"My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus uttered these raw and soul-weary words as he hung dying on the cross. He was quoting David’s painfully honest prayer in Psalm 22, which goes on to say, “Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief. . . . O LORD, do not stay far away!” (verses 1–2, 19).
Have you ever felt forsaken or abandoned by God? Has it ever seemed to you that he is far away, ignoring your heartfelt prayers? Have you ever felt spiritually alone?
Where Are You, God?
“A few years ago, I went through an experience that I can only describe as God’s silence,” Lesa Engelthaler explains. “It began with multiple nos in answer to my prayer requests. Then after some time, I could not feel his presence at all. Some might describe it as a dark night of the soul. It was definitely a time when God seemed far away. It broke my heart and shook my faith.” For Lesa, this period of spiritual struggle lasted several years.
Darcy Wiley had a similar experience while serving as a missionary in a country that is closed to the gospel. “I struggled with sadness about a broken relationship back home,” she describes. “My emails were going unanswered and my prayers seemed the same. Soon, it became difficult to concentrate on the love right in front of me: love from God, good friends, and the people I’d come to serve. I felt distant from God and unfit for ministry.” Darcy felt this way, she explains, even though, “I knew in my head that God was always near.”1