For most, the words, “God can’t”, may raise some eyebrows. Some may even think it’s an impossibility. “Everything is possible with God,” is a very common saying. To be as bold to say that God cannot do something is sacrilege, negative, preposterous, right? I would venture to say that there are a handful of things that God CANNOT do.
GOD CAN’T ABANDON YOU!
Have you ever felt abandoned? It’s not uncommon for us as children to feel abandoned by our parents. Maybe you were lost in the grocery store. Maybe your parents, who drove two different cars to church, got their signals crossed and left you there by accident. Each thinking you were with the other. Or maybe you’ve felt abandoned by friends. You show up to a sporting event only to find that none of your friends are there. Maybe your best friend asked someone else to go to the movie that you had planned to see together. In any case, we often can feel abandoned by people, but not only as children. We as adults also can be placed in situations that leave us with a feeling of isolation and despair. We feel unloved, inadequate, alone. We lack the acceptance and attention we long for.
Most of us have felt isolated by people, but I would wager to say that almost every believer at one point or another has felt as if God has left them as well. Typically, the feeling of abandonment comes in times of trial and pain - when we have endured hardship for what seems like an eternity without any intervention from the Lord. Have you ever felt as if God has left you? When you were in desperate need for the Lord’s answer, when you longed for Him to rescue you from your situation, for Him to help you and give you strength when all seemed lost, did you question if He even cared? Just like our sufferings, God’s silence can shake our faith.
GOD CAN’T ABANDON YOU!
I love reading the Psalms. David had such a way of expressing many of the feelings that we experience today. In looking at Psalm 22, we see David feeling abandoned by God.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.“ Have you been there? Have you cried out to God with no answer? Did it seem as if God simply didn’t hear you in your desperation? You are not alone, for even King David questioned the Lord’s presence in his time of need.
“Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.” It seems as if all the Old Testament people of Israel had to do was cry out and God came running to save them. Doesn’t quite seem fair. Has the God of old changed so drastically that He wouldn’t deliver us as quickly today?
“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: “He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.” Do I sense a bit of sarcasm in the tone of David’s enemies? “If he believes so much in this God of his then let his God save him!” I am sure their words were followed by laughs and sneers. But David in turn cries out to God. Is this how the Lord repays me for my loyalty? I have also felt David’s pain - a feeling of, “Why God? I’ve been a good person. I’ve done everything you have asked of me. I serve You and this is how You repay me - by hiding from me, by abandoning me?" How often we believe we must jump through hoops in order to earn God’s favor. We are only saved by grace, not of our works lest we should boast.
“Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” How many of us can relate to David? We are suffering, and those around us attempt to trivialize our pain, or even worse - ignore it. They surround us on every side like a herd of bulls or pride of lions just waiting to devour us. We become literally spent, poured out, exhausted. Our whole being thrown out of whack. We are tired and out of strength, ready to give up - ready to die. Yet, even in our state, there are those who continue to accuse us, hurl their insults at us, namely Satan himself. “Where is your God now?” he whispers. But this feeling of abandonment is only half of the Psalm.
“But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; Save me from the horns of the wild oxen.” David calls upon God to help him, to deliver him, to rescue him in his time of need. He honestly and vulnerably pours out his feelings to the Lord, but then he begins to move his focus to ask God to come quickly. He continues to pray for the Lord to save him. But he doesn’t remain there. His requests and cries for help swiftly turn into praise!
“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.” We now witness a distinct transition from what David FEELS about God to what David KNOWS about God. Here is a glimpse of God’s true character in that He does NOT despise the suffering of the afflicted. He does NOT hide His face from us. He listens to our cry for help. And yet, we see another transition from praise to affirmation of just what we can expect from our Lord God.
“The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise him—may your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it.”
Child of God - in your desperation you can eat and be satisfied. You who praise Him can live forever! You can turn to God in your desperate need. You can kneel before the God of the nations and feast at His table. You can speak of God’s marvelous works to give hope and encouragement to future generations, because -
GOD CAN’T ABANDON YOU!
Did you ever realize that Jesus himself felt abandoned by God? Jesus made the exact same statement in Matthew 27 verse 26 as he hung on a cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” But the similarities don’t stop there. Christ was mocked by his enemies (the bulls and lions) pressing in on every side while hurling their insults at him. Like David, he was poured out like water, a picture of exhaustion while he suffered. His bones, his heart, his tongue, his strength all failed him. His hands and feet were pierced and lots cast for his clothing. This accurate prophecy written hundreds of years before Christ’s death on the cross, is an amazing example of not just David’s feeling of abandonment, but a foretelling of the crucifixion of our Savior. Also ending on similar terms - David’s words, “He has done it” and Jesus’ words, “It is finished”. A prayer spoken in faith that the Lord would deliver them begins in anguish and abandonment, but finishes in hope!
There are countless times in the bible where God has given us a promise that He will not leave us or forsake us. Isaiah 42:16 tells us, “I (God) will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” The Message translates this verse saying that God is our personal guide, He sticks with us, not leaving us for a minute! What hope we have in knowing that our Lord God CANNOT abandon His children. See His heart for you and trust in His very nature!
GOD CAN’T ABANDON YOU!
“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:1-2
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut 31:6-8