The best thing about being a Christian is knowing that God is always with you. The worst thing is when he goes away and leaves you.
“Ah â€“ but he doesn’t actually leave you. It’s only your feelings going wrong.” So say the lucky people who have never felt deserted by God!
Some of the people in the Old Testament knew what it’s like.
God has wronged me and drawn his net around me.
Though I cry “I’ve been wronged!” I get no response;
though I call for help, there is no justice.
He has blocked my way so that I cannot pass;
he has shrouded my paths in darkness.
O Lord you deceived me and I was deceived.
The trouble is â€“ it happens. And when you feel deserted by God, where are you but in hell?
Can Jesus help in this sort of hell?
Jesus grew up knowing and enjoying God. He loved getting away to talk to God for hours. He shared God’s secrets. He called God his father â€“ even his Daddy. His delight was to do what his father wanted. Communion with God was in his very nature.
Then after a lifetime of loving and serving his father, he faced his crisis. He was arrested and there was no help from God. Of course, he didn’t expect any help, he knew he had to go through with it. But he also knew that God was still with him. Next day, even during the agony of being crucified, he still talked to his God. “Father forgive them . . .” At his lowest point his sense of God remained. He knew his father was with him. But suddenly – all was changed. The cloud came down. The heavens became black. “Father, where are you? I can’t see you. I can’t feel you. What’s happened? You’ve always been with me. You were there yesterday as they tortured me. You were there this morning as they drove in the nails. Now suddenly you’re gone! Why? My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” The unthinkable had happened. Jesus had lost his faith.
We know the sequel. (Where would we be without the sequel?!) The blackness did not last. Triumph and resurrection followed. With hindsight the crisis was a short one. But what use is hindsight when you’re struggling with the blackness? What use is Jesus’ resurrection when you’re not even sure he exists? God has deserted you. There’s no reason to believe anything. You’re drowning. Is there no lifeline? YES there is! When you feel abandoned by God, Jesus has already been there. He KNOWS!
There may be no other reason for being a Christian â€“ but this is reason enough.
References: Job 19.6-8; Jeremiah 20.7; Luke 2.41-52; Matt 14.23; Matt 11.25-27; John 5.20; Mark 14.36; John 6.38; Matt 26.50-54; Luke 23.24; Matt 27.45,46