‘WHY?’ QUESTIONS No.19
Psa 42:9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”
There is in one sense a commonality in many of these particular studies, a question mark over God’s behaviour as it is seen from our standpoint; it’s just that it comes in a variety of ways. But that is the key: it is from our standpoint. Standpoint is very important. For instance someone once pointed out to me many years ago, the phrase that crops up again and again in Ecclesiastes, “under the sun”. Now “under the sun” means as seen from down here on earth. Ecclesiastes is an earthly assessment of life and as such is very jaded. It was the assessment of Solomon after he had been led away from the Lord by all his foreign wives, an assessment that had little of God in it. As such it is brilliant at helping us see the meaningless of life without God, but it is a very limited viewpoint. The apostle Paul had the exact opposite, a tremendous insight in God’s purposes, but contrary to popular belief, being very heavenly minded doesn’t make you of no earthly use. If makes you far more effective in your use on earth, this side of heaven.
Jesus had the incredible ability to see everything from the heavenly perspective because he had come from there (Jn 6:32 -) and, even more, knew that he was going back there to receive the glory as the Saviour of the world (Heb 12:2). Every time we come up with a “Why?” question it means we have lost perspective. Somehow something has happened which makes us feel one thing that is contrary to the truth.
In the same psalm we looked at yesterday, the psalmist expresses the feeling that he has. He is not only feeling disturbed, he is feeling forgotten. Imagine you were a little child and you were taken by your parents to visit another family and when you arrived at their home, they left you in the front room and said, “We’ve just got to go upstairs and visit Aunt. Your cousins will come and play with you in a minute and we won’t be long.” and they leave you there. Minutes pass, and then an hour and then two hours and no one comes. You have been forgotten. Do you sense the feeling of the little child? Two hours with love and companionship absent. Or perhaps you are an adult and at work your boss has promised you a promotion, but it never seems to come. You feel forgotten. Hopes for something better denied. Or suppose you have a serious accident and they rush you to hospital. You are wheeled into ‘Casualty’ (or ER) and left at one side. No one comes near you. Everyone is hustling and bustling with other patients and you are left there unattended in pain. You are forgotten. Your needs are being unmet. Or suppose you are part of a small army troop sent on special operations in a foreign hostile country. You fight your fight and make for the rendezvous where you will be picked up by helicopters. You arrive at the pickup point and wait, and wait. It is likely the enemy will pursue you. You have only limited time. Where are our helicopters? Time passes and they don’t come. You have been forgotten. Hope of salvation dwindles.
The sense of being forgotten is a sense that someone somewhere doesn’t care. You are not important enough to be in their thoughts and so they have simply forgotten you! The sense of being abandoned is a demeaning one, a belittling one. You are so small that you don’t warrant the attention of someone else. There are a lot of other feelings associated with this feeling of being forgotten! And that is how it seems with God sometimes. Or perhaps we should say, that is how Satan suggests it is with God sometimes, for the truth is that God sees everything, God knows everything and God misses nothing. But perhaps that makes it worse, this thought that He sees me in distress and still doesn’t seem to do anything about it. Why?
The answer of faith has to be that God has a reason, a perfect reason that we may never fully understand this side of heaven. That’s why, as we saw yesterday, sometimes all we can do is say, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him.” (v.11). Without God we would be stuck in a hopeless situation anyway. At least I know that in the past God has always been there for me, He has always turned up and saved me. I also know what His word promises. His word and His past actions on my behalf can give me confidence for the present. That is what Isaiah knew when he cried, “To the law and to the testimony” (Isa 8:20). When God seems out of sight and we feel forgotten, we need to restate the truth: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb 13:5) and “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Rom 8:28 ). We may not sense Him but He is there and He is there always working for my good. That is the wonder of the Christian life. Hallelujah!