HOPE WHEN GOD FEELS DISTANT
Through the Valley
Have you ever felt yourself wavering in your desire for God? Have you wondered where your passion for God went or found yourself questioning if you have any faith at all? Maybe a tragic event led you to this valley or perhaps you have gradually slipped into a state of apathy, feeling like the heartaches and stresses of this world have taken over your life. During these difficult seasons, you may have asked yourself, “What happened to my relationship with God?”
Amid the pain of our realized wavering, we will claw for life in anything that catches our attention–buying that new blazer, redecorating your house, going to another sporting event–hoping that it can fill the void. Instead of facing the void and drawing near to God, we distract ourselves from the void and as a result, enlarge this distance.
During our journey through the valley of doubt, we may experience brief moments where we come to terms with our present journey and muster up the energy to read the Bible and pray once or twice. Perhaps we may even see the horizon at times believing that our journey here has ended and a new season is awaiting, only to find ourselves in the shadows again. Eventually, we desire to just be comfortable—seeking no risks, no adventures, no uncertainties. Our ability to live in obedience and with courageous faith slowly slips away.
This valley of doubt can feel like an impossible obstacle, with no hope in sight and like God has turned His back on us, but our comfort comes from knowing that Jesus identifies with our struggles. He who created all things—even the air you breathe this moment—knows your pain. More than that, He is with you through the valley and beckons you to follow him.
At the cross, Jesus felt his Father forsaking Him and breaking His relationship with Him. Jesus experienced the deepest pain possible. He experienced the true absence of the Father. In Matthew 27:46, Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?,” quoting Psalm 22:1.
David, who wrote Psalm 22 about 1,100 years earlier, describes the deep anguish, humiliation, pain and sorrow that he was experiencing and he cries out for God for salvation. Yet, David ends the psalm with confidence in God. He proclaims God’s sovereignty and righteousness. He declares that those who are hungry will be satisfied and will sing praises forever. David declares that God will be victorious and will restore His people; that they will be restored and experience the blessings of God.
Jesus’ quotation of Psalm 22:1 meant that God was at last victorious over the enemy and had restored His people. At the cross, God restored the broken relationship with His people by placing that brokenness upon Jesus. Jesus took our condition of being forsaken by becoming forsaken and granted us reconciliation, enabling the type of relationship he had with the Father. In the midst of our dark valley, we can follow in David and Jesus’ examples and hold on to that same hope and cling to a faithful God, even as we experience doubt and loneliness.