God Forsaken

Yesterday, our sermonette speaker talked about the issue of God forsaken, and I must admit that I found the message to be very interesting if a bit of a scripture hunt.  As is sometimes the case when I listen to others talk, I tend to think about ways that a given message can be extended or what sort of reply that it needs.  In the case of this message, I must admit that I had an immediate thought of doing a personal reply, but I must admit that I find the issue of things being God forsaken to require more than merely a personal reflection.  There are a great deal of ironies that the issue of something or somewhere being God-forsaken, especially at this time of year, and it is worth exploring at least some of the different facets of this issue.

One of the most immediate ironies that pops up for me is that what for one person is a God-forsaken wilderness is for another person a perfect place to commune with God.  Very often in the Bible (and in other religious traditions) we find that the wilderness is a very common place for people to find dramatic mystical experiences.  Whether we are talking about Moses’ experience encountering God in the burning bush, or Elijah’s hearing of the still small voice, or Jesus’ encounter with Satan’s three temptations, all of these experiences happened in the wilderness, far away from others.  Even in our own day and time people enjoy traveling to remote national parks or doing long hikes in creation or going to waterfalls or forests or mountains to commune with God in creation.  People then write songs about the experience, like “Above The Timberline” by Five For Fighting, or write books like Bill Bryson’s “A Walk In The Woods” to express the spiritual value of such journeys.

Another one of the ironies of being God forsaken is that people worry so much about God forsaking them and often do not spend enough time thinking about the way that they forsake God.  I suppose such problems are fairly natural, though.  Psychologists spend a great deal of time and effort talking about projection, and even children are familiar with the concept when they say things like, “I know you are but what am I” in response to someone giving them an insult.  Any psychological concept that can be mastered by small children is likely one to be very common when it comes to the affairs of humanity.  Those who are the most afraid of the disloyalty of others are likely to be the most disloyal themselves, or are at least aware of the potential of their own disloyalty.  Yet it is often a hard thing to be aware of such matters ourselves, largely because we want to think ourselves to be good people, and so projection comes about (whether we are dealing with God or other people) because we are simultaneously knowledgeable but not willing to be aware of what we really are.

Finally, I would like to comment one additional aspect of being God forsaken, and that is the genuine fear that people have of the abandonment of God.  While Romans 8 is a go-to chapter when it comes to reflecting upon the ultimate plans for our good no matter what our current conditions are, there are some assumptions that Romans 8 makes that are not always encouraging to people who are concerned about being forsaken.  For one, Romans 8 assumes that the reader is someone who has been called according to God’s plan.  Yet when someone is struggling against despair, that is indeed the matter that is in dispute.  The promise of providential care is dependent on something that is in doubt, and in those circumstances it does not often provide an encouragement to those who are struggling to hope at all.  If people had hope that they were indeed being blessed in the future and that everything was going to work out well, they would not feel so forsaken at all to begin with.  Once one feels forsaken, how can such a condition be reversed?  If one needs hope to see the beneficial will that God has planned, how does one gain that hope to begin with?  These are matters that keep people awake at night, to be sure.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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3 Responses to God Forsaken

  1. Pingback: As Many As The Lord Our God Will Call: Part One | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Catharine Martin says:

    Introducing the human proclivity to project our emotions, fears and shortcomings onto others was on right on point, and we especially do this when it comes to God. Our instinct is to make Him in our image and, by doing so, we fear that He reacts to our failings the same way we do toward our own shortcomings. The cure is spiritual in nature. We must struggle to stop listening to the self-deprecating self-talk and cease from the judgmental finger-pointing–and start paying attention instead to what God Himself says on this subject.

    Those who finger-point are deflecting their own guilt by detecting sin in others and passing judgment on them and are warned of a quid pro quo judgment in the hands of Christ. This bodes disaster for them. Awful condemnation is their reward because they dare to take on for themselves a role that only Christ is qualified to fill (John 5:22, 27).

    God tells us that He will neither leave nor forsake us (Deut. 4:31, 31:8; Heb. 13:5). Any talk of forsaking is on man’s side, when he forsakes God, because God remains the same. He never changes (Heb. 13:8; Malachi 3:6). Their God-forsaken status is such because they do not want a relationship with Him. The land on which they stand is polluted by their sin and becomes desolate, spiritually as well as physically. Anything God-forsaken will end in death, and death itself will die (Rev. 20:14). Taking the knowledge that God’s love, mercy and compassion is endless–far above man’s–and bringing it to the level of belief and faith will help a person to get a better night’s sleep.

    • I thought I had commented on this but I see that I have not. I do agree with your thoughts here, although I found myself struck, as I often am, on the distance between what we view as God forsaken and God’s own views on the matter.

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