My God, My God (Psalm 22:1-5)
In February 2012, I was let go from Heritage Christian University because of fundraising issues. The same day I was let go, I started sending out resumes, and I got nibbles almost immediately. Those nibbles soon turned into interviews. I had an interview with a church nearly every Sunday. The boys, Tammy, and I traveled all over the South talking to churches.
But none of those churches in the first few months wanted to hire me. The interview would go very well, and the church would talk favorably. Then they’d bring someone in the next week, and they’d hire that guy. We went through that process about 15 times.
I was so frustrated and hurt that I seriously considered giving up ministry and trying to find something else to do. Tammy wouldn’t hear of it. She would gently push and encourage me. But one day, I was really down. As Tammy urged me go one, I told her that I was convinced that God had abandoned me. I was really starting to think that God—for his own reasons—had decided I wasn’t to be a preacher anymore, and he stopped blessing my search.
I’m confident there were times you’ve also felt abandoned by God. Maybe you felt abandoned by God when you had great health struggles. Maybe you felt abandoned by God when you lost a dear loved one. Maybe you felt abandoned by God when you lost a job. Maybe you felt abandoned by God when your marriage faced challenges.
David also knew what it was like to feel abandoned by God. He wrote Psalm 22:1-5 about his experience. In the psalm, David said, “Sometimes God seems far away.”
Scripture—READ Psalm 22:1-5
How can you keep your faith when you’re in David’s shoes and God seems far away?
You need to ponder—to think about—Jesus.
You see, Jesus quoted from this psalm as he hung on the cross—Matthew 27:46. You should take courage knowing that Jesus faced that same emotion of abandonment by God. Jesus—because he bore every sin of mankind—truly was abandoned by God. It was Jesus’s reality, not just the way he felt. Yet, after the experience of the cross, Jesus received honor and glory.
Even if you feel abandoned by God, once you get through the experience, you’ll find you’re blessed. After this world, Jesus will share with you his glory.
When God seems far away, you need to pray. Psalm 22 is a prayer—David was expressing his feelings to God. Jesus prayed these very words from the cross.
Tell God how you feel. Sometimes people are afraid to be brutally honest when praying to God. You must always be respectful! But there’s no reason not to be brutally honest. God always knows how you feel, and he’s big—he can handle your emotions. So many prayers in Scripture are brutally honest. Many psalms are very strong and powerful. Job wanted to argue forcefully with God. God said Job had spoken right of him (Job 42:7).
When God seems far away, respectfully tell him in prayer.
David, while lamenting his current state, looked to the past. His ancestors trusted in God and were not put to shame. David had claimed Yahweh as his God from his mother’s womb (v 10).
You need to get historical and go to the past when it seems God has abandoned you.
Look—like David—at how God has blessed his people in the past.
Look how God blessed his people when all hope seemed to be lost—at the Red Sea, Daniel in the lions’, or the exiles in Babylon. Understand God can bless you when all hope seems lost.
Look—like David—at your own life and see how God has blessed you in the past.
Look at the struggles and trials God has brought you through. Understand God can do so again.
You need to understand that—for the Christian—feeling abandoned by God is just a feeling, for God has made a promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5). In the darkest times in your life, you can hold to God’s promise he made you in the light: He will never leave you.
What a great promise!
This devotional was originally presented by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.