Friday Thoughts: Never Forsaken
Joy and I are five weeks away from celebrating our 25th anniversary. As we look back through those years we quickly recognize the faithfulness and steadfastness of God. One of the means that God has used to remind us of his faithfulness in our lives has been through Joy's pen (or keyboard). Joy had a blog called "Cross Reflections" for a number of years and it is in those blogposts that we now look back on and are able to recount God's faithfulness to us in not only his provision for us materially but his revelation to us of his character seen so beautifully at the cross. Every once in a while I will be posting one of Joy's posts from years past. I do this with the hope that all who read these posts will identify in some way with our struggle to trust God in the midst of the details of our lives and be encouraged and strengthened by the truth that Joy writes about.
The following post was written in 2007.
Our gracious God spoke to me this morning. It wasn’t a flash of thunder or a lightning bolt of revelation, just a quiet connecting of dots in my prayer closet. His spirit was testifying with my spirit and I was changed. I wasn’t in there for three hours, in fact it was more like 30 minutes. The speaking had absolutely nothing to do with my faithfulness in prayer and Bible study though I was doing those things by God’s grace. But I’m getting ahead of myself so please oblige me to back up a bit.
Here is the background. This week has been a week of faithlessness on my part. Living with fear of the future, hopelessness, and despair regarding our present circumstances has made me question God rather than my own sinfulness. I have been violating a clear command of scripture to not be anxious thinking that I have good reason. Rather than focusing on Christ my eyes have been on my own wants and desires for a comfortable life.
In the midst of this there have been encouraging words from friends and increased fellowship with my husband as we walk through this together and assurance that I do indeed belong to Christ. These are precious indeed but the real breakthrough came this morning in my prayer closet.
Here’s how it played out. I have Psalm 90:14 written on a piece of matboard that hangs in my prayer closet. It says, "satisfy me in the morning with your steadfast love that I may rejoice and be glad all my days." When I see that each morning I try to remember to ask God to satisfy me with his steadfast love. This morning the second half of the verse arrested my attention. Why do we want God to satisfy us with his steadfast love? So that we may be glad all of our days. That is a self-serving reason, but it’s right there in the Bible. Being satisfied with God brings us joy. John Piper may be on to something.
I am reading through the New Testament one chapter a day this year and taking notes in my journaling Bible. This morning I read Matthew chapter 27, the account of the crucifixion. I was frustrated by my own lack of feeling as I read these very familiar verses. Not ready to go to prayer just yet I pulled out a devotional book that I use on occasion called Pearls of Great Price by Joni Eareckson Tada. I read these words:
"Nothing is more suffocating, more soul stifling than the feeling of hopelessness. When you’ve tried every option, it’s despairing to think that you’ve come to the end of your rope with no aid in sight. Hopelessness breeds when we fail to sense God’s hand in the hardship, or the presence of his help. It’s demoralizing to feel as though God is off somewhere, distracted by the needs of more obedient saints.""Hope is built on fact. And the fact is God never becomes distracted from your life. He never takes time off from tending to our needs. When troubles come, he doesn’t back away to allow Satan a free hand. Today’s verse [God is our refuge and strength, and ever present help in trouble Ps. 46:1] assures that not only is the help of God available and accessible at all times but God himself is the always-present help in every trial."
You see behind my anxiousness lies a suspicion that God will tire of "bailing us out" of our troubles. This in itself is a failure to recognize God’s sovereignty in putting us in this situation in the first place. â€¨â€¨Here is where the dots got connected in my mind. After reading the devotional, God brought to mind the verse from Hebrews where God promises to never leave us or forsake us. Then God brought to my mind the crucifixion account I had just read. Jesus cries out, "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" Then it dawned on me that I deserve to be forsaken. My sins are enough to stir up God’s justice against me and have him forsake me but instead he forsook his own son. I will never have to endure God forsaking me because Christ took this on my behalf. â€¨â€¨Then came a conviction of sin. Why do I suppose God will get tired of helping me? Because I am often sinful in my own reactions towards the needs of others. I want everything to get fixed as quickly as possible for my own ease and comfort. Because of this I can get impatient with a child who keeps making the same error over and over, the friend who keeps struggling with the same despair, or the person who doesn’t seem to be listening to the help I try to offer. It is a dangerous thing for me to project my own sinfulness onto God. We are told over and over that God is slow to anger, gracious, compassionate, long suffering, ready to help. â€¨â€¨What’s my response? Turn from this sin of distrust. Turn towards the sovereign Lover of my soul and rejoice in all that he is. I am never forsaken. Praise God!
It is my prayer for all of us at Sovereign Grace Church to know, to really know, that God never tires of caring for us, helping us, saving us. May we trust the One who will not forsake us and rest in his unchanging love towards us in Christ and may we increasingly reflect this untiring and patient care as we spend time with those we have been given the privilege to live and work with.
With much affection for you all,
Pastor Steve (and Joy)