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Not Abandoned

Today is Good Friday. Today, we remember Jesus, beaten and broken on a cross, in extreme pain, crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He felt alone and abandoned for a moment. 

This fulfilled and hearkened to the same cry that David had in Psalm 22.  

And that Job had. 

At one point, Job felt that God had torn, gnashed, broke, dashed, slashed, and hated him (17:4-14)-his words, not mine! 

In pain and grief, there are moments when you wonder if God has abandoned you.

Job felt totally abandoned and alone and in the middle of his battle, cried out for mercy two times! (19:21) It was at this climax, that he proclaimed that HE KNEW THAT HIS REDEEMER LIVES!!! At the point of his greatest despair, his faith was at the highest level.

Astoundingly, he knew that he was in need of a Redeemer (19:25). Job likely lived after the time of the Tower of Babel but before or during the time of Abraham. When ALL was taken and friends did not understand and even accused him, he knew he needed REDEMPTION and God would vindicate him. 

He knew that there would be a day of justice (“at the last He will stand upon the earth”) when he would SEE GOD with his own eyes. This is where he goes for COMFORT. 

For Jesus, He was experiencing the outpouring of divine wrath as He bore our sin. All three: Jesus, David, Job experienced reproach and ridicule. All three kept relying on God through it and experienced his rescue and mercy.

The truth is: God was always watching over Jesus, David, and Job. God never ditches His people. Hear this: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). And this: “For he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5b-6). And it goes on and on: “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ And God said, ‘I will be with you’ (Exodus 3:11-12). 

God does not leave us while we suffer. He has compassion for us and stays with us. He is the Father who stays!! He does not desert us and this is the greatest promise ever. He never dumps us but is right next to us as we cry and hurt. He never mocks our suffering or our faith. He wants us to reach out to Him and let Him comfort us. He wants us to talk honestly and openly. Jesus, because he felt forsaken, understands us completely. God does not hide His face from us, but rather is listening and hears every cry.

Psalm 22 ends with these words: he has done it. Jesus said, “It is finished.” We have a Redeemer who gets every ounce of our agony, affliction, and aching. Today we remember the darkness He went through to save us. He died for the broken. He was broken for the broken. He is with the broken. This is my body broken for ____. Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have MERCY on me, a sinner.

Contributor-L. Vincent

Photo-L. Vincent

Loss-spouse

Stones of Remembrance

Dartmouth College has developed a Life Change Index Scale also referred to as “The Stress Test.” One is to go through the listed events assigning them a designated score for that event. Events include death of a spouse or close family member, divorce, loss of job, moving, change in eating habits, etc. The higher the score, the harder it will be for one to recover. Many of us have gone through such events. How is our recovery going?

Think of Joshua and the Stones of Remembrance. After the loss of a close family member (Joshua and the Israelites had lost Moses), after moving (they had moved around for forty years), and after experiencing a change in eating habits (think manna and quail)-What would Joshua’s score have been? What would all of the Israelites score have been?

According to Dartmouth, it would be very high, and they were at risk for a very difficult recovery.  Yet, despite the stressful events, including crossing what was a full river Jordan (yet miraculously dried), Joshua decided that a memorial should be built, “Stones of Remembrance.” He wanted them to REMEMBER all that God had done: To stop and take the time to reflect on God’s faithfulness in the middle of their stressful circumstances and to use this to teach their children about who God was.

In Joshua 4, the Israelites built a memorial out of stones. These stones were taken from the middle of what could be considered the SOURCE of their stress. The Jordan River. This was also the exact spot of miraculous work. They stayed longer in the dried-up source of stress, the place of miracles, to create a memorial to remember God’s divine deliverance and great goodness. In the exact same dirt: the source of stress, a miracle, then worship.

The stones were to serve as a prompt–so that future generations would ask what the stones were for and they would be told the testimony of how they could not cross the Jordan River (their stress) until it was dried up by the Lord. So that ALL could know that “the hand of the Lord is MIGHTY, so that [they would] fear the LORD [their] God forever.”  

I want to be like Joshua, allowing the Lord to use stressful events and my recovery to bring him GLORY for generations to come. Now… what will my “stones” be?

Contributor-A. Rightmire