We’ve all been there at one time or another – probably more often than we would want to admit to ourselves or to others. But times of feeling deserted and alone come to each one of us, it is inevitable. Even Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” as He hung, dying on the cross. Centuries earlier, King David cried out to God with those same words, which we read in Psalm 22,
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer, by night, and am not silent.” (Psalm 22:1-2)
My times of greatest need are often the times when I feel most alone. People I counted on are nowhere to be found and I am left to face a particular trial or life circumstance alone. Job felt this way, even though three “friends” initially came to advise him during his prolonged time of hardship and loss. But Job was looking for God during his time of tribulation. In fact, Job was desperate to find God, desperate to hear a word from God. We read about it in Job 23 where Job says,
“If only I knew where to find Him (God); if only I could go to His dwelling! . . . But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him.” (Job 23:3-9)
I can relate to Job – longing to feel God’s presence, searching desperately for Him, and feeling He is nowhere to be found. I am left abandoned and alone to face life’s current trial – or so I believe. Job had done the work, he had sought God everywhere (east, west, north, south) but to no avail. Time to give up, right? But at this point Job says something surprising, when he says,
“But He (God) knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” How unexpected. Job can’t find God but even in the midst of his apparent abandonment, he states that he still has faith in God. Job says he knows, not just wishes or hopes, but he knows that God knows where he, Job, is. Job knows he is not lost to God, even though he feels God is lost to him at the moment.
Even in his darkest hour, Job testifies that God is not oblivious to his circumstances but knows exactly what he is going through and sees exactly where he is. (“He knows the way that I take”) And even more surprising, Job acknowledges his belief in God’s goodness, even after complaining that God is nowhere to be found, when he says that he, Job, will come forth as gold. In other words, Job believes God will bring him safely and victoriously through his circumstances, even though at the moment, he feels alone and abandoned by everyone, including God.
I wonder if that’s how the three in King Nebuchadnezzar’s red-hot furnace felt? Did they wonder where God was in their trial? Turns out, God was right there in the furnace with them – whether they were aware of it at the time or not.
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, O king.’ He said, ‘Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’ ” (Daniel 3:24-25)
God’s presence delivered the three, unbound and unharmed, from the fire in the furnace. God’s presence will deliver me. Even when I am feeling forsaken, I need only remember His promise in Deuteronomy 31:8,
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
I am not alone, I am not forsaken. My Heavenly Father always knows the way that I take. He is in the furnace with me! (even if I can’t see Him, like Job couldn’t)
“God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
sincerely, Grace Day