When You Feel Most Alone
Hello Church Family,
I hope you’re having a great week. I pray that you’ve been able to see God’s grace in new and encouraging ways.
If you are reading through the Bible this year as part of a daily schedule, you’ve likely already encountered this phrase multiple times: “And God remembered.” In Genesis 8 we’re told that “God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark.” A few chapters later, when God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their occupants’ wholesale rebellion against Him, we’re informed that “God remembered Abraham” (Genesis 19). Likewise, early in the book of Exodus, when the people of Israel were subjected to devastating slavery at the hands of the Egyptians, the narrator alerts us to the fact that “God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
What are we to make of this proclamation? Did God space out for a while and forget His promises to his people?
The answer, of course, is no. When God is said to remember something, the author is not juxtaposing God’s apparent sudden recall with a potential forgetfulness on His part, as though certain things get lost in God’s mind and then abruptly resurface. Instead, the narrator is highlighting, in a way that resonates with us, God’s tender and perfectly-timed actions on behalf of His (often faithless) children.
Think, for example, of how Noah must have felt after he’d been drifting on a raging sea for almost a year, following the onslaught of the world’s greatest flood. Hopeless. Forsaken. Resigned to a slow death. Nineteenth century scholar, R.S. Candlish summarizes the account like this: “Far down in the unfathomable depths below, lies a dead and buried world. Noah, shut up in his narrow prison, seems to be abandoned to his fate. He cannot help himself. And in this universal visitation of sin—this terrible reckoning with sinners—why should he obtain mercy? What is he, that when all else are taken, he should be left? May he not be righteously suffered to perish after all? Is he not a sinner, like the rest?”
Noah had undoubtedly thought, “This is the end for me. God is gone. I’m doomed.” And then we’re told, “But God remembered Noah.”
Can you relate? Perhaps there was a time in your life when God’s presence seemed so evident. It was undeniable. Maybe there was a turning point when you were delivered from a sickness, a relational struggle or the uncertainty of unemployment. Or all three. But then, things fell apart. A new illness seized your body, the conflict re-emerged, and yet another job was lost. Leaving you to wonder, What happened to God? Where is He?
Sadly, these thoughts inflict us more often than we would care to confess. And in those moments, just like Noah, or Abraham, or the Israelites, we tend to lose hope in God’s promises.
The good news is that we may forget God, but He never forgets us. We may lose hope in Him, but He never loses hope in us. After all, He made us who we are. And it won’t be our strength that carries us through to the end; it will be His. With great affection, God promises to keep us to Himself. How can we be sure? The cross reminds us that God is present, with His mercy and love, especially when it looks like He is not. On the cross God demonstrated in the most arresting way possible that He will spare no expense, so to speak, in attending to the needs of those He loves.
As you read this email, you may feel completely alone. Abandoned by God. But if you are in Christ, you can take great comfort in the fact that God has not forgotten you. And He never will. At just the right time, according to His infinite wisdom, He will act in a way that is for your good. He will remember you.