“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” -Judges 6:13
Have you ever wondered whether The Lord has forgotten all about you? Well, that’s a normal and very common thought when we, even believers in Christ, go through our tough battles of stress and strife in this world. Can you really blame the Israelites for murmuring and complaining to God when they were suffering from thirst, hunger, and fatigue in the middle of the desert heat? Yes, it was sin, and yes, it was brought about by their lack of faith in God but come to think of it, all of us would be reacting in the same manner. All of us had our very own desert experience in this life and all of us reacted in a way no different from the Israelites during the Exodus. We actually believed that God has abandoned us.
These ‘desert experiences’ where we find the children of God suffering and murmuring is nothing new to us and the Bible. Besides the people of Israel during the Exodus, here are some examples of Bible Patriarchs who seemed to be forgotten and left to rot by God.
Jacob: A man ultimately blessed by God who once owned a mere walking stick and ended up being Israel – the nation of God’s chosen people. He was blessed with health, wealth, and a great family but because he chose his way (Shechem) rather than obeying God’s word (Bethel), his daughter ended up getting raped and his sons ended up killing the people responsible for it (Genesis 34).
Lot: A righteous man who decided to live with the world. In the end, the people whom he chose to live with decided to “hurt” him. Ok I’ll expound: They wanted to rape the male guests of Lot to the point that Lot had to offer the perverted people his 2 virgin daughters. Thankfully, Lot’s guests were actually angels from heaven. Catch all of the excitement in Genesis 19.
Paul: One of the greatest Apostles of Bible history, went through tons of torturous punishments and trials because he did not listen to the warnings of The Holy Spirit (Acts 20:23, Acts 21:4, Acts 21:10-14).
It seems like people who chose their way apart from God’s counsel always end up in trouble.
Why is this? Because God is an honorable God. He will take care of you and protect you as promised BUT if you don’t want Him around, He will not force His favor and protection on you. Like all gifts and promises, we have to accept it first! Take the case of Paul for example, The Holy Spirit was actually urging him not to go to preach (in Acts 20 and Acts 21) but Paul was too proud to turn back and listen to what God really wants. Now, does Paul have a right to say: ”God abandoned me?” We simply cannot refuse God’s wisdom and counsel and blame Him at the same time.
Going back to Lot, Lot got everything from the favour of God through his uncle, Abraham. Did God tell Lot to leave from his uncle’s estate? I don’t think even Abraham wanted Lot to leave, but Lot chose his way. All these Sodom and Gomorrah trouble was the decision of Lot and Lot alone. Lot has no one to blame but himself.
Similar to these great men in the Bible, our desert experiences of feeling abandoned by God were all caused by our overestimation of ourselves. Call it pride or self-righteousness, it is the time where we believe that we should be making our own decisions instead of God. This is why God forbade Adam and Eve from partaking of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil because it is NOT for us. Our place is with the fruit of Life which points to a total dependence on God through Jesus Christ. We always want things done our way but if things don’t go as we wish, we blame the one whom we refused in the first place.
God has always been true to His word. To be honest, it is us who turn our backs to God and for this reason, all our desert experiences come out. The truth is that God has never left us and through the cross of Jesus Christ, God never ever will.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
Even after the rape of his daughter and the troubles his sons got their family into (Genesis 34), Jacob’s revelation about God never changed:
We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.”
Let us not put our trust in man or in any man-made system. Because ALL of them are designed to fail. Let us put our trust in The Man who had to courage to guarantee that He will never fail you and whose track record is impeccable. The One who promised that He will come for us and save us, even if it means His life. Let us invite Jesus Christ in our lives and in our situations and you will see the truth, that He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.
* Image taken from Google Images [Edited]