Have you ever been forgotten?

Posted: October 5, 2020 in Uncategorized
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I have been despised since before I could walk or talk. Despised by my parents and by family members. I was always meant to feel like an outsider—Different from everyone else in the family…Except for my youngest sister. 

She was born on my 14th birthday and I was told that she was my birthday present. (I wanted an art set) Because I was so upset about it, my mother made me be my new baby sister’s caregiver. I was forced to feed her, changed her diapers, take her on outings…Basically, I was forced to do what a parent should do. But what was meant to be my punishment created a bond between me and my sister that no one else in my family had. And we continue to remain close to this day. 

Growing up, there were several times that I should have been killed. I was tricked into running across a street and was hit by a car—twice; my brother tried to drown me at a lake; I was malnourished and ended up in the hospital with anemia. But for whatever reason, God chose to save my life. Because of my childhood trauma brought on by emotional, physical and sexual abuse, I had many unhealthy relationships, got involved with drugs and alcohol, all the while, trying hard to be accepted; to somehow fit in. 

 I was in my early twenties when I discovered God’s love for me and surrendered as much of my life as I knew how to do. My life seemed to turn around. I was joyful in my salvation and was excited to share this good news to as many as I could. I continued to study the Bible and fellowship with other Christians. I was hungry to learn more about this Jesus who saved my soul. I developed many relationships with other Christians and finally felt accepted, loved and had a sense of belonging. I was even able to sense God’s presence. 

Then tragedy struck when my only son was killed by a drunk driver on his way to work. I spent months in seeking answers from the Bible and in prayer and weeping on my face before God. Pouring out my heart and soul to Him, repenting from any sin that I could think of that may have been hidden from me. And through that process of praying, fasting and studying God’s word, I discovered that most of what I was taught in church wasn’t even in the Bible! Thus began my journey of seeking God’s truth from His word and trying my best to obey. I since have learned that is is true that: “…For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” —1 John 5:2-3 

But I also realized that that verse, and others like it, go against everything that is taught in the church. And many Christians that I thought were my friends turned against me simply because I spoke the truth from God’s word. Many times I have cried out to God on behalf of His church; to open their hearts and minds to His truth; to send revival. But for over five years I have not seen any positive results of my prayers and I felt like God had forgotten me. I cried out to God but it felt like I was speaking to the air. Even though my faith in God remained strong, I no longer felt His presence; no longer had His joy as I did before. 

But then I read Psalm 22 and I know that I’m not the only one who has felt this way. The practice of pouring out our heart and soul to God is not new. In fact, in the Psalms, we hear David’s lament, who pulls no punches right from the beginning: “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” David not only brought his pain honestly to God and poured out his frustration and hurt, but he left that hurt in God’s hands. He doesn’t try to be anything more than he is. He has been totally, authentically, human before God.  And that authenticity and honesty brought healing and a renewed faith. 

David worshipped God in the midst of His pain. And even though he was feeling abandoned enough to cry out, “Where are you God?” he wasn’t going by the way he felt, but he looked past his feelings—he relied on his faith. Faith in his relationship with God, faith in the steadfastness of God and faith in the promise of God to always be with him. 

Imagine a young boy who goes with his dad to the local department store to help pick out a gift for his mother. The boy is so happy to be with his dad and to be included in picking out the perfect gift for his mom. But as they’re walking through the store the boy gets sidetracked from all the sights and sounds around him and suddenly he realizes that he’s alone in this giant store and his dad is nowhere around. He calls out for his dad and watches as so many people walk past him. Fear grips him as he begins to whimper and continues to call out for his dad. Then he begins to panic.  “Where is he? Why did he leave me all alone? How could he forget about me?” 

If you’ve ever seen a child in that state, you know they don’t just whimper—they cry out with loud, wailing cries, in the hope that someone will hear them and help him find his dad. Several people stop and try to comfort him, but none can help. Because he isn’t crying out for just anyone, he’s are crying out for a specific person. He’s crying out for his Dad. Then suddenly, he hears a soft voice behind him say, “Buddy, where’ve you been? I’m been looking for you.” He turns around and sees—it’s Dad! And his tears of fear and panic turn into tears of joy. The child then remembers that his relationship with his dad, that he questioned earlier, holds a history of love, caring and steadfastness. And he cries out, “Daddy! I knew you would come!” In spite of his panic and confusion the little boy was confident that his daddy still loved him. That is the faith of a child that we all need.

But for many of us (myself included), it’s not always that simple. We often don’t have the ability to look past our situation when we are in so much pain and despair. Pain from the economy, from family crisis, from betrayal, from depression, from trauma and we don’t know what will happen to us next—how bad will things get?  And just like the little boy lost in the department store we begin to panic and say, “Where is God? Why did he leave me all alone? How could he forget about me?” And we can feel forsaken. It happened to Elijah. It happened to Jeremiah. It happened to Isaiah. It happened to the apostle Paul. And it happens to all of us. 

In fact, we recognize that Psalm 22 are the very words that Jesus cried out from the cross. By the time he spoke them, he had been hanging on the cross for six hours! And in his darkest hour Jesus allowed his pain to rise up amidst the scoffers and mockers, to call on the most radical part of his faith!  And there on the cross, with the sun setting, Jesus, lets out a wailing cry from deep within: “My God, My God!  Why have you forgotten me?” But by using those particular words—the words which would have been so familiar both to him and to his followers, Jesus not only cries out to his father, but he reminds everyone who can hear him, reminds himself, and reminds us, that we are in a relationship with a God that is still in control! 

Jesus’ suffering also teaches us that no matter how things may look right now, even in the middle of this wilderness of waiting—when we can’t feel God coming toward us, God is there. And it is in that agonizing place that fear and aguish can become a place of hope—a hope that remembers and affirms that God has never abandoned or forgotten us, no matter how we feel. 

We have to remember that God has come through for us in the past, and that memory is still there somewhere. So even through the tears and pain, those memories fuel our hope, until we hear that still small voice above the sounds of the scoffers and wild dogs, softly at first perhaps, but growing ever stronger as we realize that we are still in God’s tight embrace once more. In fact, we have been there all along—wrapped up in His loving arms.  And just like that scared and confused little boy, we can say, “Daddy! I knew you would come!” 

“For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.” (Psalm 22:24)

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