Oceans Deep

Finding & Following Jesus in the Deep End of Life

Stones & Snakes

Hello, dear reader!

Today, I want to write about a tough subject: what do you do when you feel like God has abandoned or forgotten about you? I would venture to guess that if you’ve been a believer for any amount of time, you’ve run up against this awful, nagging doubt.

I know I have.

Some of the most “ick” feelings I’ve ever experienced have resulted from either believing or being tempted to believe the hideous lie that God has abandoned me. It’s a pain more intense than anything another human could bring about—we’re all fallen and imperfect, we know we’re inevitably going to hurt one another along the way.

But to feel that God has forgotten about us, His very own creation? That, my friend, is an ache too deep for the soul to bear.

It’s easy to find articles and posts about trusting God with all the little, annoying things in life—but what about when you’re truly struggling to believe and hang on in faith? In my experience, when those times come, it takes a lot more than a syrupy anecdote or flowery saying to lift my heart up and out of the pit. If you’re in that place today, I hope I’m able to imbue you with a little bit of encouragement.

Good Gifts?

As I’ve been marinating on and praying through some of my own difficult circumstances lately, I came across the following passage:

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11 NIV).

Though I’m familiar with this passage, two words jumped off the page at me: stones and snakes.

They punched me in the gut and left a lingering sinking feeling, because I had to admit that sometimes, it feels like I’ve been given stones and snakes instead of the good gifts for which I’d hoped and prayed. And I look at the circumstances of various dear friends and think, stones and snakes

That illness?

That marriage?

That infertility?

That loneliness?

That poverty?

When we find ourselves in these circumstances, it’s all too easy to sit down at the table and see a feast of anything and everything we never wanted. And as always, our enemy is all-too-eager to aid in encouraging that point of view, smoothly persuading us to believe that God has indeed left us with such empty fare, because—well, fill in the blank:

Because we’re not loved enough.

Because we’re not good enough.

Because we’re not significant enough.

Because we’re believing whatever heinous lie we’ve been told.

It all adds up and leads to that most dreaded of questions … Lord, why?

When you’re a toddler exploring your world, “why” is a perfectly reasonable and innocuous question. But when you’re an adult and you’re asking it of God? Well, that’s a different ballgame and one that carries unwelcomed implications.

Finding Light in the Darkness

I realize I’ve painted a bit of a bleak picture above, but—if we’re honest—this is our reality sometimes, right? The walls feel as though they’re caving in, the lights have gone out, and God seems as distant as some far off planet.

Thankfully, all is most certainly not lost, no matter what our hearts try to tell us. You want to know the beautiful truth about these times, these circumstances?

This is where faith is poised to soar.

This is where we can dig deep, lean heavy into Him. This is where we can uncover those “treasures of darkness” (see Isaiah 45:3). Indeed, those treasures that will only be found in darkness.

And in the dark, their beauty shines all the brighter, all the more remarkable.

As hard and as scary as it is—believe me, I know, I’ve been there—these are the places where you have the privilege of discovering the Father on a whole new level. You are presented with the opportunity to know Him at a depth few people ever reach.

So in the words of Journey, don’t stop believin’.

Better yet, in the words of Hebrews 10:35-36:

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised (NIV).

When your banquet table is scattered with items you’d do anything to send back, don’t buy the lie that it’s Your Heavenly Father trading out good gifts for stones and snakes.

Trust His timing. Trust His plan. Know that He is working all things together for your ultimate good and His ultimate glory (see Romans 8:28).

I adore these poetic words from Habakkuk, and they have been a life raft during seasons of doubt:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV, emphasis mine).

Today, you and I have the choice to see our circumstances with either spiritual eyes or with our own faulty human eyes. And if it looks like you’ve been left holding a stone today, take heart, dear one: God has you right where He wants you—ready to take your faith to the next level.

May we, like Habakkuk, cling to the truth of who we know Him to be, holding on in faith until we see what great things He has in store!

4 Comments

  1. Such true and encouraging words! Write on baby girl!!

  2. I had Missed this one and oddly it was waiting for me at just the right time today 🙂

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