Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where is God?

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

These are not the words of a person who has no faith.  These are not the words of a person who doesn't know God.  These are the words of Jesus in the midst of agonizing pain on the cross in Matthew 27:46 and I'm so glad he said them!  Why?  Because knowing that even Jesus felt this way at least once enables us to be gentle with ourselves when we feel the same way.  Sometimes in the midst of great pain and difficulty we don't feel God around us at all.  We feel forgotten and forsaken.  We can't help but ask, "Where is God?"  Often we feel guilty or make others feel guilty for asking such a question, but this question is an authentic part of the journey with God.

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Jesus was not the first person to ever say this or feel this way.  He is quoting Psalm 22, written a thousand years before his time.  People on the journey have been wrestling with this for a very long time: the felt absence of God in the presence of real pain.  I don't believe that God disappears when we are hurting, but that sometimes the pain we experience in life is so great it becomes all that we can see, all that we can feel.  It can become so overwhelming and blind us to everything else.  When you have lost your mother to cancer and you're only a teenager, when you have had 3 miscarriages in a row but still no children, when the love of your life has left you and has shattered your heart to pieces, it is hard to feel God, hard to see God in your life, hard to believe that God is still there.

Feeling this way is ok.  Anyone on the journey will feel this way at one point or another.  Don't lie about it.  Don't pretend it's not there.  Don't feel guilty.  Feel what you're feeling and bring it all to God.  Your frustration, your disappointment, your anger, your rage, bring it all to God.  Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in feeling what you're feeling.  For thousands of years people on the journey have been struggling with the exact same feelings.  You are not alone.

I don't know why life can be so painful at times, but in moments when life has broken my heart and I can't see God and I can't hear God and I can't feel God, I sit and I wait.  I know that feeling forsaken is not the same as being forsaken.  I know that  I am surrounded by a God that I sometimes cannot feel because the pain gets in the way. And if knowing this isn't enough I sit and I wait until it is.

Following the Way,

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