She cried, “God, where are You????”

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These little guys begged me to take their photo and loved viewing themselves on my camera!

“I fell to the floor,” my friend confessed. “I looked to the heavens and cried out, ‘Lord, where are you???’”

I stood beside my friend and held her hand. I hadn’t seen her for just over a year. She is one of my longstanding and dear Finetown* friends. She had brought me to her new school. Once again, despite her challenges, she had worked and worked and worked and saved and saved and saved to construct a four-room early childhood development center off her home property. It was a stand-alone, sturdy brick schoolhouse.

Over the years, I have witnessed her take on a variety of different projects to improve her school to meet the requirements of the South African Government and in so doing create a safe and inviting atmosphere for her children and their families. My friend always had a project. Always. I am very proud of her!

Often times when people look upon African faces in short-term or long-term mission team photos, they see resolute joy and an exuberant countenance. Their eyes seem to dance with gratitude and their body language expresses something that many in the world long for – peace in all circumstances.

However, these are photos. From my experience, the majority of people I meet in southern Africa enjoy posing for a quick photo – whether they know me or not. They smile big and large!  Even yesterday, I requested to take a photo of a new school in Weiler’s Farm* and as I did I was rushed by preschool children shouting, “I want a photo! Take my picture! Look at me!”

Yet, if I had pulled out my camera to capture this hand-held moment between my friend and me, you would have seen no resemblance of a smile – her eyes stung with agony, her lips quivered in pain, her face was pinched and sore. When I asked her about her family, she said, “Heather, I can’t even….”

You see, for as long as I have known my friend, her marital life has been difficult. I won’t delve into specific information for her privacy’s sake. However, my friend has chosen to remain loyal and true to her husband. As a result, she has endured a tremendous amount of betrayal, emotional pain and suffering.

Another treacherous act occurred last week and this is when she called out to her God, “Where are you? Do you see what is happening? I don’t think I can endure this anymore!”

I wonder if any of us feel similar feelings of abandon?

Our life circumstances may be different. Yet, has there been a time – even now – when we have wondered where God is and if He is aware of our pain and trouble?

Have any of us exclaimed, “God, where are you?”

This past week, my saint word study led me to the book of Hebrews. These are the words that are shared in the sixth chapter:

God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people – His saints – and continue to help them. New International Version, Hebrews 6:10

Consider these characteristics of the Lord:

God is not unjust.

God remembers our work.

God honors the love we have shown Him.

God sees how we have cared for others.

The word ‘unjust’ comes from the Greek transliterated word, adikos. Adikos is an adjective which means without justice, unrighteous, fraudulent, and wicked.

To continue, the word ‘forget’ is derived from the Greek transliterated word, epilanthanomai (isn’t that’s a mouthful!). Epilanthanomai is a verb which means to forget, to neglect, to no longer care for, and to be given over to oblivion.

So, to put this all together for us, even if we don’t feel like our God is near or that He can see our challenging circumstances, or that he remembers us or even cares for us, this is not the reality of who God is!

God is just.

God does remember us.

God does see what we are doing and what situation we are in at the moment.

God is near.

David understood these truths about his God and believe me, the life of David was no picnic for decades!

I have set the Lord always before me,
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

New International Version, Psalm 16:8

As my friend shared her troubled heart with me yesterday, she finally shared, “I know God is here. He has been with me through terrible times. I just need someone by me to help me remember that.”

Don’t we all?

Don’t we need a friend or family member to come alongside us during disheartening times to say, “I’m with you. I love you. And most importantly, your God is here, too!”

We need friends to remind us of this pivotal truth:

God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people – His saints – and continue to help them.

This is what my friend needed as I held her hand and listened to her share her heartbreaking story.

She needed to know that she was not alone.

Friends, remember, just as Facebook portrays only a toe-depth story of your friends’ lives, the same is true of those you see in photos from around the world – especially Africa. A photo introduces you to a person’s life and shares a brief moment in time.

What is most needed – wherever someone is located in the world – are friends and family who are willing to listen to the whole story. They need a word of encouragement that reminds them:

God is near.
God does see what is happening in your life.
God does care about you. In fact, He loves and adores you!
God is not unjust – He will act upon your behalf and set things straight in His time.

Are you willing to share these needed, encouraging, and heart-lifting words to your friends?

If you are a follower of Christ – and one of His saints – this is God’s continuing call to us!

Encourage, love, and give strength to others – especially when they cry, “God, where are you?”

We all need to know we are not alone and not forgotten.

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*Finetown and Weiler’s Farm are informal settlements located 40 kilometers south of Johannesburg, South Africa. They are considered one of the poorest areas of Gauteng.

 

Image retrieved from Blogs by Christian Women

8 Comments

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  1. Once again you have touched my heart just where I am. God is just and near and oh but how much He cares. Needed this reminder today. Thank you.

    • Hi Sherri,

      Thanks so much for sharing with me! I pray that you feel the very real and assuring Presence of your God in a tangible way today! He does care for you, Sherri, and He has not forgotten you! Please rest in this precious truth for whatever concerns you!

      With love,
      heather

  2. I don’t see why anyone should be expected to trust in a god who acts distant when they need him anymore than we would trust in a person who acted the same. If a parent responded to a child’s desperation by withdrawing attention or comfort, we’d see this as abuse. A spouse behaving this way to their partner would be the same. A friendship with this dynamic would be let go. At some point, continuing to doggedly hope that the relationship is still sound and that you are still loved becomes dangerous for one’s own health.

    If one chooses to keep trying to trust in god in spite of that, that is fine and their choice. Maybe that faith will be helpful for some people. But one should never be made to feel as though they are being unfaithful or unreasonable if they take silence from “god” as a sign of indifference, rejection, or even a lack of existence. After all, if a parent or spouse treated us this way, our friends and family would hopefully support us in kicking such a cruel abuser to the curb. But in Christian circles, I so often just see “you just have to keep trusting” and “you just have to keep having faith and keep trying” thus placing the responsibility and blame on the victim.

    Why? Why should one keep having faith? Why should one keep giving god second chances when he blatantly ignores or abandons you in times of need? Why should we say “oh, don’t worry, he’s there. He just won’t let you feel it or see it and he won’t do anything to help you. But he’s definitely there.” If I had any reason to think that having faith in someone who ignores and avoids you was worth doing, then I might attempt to find religion again. But, as I see it, there’s no reason to do such a thing. And if I wouldn’t accept such behavior from my human friends, I sure as heck am not going to accept it from “god”.

    • Hi Evan,

      You’re back! Thanks for writing me once again!

      I hear what you’re saying when you say “oh, don’t worry, God’s there…..” Not when some one is in serious pain and really hurting. That’s almost patronizing. What my friend needed was someone to listen and not say anything. She needed hugs and she needed some tangible help which I didn’t mention in the blog post. I was grateful to be there to assist as she needed.

      Where you and I disagree is that I don’t believe that God ignores or avoids anyone. I know you went through a period of calling out to God and felt you got nothing from Him. I know that His silence led you to conclude along with some other things you researched that God does not exist. That’s what you have decided.

      For me, that hasn’t been my experience throughout my relationship with my God. Have there been silent periods? Of course. Yet those silent periods ultimately led to a deepening faith in my life. For my friend, she needed a touch from God and a word of encouragement. God speaks through people at times and my presence brought my friend some degree of encouragement – especially as I listened to her share her heart. You may contend that this was just me. However, the timing of my visit, in my mind, was divine. I didn’t know that my friend needed something – I just showed up. I contend that God knew that.

      For believers like me, Jesus is alive and at work in my heart and soul. He prompts me to act at times in ways beyond human belief. I seek to hear Him and follow what He wants me to do – like visit Finetown on that particular day and at that particular time. Some may say it was a coincidence. However, my life doesn’t work like that.

      I realize that what I’ve written may not jive with you. You have developed ideas and made judgments about God that I have not. I appreciate you for telling me what you think in spite of our differences. And hope springs eternal in me 🙂 it is my desire that what we’ve shared over the past two years and that our on-line discourse gives you encouragement. And one day, that encouragement leads you to rethink your position about who
      God is and what He is all about. Until then, let’s just keep ‘talking!’ 🙂

      Have a great day!

      Blessings,
      heather

      • Thanks for the reply! To be clear, my intent was not to pass any sort of judgment on the situation between you or your friend, as I do not know the situation, what was said, or what was needed. Rather, I wanted to comment on the over-arching theme of your post- that if someone cries out “god, where are you?” and they don’t get a response, why should they consider him trustworthy or helpful? If I said to my wife with tears in my eyes “please help me; I can’t handle this by myself!” I know and trust from experience that she would drop literally anything to help me. And she knows from experience that I would do the same. That is why we trust and love each other. If she responded to my cry for help with silence, I would not trust her or love her and I would assume she does not love me. If people said “she’s just doing that to test your trust in her” or “she’s waiting for a better time to help you” or “she loves you but sometimes you just have to do things on your own in order to get stronger” I’d be aghast. I’d be horrified. I’d certainly not consider her a loving partner or even a friend. I’ve held god up to the standard I expect from any decent human being and found him desperately lacking. What does that say about him? Nothing good.

        I know that your experience has been different. You feel that god has pulled through for you and I’m glad that your faith is a positive thing in your life. I just want to mention the other side of the coin: that “god” wasn’t there for all of us and there’s really no excuse that one can make for him that erases or excuses his neglect.

  3. Hi Evan,

    Thanks for the reply!

    Yes, my experience has been different. Your disappointment in and eventual abandonment of God is palpable. I get it.

    It’s like you had a friend that didn’t come through for you at all – and I have that same, mutual friend who totally has. And because of those disappointments, the old friendship is framed in mistrust and lack of faith. Nothing I say or explain will alter that opinion or cause you to rethink or reconsider the friendship.

    Your friends, your wife, even you are what you are depending upon now to meet your needs. It’s working for you.

    This just doesn’t work for me. I’ve learned in life that no one, no thing, and no experience are ultimately fulfilling or ultimately peace-giving. I find my peace, my identity, my joy, and my strength in Christ. My life is better with God in it. However, Evan, we’ve gone through this before, so I won’t belabor the point.

    I appreciate that you want to give me a different side of the coin about God. Yet, from everything I read in Scripture and everything that I know about Him through decades of experience, my coin has love on one side and faith on the other. And I have many coins like that! If you ever want a coin like mine some day, let me know! 🙂

    Take care,
    heather

    • I am entirely happy that it works for you and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. But I don’t think I’ll be looking for any coins like yours. It seems it’s a currency that only works for certain people and not others, so if god isn’t willing to honor that currency for me the same as for you, it was clearly not meant for me anyway. 🙂

      • Hi Evan,

        Got it!

        However, my faith and love coins are free and available anytime you change your mind! And yes, they are for you! I have no doubts about that. Crazy me believes something great is at work in your life – time will tell if it’s a fanciful wish or a resolute hope. Yet, I believe that the doorway to God will open to anyone who knocks. Yes, anyone.

        Until then, take good care. I’m glad to know you!

        Have a great week!

        Blessings,
        heather

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