Imagine a young toddler who is afraid of something in front of him. He begins to cry and turn backwards. As a parent, what do you do? You probably pick him up, comfort him, and softly repeat, “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.” The young child finds peace in the repetition of your words. Your words are truthful. You would never willingly lead your own child into danger. Your Heavenly Father gives you the same reassurance. He repeats this promise numerous times in His holy word, (they are listed for you in the “Readings” section,) and He means it. He will never leave you.
Then Why Does It Seem Like He is Gone?
While devotionals, reading, and prayer help us grow closer to God and be more like Him, no human mind will ever fully comprehend His ways. It is not too different than a toddler who cannot fully reason like an adult. A toddler relies on you for guidance and protection. Sometimes God uses seemingly difficult life experiences to mold you and shape you into a better person. Sometimes He answers a prayer with a “no” because He has something better in store or the timing is not perfect. He is not absent from your life. If you welcome and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and turn to Him in prayer, He will be near you always.
Just like parents are happy or troubled depending on their children’s state, God also experiences emotions with us. He sent His son, Jesus, to the earth to become fully human. Jesus is still fully God at the same time, but He feels. Although He is about to raise him from the dead, the Bible tells us “Jesus wept” when He finds His dear friend, Lazarus, dead (John 11:35, New International Version). Our world has sin, sickness, grief, and death. Even Jesus experienced these things. God never promised a life without pain on Earth. He does promise a heaven free from all pain to all who believe. This is not our home. Our true home is in heaven with Him. Our God is busy preparing a place for us in paradise. He is not gone. He is preparing a better future.
Sometimes, though, it is hard to remember God’s promise when we are in the midst of grief. Although she was a true believer, Mary cried out “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). Even a “good Christian” will sometimes wonder, “If only God had done this! Where was He?” Again, the answer is preparing a better future. In the story of Lazarus, Jesus had not prevented Lazarus’ death. What He did was even more miraculous. He raised him from the dead (John 11:38-44)! When things don’t go your way, rejoice. They are going God’s way, and His way is always more amazing than what your human mind can plan on its own.
Is there a Biblical Example?
There are probably hundreds of examples of times when Biblical characters felt forsaken only to receive a direct reminder from God that He was with them. One of the clearest illustrations of such devotion to His people is in Moses’ story in the book of Exodus.
Moses’s people, the Israelites, were enslaved by the Egyptians and severely oppressed, yet God chose Moses to lead them out of Egypt into “a land flowing with milk and honey” (3:17). This was not an instantaneous fulfillment. The Israelites grumbled numerous times to Moses saying that God had forsaken them and they would have been better off staying in Egypt (Exodus 5:22-23, 6:9, 14:11-12, 15:24, 16:3, 17:2).
The journey was not easy. Why not? Because the Israelites had to condition themselves to turn to God for their help and support. They got to witness His miracles:
- Plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the firstborn that touched every Egyptian, but none of the Israelites
- The parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites followed by its return to flowing water that swallowed only the Egyptians
- A land covered with quail at night and bread like dew in the morning as food for the Israelites
- Water from a dry rock
God upheld his promise. Numerous times throughout this journey, things got difficult for Moses and the Israelites. Yet, numerous times, God showed – in marvelous ways – that He was there!
How About a Modern-Day Example?
Let’s begin by revisiting the picture of a young toddler. He is throwing a tantrum. You will not let him eat an entire family-size bag of candy. He is not getting his way. You probably chuckled at this. You know that you would not allow it because you understand what is best for the child. That much candy will upset his stomach among other negative consequences. You have better things in store for his diet and well-being and will allow occasional treats instead.
Does this happen with adults? Absolutely! Adults pray for things like fixes for relationships that are not healthy. God says “No” only because He loves us and has a better mate in store. We complain just like the Israelites. “If only God had intervened, I wouldn’t have been late.” But God may have held us back on purpose in order to protect us from an accident or to put us in a place where we were needed. The list could go on and on, but the point is, none of us is much different than the Israelites, or even the toddler. We each need to understand that God is not absent. He is there and He is working all things for good. That’s His promise, and He will uphold it for all eternity.
Things do not always go my way. I praise you for that, God, because when they do not, I turn to You for strength and help. Your ways are always greater. My troubles on earth help me remember that promise. You are always with me. You will never leave me nor forsake me. Your promises are true and good.
In Jesus’ name,
Joshua 1:5, 1:9
1 Kings 8:57
1 Chronicles 28:20
1 Corinthians 10:13