"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.”
Embracing God's Promises
Despite what we feel during periods of spiritual loneliness, God’s faithful presence with us is an unchanging and eternal reality. We are never alone. Every circumstance we walk through and every emotion we feel can be viewed through the lens of God’s truth: “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” ().
Does this mean we never feel like God is far away? Certainly not. Throughout Scripture we see experiences of spiritual loneliness like Darcy’s or dark nights like Lesa’s for even the most earnest of believers. Dedicated faith doesn’t protect us from painful experiences like these and many other forms of suffering—but God’s powerful promise is that he is with us through and amid the torrent: “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown” (, emphasis added). When life frightens us or gets us down—or when life seems like a war and we feel like we’re alone on the battlefield—we can take confidence in God’s promise to be with us.