What a powerful chapter. They have all been phenomenal chapters, but this one held a particularly powerful message, at least for me.
So many times during our lives, we feel abandoned. Some of us feel abandoned and unloved by our parents, unworthy of love. We are taught to be untrusting of anyone. Many of us feel there is no God. If there was a God, how could he let this happen? How could he let that happen? Where was he? Why is he ignoring me? I’ve prayed to him every single day for 5 years and has he shown me that he’s listening? Have you felt these things? Asked these questions? I have. I’ll be the first to admit it. I have totally felt the absence of God in my life – so many times. I finally realized one day that truth and feeling are two separate things. This chapter explains this in further detail by situations with people from biblical times. People of God – people God adored felt his absence. “On a single day, Job lost everything — his family, his business, his health, and everything he owned.” “. . . for thirty-seven chapters, God said nothing!” But was he really gone from him? Is he really gone from you? I know some of you feel or have felt his abandonment. The truth is, he has never left you for a moment of your entire life. He feels your struggles. He cries when you cry, just as a loving parent cries when you ache. See, everything in this life is a test. When he pulls back, he is simply testing you to see if you will continue to worship him and love him, even in the midst of complete chaos, complete confusion. Even in the most agonizing trial of your life, God may seem distant. It’s in these times, you prove your love and your devotion to him. In the most difficult times, he still wants your trust. How you handle these situations when it comes to God, shows him your level of spiritual maturity. Loving and trusting that God is still with you, no matter how you feel, is the deepest level of worship – not just worship, but important for the “development of your faith.”
“God is real, no matter how you feel.” You are not always going to feel his presence. Mr. Warren references Philip Yancey in this chapter. Mr. Yancey says, “Any relationship involves times of closeness and times of distance, and in a relationship with God, no matter how intimate, the pendulum will swing from one side to the other.” It nearly feels impossible to worship during those difficult times, doesn’t it?
My mom remarried when I was 14. She asked my permission. I told her that I never really had a father (not much of one, anyway – this is how I felt at the time), I didn’t need a father and if she was happy, then marry him, but he was NOT going to be my father.
Seven years it took me to realize this man wasn’t going anywhere, was not going to stop loving us, no matter how much hate and resentment I through his way. I threw him many a curve ball and he hit a home run every single time. Was he perfect? Nobody is perfect. We all have issues and shortcomings. Trust me. I have plenty. But he stuck it out. He always had Mama’s back and would never allow us to speak to her disrespectfully. You did not want to mess with this man. All hell broke loose when we disrespected Mama! I was not raised to respect. This man taught me not only respect for others, but for myself. He certainly won my respect. He was completely in love with my mother. They adored each other. He was a special person. When he died, we fell away from God again. I can’t really speak for Mama, because she deals with this on a whole different level. I mean, that was her soul mate, her best friend. God took him from us. I was angry, resentful, confused, hurt and a couple of handfuls of other emotions.
Did I question God? Of course I did. Was I angry with God? Yes. Did I cry and yell at him? Uh-huh. And then, I was silent. I ignored him the way I felt he was ignoring me and ignoring Mama, since she could find no comfort, as well. Did I question his existence? No. He had already proven to me many times that he was real. See my earlier couple of postings about miracles. Plus, I have Hallie, which is the answer to a life-long prayer. The girl is straight from heaven, sent by God himself, to make me grow and become a better person, a better parent – the kid is awesome, ok? Perfect? No. Oh, she gets in trouble and gets grounded plenty, but she takes it really well. 😉 She’s very understanding.
After Daddy died, I felt God was far away many times and some times, even now, feel his distance from me. I can never question that he’s real. I know he’s testing me. And even in these times when I feel like he’s far away, I still talk with him, question him, yell at him and this is also a form of worship. Worship isn’t always about I love you – Oh, how great you are – You are so wise and all-knowing – blah, blah, blah. He doesn’t expect us to always be ok with everything. He expects our honesty, our truth, our true selves. Don’t fake it. Don’t claim one thing and feel another. If you feel it, express it to him. He wants to hear what you have to say, what you feel, even if you are ticked off at him. When you do this, you are sharing your heart with him and he wants you to, no matter if you are feeling like loving him or hating him. When you express yourself to him, you are sharing your heart and this pleases him greatly.
“Seeking a feeling, even the feeling of closeness to Christ, is not worship.”
“When you are a baby Christian, God gives you a lot of confirming emotions and often answers the most immature, self-centered prayers — so you’ll know he exists.” Sound familiar? “But as you grow in faith, he will wean you of these dependencies.”
“God’s omnipresence and the manifestation of his presence are two different things. One is a fact; the other is often a feeling.”
“Remember what God has already done for you.” If you read the entirety of Page 128 and 129, you will realize how much God loves you, the most important and significant thing he ever did for your life on earth, as well as your future in heaven. He sent Jesus. Jesus suffered like no one has ever suffered. He could have gotten away from that suffering so easily, if he had lied, if he had refused God, refused us. He could have saved himself from torture and pain. He questioned God. He felt God had abandoned him. Do you think God abandoned him? He did not. Nor has he ever – nor will he ever abandon you. What Jesus went through? That was for God. That was for us. God wanted him to do that FOR US. Does that show you any amount of his love for you? THAT is a ton of love right there.
It’s Sunday people. Love the weekend! Don’t you? Y’all go out there and do something fun today, get a little rest, unwind, relax, play with your family, your furbabies. Do something that you enjoy. Share your love with someone. Do at least one thing that will make God smile. Think of him when ya do it. This will make your heart smile, too. Make it an awesome, inspiring day! Love you! *hug* *blowing a kiss* 😉