• Jerry Starling

  • Search by Category

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 554 other followers

  • Pages

  • Blog Stats

    • 431,915 hits
  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Kevin on QUESTION: Who Was Pharaoh Duri…
    Jerry Starling on QUESTION: Where Does the Bible…
    Lenin Dorsey on QUESTION: Where Does the Bible…
    Matthews Bantsijang on SERMON: How to Stand Firm
    Abraham Uke on QUESTION: What Sin Does Not Le…
  • Top Posts

  • May 2011
    S M T W T F S
    « Mar   Jun »
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Archives

Has God Abandoned Me?


I get questions. The following came to me through our church website, http://www.Plymouth-church.com.

I am a Christian and have been one since my conversion in August 1999, I was 27 at the time.  For the past four or so years I have been struggling with feelings of guilt and condemnation.  I have not been following after Jesus like I should and I am left feeling like a huge failure and am so ashamed of all the time I have wasted not serving and loving more for Him.  I know I am saved, but feel so lost some times.

It seems like the harder I try to turn this around the worse I feel.  I am happily married to a wonderful Christian man who just says that I am too hard on myself.  I want to run away from life and hide but know that is not the right thing to do.  I wasn’t raised a Christian so I lack a lot of guidance on how I should live, act, feel, etc.  I want to do the right thing but mostly I just feel like a loser.

Has God given up on me?  Has He changed His mind about wanting me?  I have heard it said that He will only give you so many chances and then will leave you to yourself.  Has He done this to me?  I pray a lot and hope that He won’t leave me here.  Surely He hasn’t brought me this far to leave me.  Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Desperate for Him,

R____

PS. Just as a reference I have been told that I am suffering from depression because I and my husband are unable to conceive and I have recently lost my mother.  Could I be depressed?

Could you be depressed? It is possible, but it is not possible for me to diagnose that without knowing you – and even then, I do not have the professional ability to make such a diagnosis.

You are right to say that God has not brought you this far to leave you. As Paul wrote to the Philippian church,

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.(Philippians 1:6, ESV)

Remember the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. He went away from the Father (which it does not sound as if you have done), but the Father still ran to receive him back and to fete his return with the fattened calf.

You need to realize that even as forgiven people, we still need to continue to grow into the likeness of Jesus. That is not something that happens instantly at baptism. Even at the end of life, we will still be growing up into Him.

In Romans 7:15-24, even the apostle, Paul, expressed some of the same doubts and fears you have.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.

So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:15-24, ESV)

Note that he called himself a “wretched man.” Yet, in the next verse, he burst into praise of God:

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

In the next chapter, he continued by discussing how in Christ we are not condemned. Instead, we are moving toward full redemption from the practice of sin, even as we have already been forgiven of the guilt and delivered from the penalty of sin. Note especially Romans 8:26 to the end of the chapter:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:26-39, ESV – emphasis added)

It was not that he was content to go on serving the law of sin. He always sought to put to death that in him which was sinful. Yet, he recognized that in Christ Jesus, God accepted him by his faith.

You wonder if God will leave you to yourself after He has given you several chances. We are taught that we are to forgive others as God has forgiven us (see Ephesians 4:32).

How many times are we to forgive? When Peter asked this of the Lord, he thought he was being generous by suggesting seven times. The rabbis taught that you would forgive three times, but not a fourth. Peter doubled that and added one for good measure. Jesus replied,

I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:22, ESV)

I do not believe we are to calculate how many times we forgive – but are always to be ready to forgive.

God teaches us to forgive as he forgives us. This means he will always forgive one who comes home to Him.

Yes, there are those whom God gives up. These, however, are those who are refusing to retain Him in their knowledge and who insist on going their own way. You can read about them in Romans 1:18-31.

But What About My Feelings of Despair?

How then are you to deal with your feelings? It is by looking to God, not yourself. Do not adjust your feelings by looking at how many things you have done – but by looking at what God has done. As John wrote,

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything. (1 John 3:19-20, ESV)

Note that John did not say, IF our heart condemns us. He said WHENEVER our heart condemns us. It sounds as if John knew that we would all face times such as you are facing – times when we look at ourselves and wonder how God could possibly accept such a one as I.

Yet, He does accept us because of His great love for us. It was His love that caused Him to send His only begotten Son that we should not perish. It was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us – and we were not even sinners who were seeking Him. We were enemies of God when He reached out to us. (See John 3:16 & Romans 5:5-8.)

That love, of course, finds its pinnacle in Jesus – in His life and His death. We must also see His resurrection as an expression of God’s love, for it is in the resurrection of Jesus that we find hope and assurance.

The Holy Spirit is also a gift of God’s love to be our Comforter and Guide. The Spirit is the seal God places within us to mark us as His own and to preserve us to the heavenly kingdom. (See Ephesians 1:13-14, 18-20; 1 Peter 1:3-5.)

We can have assurance because God’s promise is sure. He is faithful who has promised! He has promised and sworn with an oath (see Hebrews 7:20-25). Because of this, Jesus always lives to make intercession for us.

Ultimately, it is because Jesus is “Our Man In Heaven” (as one commentary on Hebrews is named) that we have confidence. In 1 Timothy 2:5-6, Paul has this to say:

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

This means that we have as our advocate in Heaven the very Son of God Himself – who is one of us and who gave Himself for us.

No, our assurance is not in ourselves and what we have done; it is in what God has done and is doing for us. Our response to what God has done is to love Him and serve Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We will make mistakes of weakness – but He remembers that we are but dust and is merciful.

Can we “fall away” from Him? Yes, we can – if we lose our faith and our love. (Doubt for the moment is not losing your faith, and forgetting for a moment that God is our strength does not cause us to fall away from Him.) I speak here of a deliberate turning away from God, not of momentary lapses in our devotion.

I hope these few words will be an encouragement to you in your walk with Him.

May the God of all comfort take you in His arms;

May the Savior who loves you, shepherd you;

May the Holy Spirit fill you with love, joy, and peace;

May you find encouragement in a church that builds you up.

And may God grant that the demons in your heart be expelled by His eternal love.

Amen

Advertisements

One Response

  1. I received the following from “Anonymous Sister”.

    I have mentally composed letters to her describing what I have learned after my 30+ years of chronic depression. Through a good therapist I learned how to identify obsessive thoughts. I learned how to redirect my thoughts in order to avoid a “rut” that obsessive thoughts create in the brain pathways. Through a good and open group Bible study, I learned that the underlying issue was my lack of gratitude. I always thought that “if” circumstances could be thus or so, I would be happy. It took me until I was in my 50s to learn what I was dealing with, and then some more techniques came about in my 60s. God provides the tools for change when His child wants to change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: