KNOW YOUR FAITH, LIVE YOUR FAITH,TEACH YOUR FAITH!

Does God abandon us in difficult times?

November 23, 2022

In some of our most difficult times, we are often tempted to think that God is not present with us. We feel like he is absent and has maybe even forsaken us. But is this true? Can we really believe what is said to us in Scripture and also believe that God has abandoned us? Stick around and lets investigate this together.

 

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.

Does God abandon us in our most difficult times? Is he absent from us when we are at our lowest state? Is it possible that because I don’t feel his presence or spiritually hear his voice that this means he is absent or has even forsaken me? Well the simple answer to all of these questions is “NO”! God never abandons us nor forsakes us. On the contrary, he is probably closer to us in our most difficult times more than we can know or understand. But how do we know this for sure? And how can I be reminded of this when I am so blinded by the difficulties that I face in my life? Hopefully, over the next few minutes, we will take the time to investigate together, just how faithful God is to us his children, and how he has made us many different promises through scripture which he always intends on keeping.

 

There is a very famous passage in the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew which speaks beautifully to the idea of how sometimes our problems have a way of making us forget who our God is. This passage is found in chapter 14, and speaks about how Jesus called Peter out to walk on water.

The passage begins by describing how Jesus was on the mountain by himself praying, while the disciples were on the boat by themselves when and the weather was quite disturbing. Scripture says that while the boat was being tossed around by the waves, and clearly the disciples were in danger, the Lord came to them walking on the water. And this is what happens next:

25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat [came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

I need to all pay attention to something so important: Peter only began to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus and allowed himself to only focus on the chaos surrounding him. As long as he had focused on Jesus, who came to him in the midst of his troubles, Peter was perfectly fine and even walked on water as he approached his Lord. This story is you and I’s story! We forget who it is that is calling us to walk on water – to overcome our troubles by going towards Him! And just like Peter, we allow our troubles, which distract us and manage to capture all out attention, we allow ourselves to believe, even for a split second, that our problems and bigger than our God. And this is greatest of lies – our God who is almighty, creator of the universe, our God who offered himself entirely to us, who has not withheld anything from us, not even the life of His only begotten son…we believe the lie that our daily problems and struggles and fears are no match for our mighty God. How foolish of us!

Many today would look at St Peter and want to tell him: But Peter! You are the one who saw him walking on water. You saw that he had authority over all the laws of nature. You are even the one who suggested that he call you out on the waters! Peter, you even took steps on the water and through him overcame the laws of nature…how could you doubt after all of that because of some boisterous winds? Well, if I am being truthful, the same can be asked of me? How many times have I fallen in the trap of thinking that my current problem was bigger than my God? How many times have I failed to remind myself of all the wonderful things God has done in my life? How any examples do I have in my own life of the times God has never forsaken me, but rather, in his perfect time, He comes through for me and everything works out in the end. You see my beloved, I am Peter! I know who it is that calls me out to walk on water, to overcome my problems with and through Him, and yet I take my eyes of him. And this is the first and most important piece of this discussion: when facing difficult times, I should never remove my eyes from my Savior.

 

Now that my eyes are locked in on my beloved Jesus, and I asking him to call me out on the waters, the next important step is to remind myself of all his promises to me. Offered to us in scripture, God speaks to all of humanity thousands upon thousands of promises. And we know that he is faithful in keeping all of them for us. St Clement of Rome, the first century Bishop of the church, he writes to us and says:

“Having then this hope, let our souls be bound to God who is faithful in His promises, and just in His judgments. He who has commanded us not to lie, shall He Himself lie?” (St Clement of Rome)

St. Clement is clearly encouraging you and me to recognize that God would never break his own promises to us when He is the author of truth. If the Lord has made us promises, then we ought to trust in his faithfulness. To trust that He will surely come through in the right time and place and in the way that is best for me. It is God who tells me:

“Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalms 50:15)

And again:

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

This same God who promises to deliver me, to strengthen me, to help me – this God is for me! He wants to fulfill his promises to me and desires only good for me. It is he who says to me:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

When I place all of these promises before my eyes, when I engrave them on my heart that I may never forget them, only then will I be equipped with the power of scripture to silence the voices of demons that try to tempt me with despair and hopelessness. When those same demonic voices whisper to me that he has abandoned me, that he has forsaken me, that he is not faithful. I will be able to answer back with scripture and be reminded of all the times that the Lord has come through for me.

My beloved, be encouraged and know that the Lord is for you and desires only your salvation. While he does not promise a life of comfort nor a life that is free from troubles and struggles, he does promise that “all things work together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28).

And when you feel like you are growing impatient, and you are awaiting for him to come to you, walking on the water, be encouraged by the words of those who came before us and have tasted the fullness of his life. Listen and be encouraged by the words to St Pachomious who says:

“It is patience that reveals every grace to you, and it is through patience that the saints received all that was promised to them.” [St Pachomious the Great]

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