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Saturday, April 14, 2012

“...God has turned His back on me...”

Strong words, sometimes more felt, than allowed to pass from our lips, yet many feel this way when going through very difficult circumstances. Listen to the words of Naomi: “It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD’s hand has turned against me!” [Ruth 1:13 b, NIV] The International Standard Version reads, “the Lord is working against me!” Naomi had traveled with her husband and two sons to Moab in search of food for survival. After staying there for some time, her sons married Moabite women and later her husband and two sons died. Now left alone with no male survivors, that is, protectors and providers, Naomi was feeling totally abandoned. In that moment she felt as if the covenant keeping God [LORD or Yahweh] had forgotten His own covenant and she was left like a leaf in a wind storm.

We know the story and long to be able to whisper in her ear, “I know it’s bad, but God has something so incredible for you, just trust Him!” We know that God was using all these circumstances to bring Boaz and Ruth together, to supply for all her needs, to bless her with grandchildren, and eventually a king for Israel. Naomi did not live to see her great grandson, David, become king of Israel and had no idea of the great things God would bring about through the tragedy. On an even greater level, nor could she have perceived what God would do through this linage: the birth of God’s Messiah, Jesus!

It is good for us to have reminders of God’s providence, His power, His love, and how though it may seem as though He may have abandoned us, that injustice rules and God has forgotten to keep His promises, He still is in control. Words like that are easy to write and fly off the tongue quite readily, but believing them in the midst of feelings of abandonment are not that simple. I know with my head what God has said, but my feelings of loneliness seem to mock my beliefs. I must come to a decision to believe God regardless of my feelings or external circumstances and know that He is in control and that He is working on His plan and schedule. I must conform to His plan, not that He changes the universe for mine. If God allows, I may see His purpose, if not, I will see it when I stand before Him in glory. We can always think of others who are in more difficult situations than our own, and though those kind of thoughts may change the perspective somewhat, when it is all said and done, we are still in pain and still blaming God for not working on our behalf. We need something more than just a reminder that there are others in worst circumstances.

One thing that we can do is to reassign meaning to what is happening: to realize that God is working out is plan and that He is giving us the privilege of being a part of it and using it to help grind down the rough corners of our character so that they reflect His character. Giving thanks to God “in all things” [not “for”, but “in”] is a great first step. I really believe that Jesus was reassigning the meaning of what was happening on the cross when He said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” More than just a statement of complete anguish, though He was definitely going through indescribable agony, Jesus was quoting from Psalm 22, for in that psalm those Jews around Him at the cross would have been well familiar with the rest of the text and how it describes the suffering He was going through at that moment. Through His pain Jesus was shouting to the crowds, “Listen, look, God is fulfilling His Word before your very eyes!” He was trying to help them reassign meaning to the tragedy of the moment. To help them see that even in death, God would gain the victory.

In similar fashion after the resurrection, when the disciples were in complete disarray and confusion, when He appears to them, Jesus reassigns meaning to what they were going through. Luke 24:25-27 records Jesus explaining what had happened to two on the road to Emmaus: “He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Jesus reassigned meaning, though it wasn’t until he did what they had no doubt seen Him do many times, break bread and give thanks, that their eyes were opened.

We may not be able to discern what God is doing, but we can ask Him to help us reassign new meaning to what is going on, confident that He is in control and that He has a purpose that will be for our ultimate good and His glory!


  1. He does have amazing things planned!! It is hard when we can't see them though. He is showing His glory through you, as you trust Him.
    Love you. Respect you so much!

  2. Thanks, Kris. Learning to reassign meaning is a lifelong task!