When It Feels Like God Forgot

September 7, 2021 By Anna Cosper

There are so many accounts in the Bible in which the Lord shows up for His people’s rescue in awe-inspiring ways. From the lions that surrounded Daniel, to Goliath standing in front of David, and Moses leading the Israelites through the parted sea. We can look at these events and see how God showed up in a big way. In those moments, when it seemed as though darkness had won, He did not forget His people.

But it doesn’t always feel like God shows up for us.

Maybe that makes you uncomfortable. I think for a long time I avoided saying or even thinking about that because it made me uncomfortable. In some ways, a part of me thought if I admitted that I have sometimes felt forgotten by God, it would break my fragile faith.

But we’re humans, living in a fallen world. A world of pain, of abuse, of violence, of loss, and brokenness. And when you’re in the middle of one or more of those situations, it can feel like you’re free-falling with no purpose.

I’m currently going through a study in Habakkuk. Habakkuk is witnessing violence and sin, and he approaches God in his first complaint to ask why He hasn’t done anything.

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,    and you will not hear?Or cry to you “Violence!”    and you will not save?
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Habakkuk 1:2, ESV

One of the things that strikes me is the way in which the Lord responds to Habakkuk. He begins by telling Habakkuk that it is not He (God) that does not see, but Habakkuk who does not see. He tells him that there are things He is working together that Habakkuk couldn’t possibly begin to fathom (Habakkuk 1:5). However, God doesn’t tell Habakkuk that the violence will end. In fact, He warns him that more is coming. What is promised though, is that God is aware, and He is working.

This doesn’t quite satisfy Habakkuk though, so he returns to the Lord with a second complaint. In his second complaint, we see Habakkuk struggling to reconcile the character of God with His actions, or rather, what seems to be inaction.

He asks the Lord, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13). At this moment, he is in full lament. He doesn’t understand. He feels forgotten. But once more, the Lord answers. He tells Habakkuk, “It will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3), it being the rescue God has for His people. He reminds him that He is in control. That evil will not ultimately prosper, because God is the one writing out this history, and it ends in victory for Him and His people.

There is so much in just the first 1 1⁄2 chapters of this short book of the Bible. But I think the main highlights are these:

First, if a prophet wrestles to understand and comprehend the evil of the world and feels as though God has gone silent in the midst of turmoil, then for us to struggle with that at times should not be surprising. I have to often remind myself that faith isn’t natural, it’s supernatural. Therefore, I can’t expect to naturally have faith on my own, and I certainly cannot get caught up in feeling guilty when it falters. To do so only turns the focus toward myself and keeps me from feeling like I can freely approach God in my struggle.

Second, our God is a God who takes questions. He listens. He answers. We aren’t told the timeframe in which the Lord answered Habakkuk, but we do know that His first answer wasn’t enough for Habakkuk. It’s okay to lay before the Lord our questions—with the intention of drawing into a closer, deeper relationship with Him. It’s okay to acknowledge when you feel somewhat lost (or maybe completely lost) in understanding what God is doing. In fact, it’s good to acknowledge that. We can’t deal with something we won’t admit is real.

I’ve got some questions to lay before The Lord.

I’ve got some “complaints.”

I think with everything going on in our world today, we all do.

We’re all waiting for God to show up in a big way.

But what’s interesting is this:

In the first 2 chapters of Habakkuk, the headers are listed as Habakkuk’s Complaint, and Habakkuk’s Second Complaint.

But in the 3rd and final chapter, the header reads Habakkuk’s Prayer.

That’s the beautiful thing about bringing our questions to Him.

That’s the part where growth happens.

As we lay down our mustard seeds of faith before the Lord and willingly admit that we’re hurt, and frustrated, and feel as though we have been abandoned, something shifts. We may go back and forth. He may answer and we may have follow up questions. He may have to remind us that He is God over, and over, and over again. But over time–a time that varies from individual to individual–that seed springs forth to new life.

Our complaints have grown into prayers.

Once we climb down from our self-made pedestals, and sit in conversation with our Father, our perspective shifts.

I’m still in that middle phase in some areas of my life.

I’m in the phase of sitting cross-legged across from my Savior as we go back and forth. It’s not perfect. There is a certain level of grief to be found in realizing you don’t understand why God allowed something to be done to you or someone else. But still, I sit. We sit. I lay before Him my grief, my laments, my complaints. He responds, oftentimes with answers that leave me with further questions. But as I’ve sought to continue this dialogue with Him, I have found that even though He may not explicitly give me answers, He does give me comfort. And I am reminded that I am not forgotten by God, I never was. Even if I don’t fully understand, I do believe that I am loved. I know this, because He is here, sitting with me in the mess that is my thought process. He is lovingly speaking to me life, truth, and hope. And I trust that even though I don’t see it all from where I stand, He does, and He hasn’t forgotten.

Before the mouths of the lions were miraculously shut, Daniel was thrown into the den.

Before Goliath came crashing down at the feet of a shepherd boy, he was standing tall.

Before Moses led the Israelites through the parted sea, they were driven to the sea by Pharaoh’s army.

There is always a need before there is a miracle, or else there wouldn’t be a point to the miracle.

Maybe you’re in that phase. The phase of holding your breath and waiting. Maybe you’re standing at the feet of a giant, wondering how on earth you’re going to get to the other side of this mess. That’s okay, take that to Him.

Bring Him your complaints.

Bring Him your laments.

Bring Him your mustard seeds.

He wants them, because He wants you.

Be honest with the Redeemer of your soul and tell Him about your confusion and fear.

Because He hasn’t forgotten.

Look among the nations, and see;    wonder and be astounded.For I am doing a work in your days    that you would not believe if told.
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Habakkuk 1:5, ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
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Matthew 11:28, ESV

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