When You Feel Abandoned by God
By Dr. Robert Jeffress
We are entering into the most important week of the Christian faith—the week in which we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These events are the cornerstone of our faith. Yet, rarely do we focus on the agony of Good Friday on which Christ was crucified. If we do, we tend to emphasize the physical agony of His suffering, or the spiritual significance of the atonement that is described in 2 Corinthians 5:21.
This is the greatest exchange in human history. God took our unrighteousness and placed it on Jesus, and He took the righteousness of Christ and wrapped it around us.
I want to examine the emotional agony that Christ experienced on that day—agony that was the result of Christ feeling abandoned by God. Therefore, I want you to consider the implications of the sentence, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” These are the words of a man who feels abandoned, hurt, and disappointed by God. If you have ever felt that way—if you are experiencing those doubts right now—these last few hours of Christ’s life should be an encouragement to you.
Here are four truths about God’s dealings with His children that clearly come from Jesus’ own experience on the Cross.
1. Life is Unfair (Job 1:1)
Most of us live life with unspoken but very real expectations about God. We think in our minds: “If I obey God the best I can, everything will turn out OK.” Yes, life will be difficult at times but eventually, things will work out.
No one understood that better than Job. In a short period of time, he lost all of his possessions, he lost his children in a freak windstorm, and he eventually lost health.
However, the longer we live, the more we realize that God has made no such agreement with us. It becomes apparent that righteous living does not result in an automatic exemption from problems. That was the case with Jesus. He lived a perfect life, and His number one desire was to please God. For His trouble and effort, He ended up nailed to a cross.
2. God Does Not Always Deliver us from Our Problems (Matthew 27:41-43)
You may be thinking: “Alright, maybe God is going to allow me to experience hardship, but surely He will deliver me out of it if I pray. Right?”
But the fact is that God did not deliver Jesus out of His problem. From Jesus’ point of view, God abandoned Him, let Him down. Why? Because there is something positive and purifying about suffering that strengthens our faith. God is trying to develop a deep, mature faith in each of us that is independent of our circumstances. Faith that can say, like Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15).
3. God Rarely Explains the Reason for Our Suffering (Romans 8:28-29)
Jesus was the exception. He understood exactly why He had to suffer. He realized His death was part of a plan that was determined before the foundation of the world.
It’s very natural for us to want to try and understand why we are experiencing certain trials—but when we ask for an explanation from God we usually receive none. Why?
- Maybe God knows that an explanation would not ease the pain of our experience. It didn’t for Jesus. In Gethsemane, Jesus understood but prayed to be released, while sweating drops of blood. On the cross, nevertheless, He understood why God had deserted Him.
- More likely, the reason God does not explain is because He knows we could never understand His reason. God lives on a higher level than we do, He has a larger perspective. Thus, what seems unfair to those of us trapped in time and space makes sense to God who sees the end result.
4. For Christians, All Disappointment is Temporary (Matthew 27:50)
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.” – Matthew 27:50
From a human perspective it was all over. Every hope the disciples had of a new king and a new kingdom had been dashed. In the great conflict between good and evil, evil had won hands down.
But fortunately, verse 50 is not where the story ends. As we see in the account of the resurrection of Christ from the dead, God always has the final word.
If you are feeling trapped in pain, disappointment, loneliness that at times seems unbearable, you can have the assurance that heaven promises a time far longer than time spent on earth. This will be a time of unending health, wholeness, pleasure, and peace. Without that hope, there is no hope. That doesn’t mean that your heartache now is not real, only that it is temporary.
Full Passage: Matthew 27:45—50