman was shocked and moved by the gesture. It turns out the woman’s husband was fighting in Iraq and she and the children were having trouble making ends meet. The man heard of her situation and felt compelled to help her out by buying her family some groceries. God was present that day on a sidewalk in Delaware.

     All those little inklings you have about saying and doing things to help and comfort others are inspirations planted in you by God’s Holy Spirit. All those times when you find yourself saying, “I wish I could help” that’s the Holy Spirit nudging you to take action. Don’t look for God to speak to you through a burning bush or a voice of thunder. Expect God to speak to you through an inner voice, through circumstances, through the Bible, through prayer, through people, and through the church. God is speaking to you through all of these mediums and God will empower you to do God’s work if you allow it. The world can be a tough place where people feel abandoned but God has empowered us to change that; people are to feel God’s presence through us.

     Folks, God is present and active in the world everyday and in everyplace. God doesn’t abandon God’s children. When it feels like God is absent it’s because people are resisting God’s work in them, they are resisting saying and doing the things that God instills in them. God works through people but God refuses to overpower people and make them do things. Everyday, we have the opportunity to live God’s call on our lives. When we respond to God the people we encounter will know that God has not abandoned them because they will experience the presence of God through us. We are not abandoned.  God works through people, people like you.

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Responses

  1. Thanks Nancy I needed this!!!!!!!!!

  2. Amen, Nancy! Well said!

  3. Thanks for you for this passionate post. Whenever I feel doubt attempting to creep into my mind I remind myself that the righteous have never been forsaken – and that God’s promises are true. It’s only a common lie of the adversary that tries to convince me otherwise.

  4. Yes, but what about the innocent young child that is helplessly kidnapped tortured and even murdered? Or the 10 mo. old baby who is raped and killed by some sick old man? I am a Christian but I so struggle with these attrocities in life…wondering where God is in those moments and why those young children are put through so much torture. Please help me understand. I know God is real…I have felt his prescence in and throughout my life. But when I look outside my own life and see others in this world suffering so, it breaks my heart.

    • Most Christians share your struggle. God gave all of Creation free will and humanity has abused it. We want our free will, we don’t want to be God’s puppets, and yet we also don’t want free will because there are negative consequences. God is horrified by what we do and we will be held accountable but God’s love for us prevents God from enslaving us by taking away our freedom. I found a book recently that you may find helpful for coming to terms with this challenging part of the Christian life. The book is “Why?” by Adam Hamilton and it is excellent at addressing this issue in ways that are easy to understand. Blessings on your faith journey.


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