Why is God Ignoring Me?

In Tough Questions by Antwuan Malone19 Comments

Bill is a retired, Christian man who spends most days caring for his wife. She’s got Alzheimer’s. Everyday Bill asks God to save his wife. To fix what’s wrong. To make her normal again. But God is silent. Nothing improves. It only worsens. Periodically he’ll catch flashes of the vibrant woman he married. But only flashes. Sadly, vibrant doesn’t describe her.  Not to Bill. Not anymore.

Bill’s prayers weren’t enough.  So he reached out to other Christians – Christians who believed in a powerful, amazing God who “never leaves or forsakes us,” a God who is greater, and stronger, and “higher than any other.” He’d ask them, “What am I missing?” And he’d wonder aloud, “Where is God now, right now, when I need him most?” While everyone else celebrated an amazing God, Bill just sat. He didn’t feel like celebrating. He felt forsaken by God. Forgotten. Ignored.

The barrage of Sunday School answers came rolling in.

“It’s a trial,” said one.

“He’s testing your faith,” said another.

They urged that God was probably teaching him something, or that God wanted him as an example for others.

But Bill, in a rare moment of candor shown in public by a pronounced Christian, had one reply.

“I don’t want to be an example.  I don’t want to help others. I just want my wife, my best friend, back.”

The Harsh Reality

These moments – moments when our justifiable, selfless desires seem to fall on deaf ears – are the hardest, most gut wrenching moments in the life of a Christian.  How do we comfort Bill?  How do we comfort ourselves?  We’ve all been, or will be, there: losing a parent, a child, or special friend to disease, fighting through a marriage, raising a wayward child, empty job searches, poverty, loneliness, injustice and pain. The list is so long. And frankly, resolution often feels like the only real comfort.

The harsh reality is that often times, in the darkest moments, we feel like Bill.  We feel abandoned by God. Left to our own devices. Left to face our predicaments without his power, his help, and sometimes, without even a whisper from Him. Can’t you imagine Bill kneeling beside his wife’s bed, praying through gritted teeth, his fists clenched. “Where are you, God?” Answer. Say something!” I can.

God doesn’t always save us from our problems. I realize how discomforting a statement like that is, but it’s true. For what’s it’s worth.  If you are feeling like Bill right now, you should know you’re alone. For centuries, men and women sought God for change, and rose from their knees feeling dissatisfied. And while there is little a solace in the Old Testament records that reveal these exact frustrations from people, which suggests God wants us to read about them in his Word, which also suggests He is not hiding the way others have felt about Him, it is just that.  Little solace.

I’ve learned to permit feeling abandoned, unheard and ignored by God. My obligation as a Christ-follower is not to pretend negative feelings don’t exist. We all know they do. The prophets and disciples get angry with God often, and they let Him know it. God prefers our emotionally fidelity to the Sunday School Sunshine façade we’ve learned to display. He wants us to tell Him how we really feel. The Bible tells us to weep with those who weep. Doesn’t that imply many will have real, legit reasons to weep?  Doesn’t that almost ensure some problems will go unsolved? Christians, then, shouldn’t ignore the real emotions we feel in moments of tragedy and loss. We should face them, together.

Despite His silence, God is not happy with our problems.  He does not sit on a bejeweled throne with an air of indifference to our problems. I picture him with looking down on us through sad, pain-filled, eyes. I picture a God who, at minimum, weeps with us. God is not smiling at dying children, rape, murder, poverty, disease, and depression. He is not looking down on Bill’s wife with indifference.  He is weeping.  For Bill. For his wife.  For their children. God hurts with us, sometimes for us.

So why doesn’t He do something?

Truthfully, I don’t know. But then, I shouldn’t know. The liberty of the Gospel is in not knowing. The hardest thing for us to do is trust God in our most desperate times.  “Not knowing” teaches how to trust Him more. I didn’t really get a hold of this until I became a parent.

There are times when my children ask me to fix this or that for them, and I deliberately choose not to help them. Not because I’m a cruel dad, though I’m sure they may think so in that moment, but because I did not think helping them was best. And while my children may have walked away pouting and angry, in the end, the decision will work out for their good – a goodness they may never acknowledge or understand.

God and I share a similar dynamic. The key to trusting God was understanding that He defines what is good.  Not me. I know what I want. I don’t always know what’s best. And the truth is, if I want the peace the Bible talks about, the kind that “surpasses understanding,” I needed to trust His judgment enough to march right into the heart of a storm, blindfolded.

Everybody loves somebody. None us likes watching death and disease. If we had it our way, no one would die. There’d be no disease, poverty or injustice. And that sounds great. But the fact that these evils exist means that God, if he truly is good, must work from a bigger-picture point of view. The scriptures say “God is not willing that any man perish,” and yet, many of us will. It seems on some level, God wants what we want. And yet, even He must deny His desire for the sake of a greater good as He defines it.

But in all of this, there is little solace.

So we are back where we began.  Where is God when you need Him most? I think He is right there in the thick of it with you. Weeping alongside you.  Hoping you will still trust His judgment through your predicaments. And I think, even He knows, that sometimes there is no solace in that.

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.
19 comments
jlucas121530
jlucas121530

What about thosethose off US who have had

nothing but pain and all gor seems to do is make my life harder all the time I know god ignoreignore me in have given up and stopped paying God only helps some and isis there for some




antwuanm
antwuanm moderator

@jlucas121530 I can't pretend to have all the answers to your questions. I know that God allows evil to exist in the world, and that evil is more concentrated in some areas. I also know that God deeply loves his people. I don't know if you read the Bible, but in it are several stories where God allowed tough circumstances for hundreds of years before he acted. 


I'm not saying that's easy. I'm not even saying you should feel good about that. But I am saying that God does not hide from the fact that sometimes he allows deeply troubling things to exist for long periods of time. It's represented several times in scripture.


As a Christian, my job is to get as near to God as possible and to be obedient to the life he asks me to live. I believe if Christians would do that, we would see less evil in the world. If people were living the way God wants them to, and getting as many people as possible to do the same, we wouldn't have ISIS or murderers or a whole plethora of issues. 


So, for me, the answer (or question) is not... "where are you God?" It's "where are God's people?" If God's people would be obedient to the call of self-denial, or spreading the gospel, and of obedience to him things would change.

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lindseyhorist
lindseyhorist

I've been praying for over 10 years for friends but nothing has happened. 3 years ago I had the desire to start praying for a boyfriend. But all the guys are taken:(

Where is God?

I'm a strong Christian who has gone through many trials. I read my bible daily and attend a small Christian university but idk. Maybe God isn't as powerful or loving as he makes himself to be because I give up.

At almost 20 years of age, having no social or love life is an emotional death sentence.

Sigh, forever alone it is.

antwuanm
antwuanm moderator

@lindseyhorist Hi Lindsey! I don't know your story, but I know what loneliness feels like. I'm sorry to hear you in what sounds like a really dark place. Where do you live?

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SF
SF

I understand exactly what Bill feels. I'm 16 years old and I've got my GCSE's coming up. Now as you probably know, this brings with it a lot of stress. But not only have I had to deal with this stress I have been given more than I have ever been given and I can't cope with it all. My great grandma died at the beginning of the year, my mother has depression and hasn't been coping extremely well, im being bullied in school because of my faith and my grandma may have cancer and is also ill from a blood problem so can not have surgery to replace her painful hip. On top of all this I've just recently been dumped by the girl I love and care about more than anything in this world, she's going through a hard time as she also had anxiety and deppresion and I really don't know how to help her anymore. Its so much pain and stress for me and I am really struggling to cope. Tonight I had a knife against my arm and was seriously thinking about self harming. I've never done it before but I also have never been this low before. I called out to God to help me, I just wanted one little thing that showed me he was there and didn't want me to hurt myself. But I got nothing. I cried and cried. I just don't understand why he can't just give me one little thing to show me he cares about me. He's meant to be all powerful right? Can he not stop the pain and make things right? Or at least just let me know He's there looking after me. Its just hard and I'm too young to cope with this all on my own.

God Bless you all.

antwuanm
antwuanm moderator

@SF I'm so sorry I'm seeing this late. I hope you put that knife down. Here's the deal SF. God loves you. And there is so much about life that is hard and difficult that leads to good things in the end. That's hard for all of us to deal with, regardless of our age. The emotional responses to those moments (especially when there are so many of them as in your case) can overwhelm us. They make us want to do things, even sometimes illogical things (like harm ourselves) in order to feel a sense of release, or a validation. 


Consider this view. If you were a training for a decathlon, you'd have to find a trainer that you trusted could get you ready, and you'd have to agree to a training plan. You'd submit to the plan and do the exercises even when they don't seem to make sense because you trust the trainer is prepping you for the triathlon. You'd lift the weights, run the miles, do the stretches... and all along the way, you'd wake up the next day in pain. Sore. Barely able to move. The training would literally use the pain to break your body. But because you trust the trainer, and what he's training you to do, it'd be all worth it. Because you trust the trainer, you might even find joy in the pain because you'd be feeling yourself grow stronger.  


The analogy here is clear. God is our trainer. And life is the plan. If you have handed your life to God and said to him, do with my life what you will... And if you believe God is good, and is on your side, then you can trust that most of the pain you are going through is being used for your own benefit in growth (despite the soreness and pain of the anxiety, heartbreak, and loss.) The amazing thing about God is that he redeems all of our situations to form and shape us into who He wants us to be. 


So SF, let me offer you some practical things you can do to help. 


1.  Take ten minutes for the next 5 days, and write down 20-30 things you are thankful for. Think about your situation. Think about the small things that happened that day. After you are finished, pray to God and thank him for the things on your list. This is not a time to ask God for anything. Designate this time as a time to be thankful to God for what he has done, even though it feels he's abandoned you.


2.  Make a goal every day that you will encourage someone. This could be anyone. This could be as small as a compliment on someone's new shoes, or as big as praying with someone who just experienced loss, or are going through a hard time. Make a a goal to help a couple people each day over the next five days. 


I hope this is helpful for you. 


[God, please help my friend SF in his struggles. I know that it's hard to be a teenager already. And he's got so much going on around him that if may be hard to see the light. Help him to put his trust in you in the middle of his storms. Help him to learn to trust you fully, even when you allow hurt, pain and loss. God, send comforting people around him. People he can be real with. People who will listen. And God, be with him while he tries to help people and re-orient his mind to thankful for what you do.  In Jesus' name.... ]

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Anon
Anon

"If you are feeling like Bill right now, you should know you’re alone"

you probably meant "If you are feeling like Bill right now, you should know you’re NOT alone"


God Bless

Anon
Anon

...Wow, thank you for allowing me to vent to you and to God at the same time as I was praying and prayer is the answer... My mind went back to Jesus' sacrifice on the cross which is the foundation of my life. As my Mediator, He is bringing this to pass in my life as the truth around which my life is based in a new way. I do not need to doubt His love and desire to make provision for me, but the only provision I really need and all those around me really need is salvation- eternal life with Him. Sometimes we must be challenged so lessons go in more deeply.  I feel energised thinking about what He has done for me and may my life be a testimony to His.

Anon
Anon

I am no longer the youngest of the young, but have been wondering why "nothing has been happening". Engagement ended in breakup and abandonment in a foreign country, a whole period of humiliation and attack. I have been told "God is going to do something good for you". He can do all things but it is up to Him what He wants to do, I feel forgotten like a crushed up piece of paper thrown aside. no progress with music; very little money; tired of working and doing things as a Christian alone I feel drained and tired, always seeming to give back more than I receive to people. I do not give to receive but believed that somehow if I served God, He would take care of me and provide for me so my needs were met, not as payment, but as something I did not need to worry about so I could serve God freely. As it has been throughout my life as a Christian, I just feel taken for granted, ignored and used.

Anon
Anon

I befriended lots of disenfranchised people but they are troublesome and I still experience some problems with those associations. I am a friendly introvert and sometimes I really do not feel like talking or dealing with people, just resting in quietness, but because of my service for God being about people, I approach them. I am just much more friendly and caring than most people and after a while, the different levels of rejection I am constantly working with seem too much to bear, but I am expected to keep soldiering on like a robot. 14 years as a Christian... I would love to "go on holiday" and shut myself away for a long time... I get emotionally, spiritually and physically tired. Would love to be able to work on a long term basis with people one day.

Anon
Anon

The people who I want to help to come to Christ and other to know God better, they seem to mess around with their commitment levels, saying they are very interested and then becoming unreachable or distracted. Today I must go and feed 3 people with the Word but I need some care myself and I just want progress to be made!!!!

Anon
Anon

Tired of spending my Christian life alone.

Kristin
Kristin

Thank you for this. My struggle is our continued poverty. It seems like every time we get a little saved up, disaster happens and wipes it all out. It has been like this for the entire 12 years of our marriage. Recently, we've had many expensive medical issues that again wiped out everything we had gotten ahead in... And there has been so much stress these past few months, that we desperately need a break or a vacation and of course we can't afford one. We haven't been on a vacation in 10 years. And everyone around us seems to be buying new houses, new cars, exotic vacations, everything. All we want is 1 or 2 weeks away from the continuous hospital stays and bills and it ain't happening. And we live an extremely modest lifestyle. Sigh... I'm just so overwhelmed and exhausted and burned out. And God is nowhere...

James
James

The Children of Israel were slaves in Egypt for centuries and never heard a peep out of God. Yet, when Jacob and his family of 70 were about to descend into Egypt, God promised that He would go down into Egypt with him, and come back out with his children. In Judaism, it's believed that when the Jews go into exile, God goes into exile with them. However generations of Jewish men, women, and children were born, lived, and died as slaves under the harsh lash of Egyptian taskmasters, without ever hearing the voice of God. I know that probably isn't very helpful to anyone going through difficult and tragic times, but I've "seen" God attend to many people suffering hideous grief. One man in our congregation lost his wife some years ago after a long battle with cancer. Another woman lost her husband in a car accident. Their hearts were broken but amazingly, their faith remained intact. I can't describe it, but God was with them. Why do bad things happen? We live in a broken world. The world will continue to be broken until the return of Jesus. We experience blessings but we don't live in a blessed world...not yet. Bad things happen. Families near the broken nuclear plant in Japan are exposed to radiation. Thousands remain homeless in earthquake ravaged Haiti. Bill struggles to care for a wife suffering from Alzheimers. My wife's sister, who has lived with cerebal palsy since birth is now in intensive care as her middle-aged body continues to deteriorate. Where is God? I don't know. Faith tells me He's there and caring for each and every one of these hurting people, but that doesn't mean the hurt will go away. That doesn't mean He will always cure or heal or fix. Sometimes, just like the rest of us, He doesn't make the pain go away, but He never leaves us in our pain alone.