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My God, my God, why have you deserted me? Why are you so far away? Won’t you listen to my groans and come to my rescue? Psalms 22:1 (CEV)

There’s an old saying that ‘when a plane is going down, there are no atheists’. When death stares us in the face; when the crisis seems too big to bear; when we feel completely alone, abandoned and helpless, our thoughts turn to God, or at least to some supreme, higher power.

The words of Psalm 22 are referred to as a ‘Messianic Psalm’. This means that the words of the Psalmist, words written hundreds of years before Christ was born, look forward to his coming and to his suffering in our behalf.

While this is true, it’s important that we remember the original context of the words. This was a Psalm of confession. This was a Psalm of honesty and desperation. After all, where is God in our deepest need? It’s easy to find him when things go well. It’s easy to sense his presence when the bills are paid, our children’s grades are good and the report from the doctor is positive. But where is he when none of those things apply? Even in the midst of his despair the Psalmist acknowledged his faith in God. Even during the darkest night he reaffirmed his confidence that God would see him through.

At times God seems distant and unconcerned about our plight here on earth, but that is not true. He loves us and as any loving father desperately wants a love relationship with us. There are times however when his distance is not because he has moved but because we have moved away from him. Sin is the primary culprit when we feel God’s distance.

While Jesus had no sin in him these words were some of the final words Jesus spoke from the cross. During those final hours he addresses his father as ‘My God’. There is no other place that I can think of in scripture where Jesus addresses God as ‘My God’. Everywhere else he talks about ‘His Father’. But when sin enters the picture (not his but mine) the intimate phrase of ‘Father’ is replaced by the term ‘My God.’

It was sin that kept the fathers back turned to his own son. Not because of his lack of love but because his holiness doesn’t allow him to look on sin.

It was sin caused the feelings of utter despair and separation within the very soul of the savior. Sin drives a wedge in the relationship. Sin replaces our feelings of love with fear and emptiness, just as it did with Adam and Eve in the garden.

Sin does the same thing today. Sin, but whatever name we call it can not be a part of a healthy, secure relationship with the living God. While sin separates us from God, it doesn’t have to be that way. The feelings of separation Jesus felt in his dying moments paved the way to a deeper relationship with God.

Jesus felt the separation sin caused because he knew the Father and he knew when the Father’s presence was missing. You may remember a time in your life when God seemed real, but time and circumstances have taken that from you. There’s still hope. God hasn’t forsaken you. Sin may have clouded your vision of him. Forgiveness is still there for you. The relationship can be restored. And it’s all because of Jesus.

PRAYER: God, I remember a time in my life when you were real to me. I felt your power. I knew your presence. Like the little boy in ‘The Polar Express’, I heard the bells. But today I feel distant from you. Examine my heart. Show me where I’ve sinned. Forgive me now and restore our relationship through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:7

There are times in each of our lives when we feel inadequate for the task ahead of us. It happens to all of us. We feel inadequate in relationships, in our jobs, in our classes. The feeling of inadequacy can attack us at any time and in any place.

We feel in adequate as parents when our children make poor choices or challenge our authority; or when the boss gives us a new job we aren’t trained to do; or when we are forced to do something that is out of our comfort zone; or when we are challenged to try something new and risky.

Our past can make us feel inadequate as well. When we are growing up the reaction we sense we get from parents, teachers and friends can have a life-long impact on what we believe about our abilities. The mistakes we make as youth can haunt us and be a constant voice that tells us that there’s a big ‘L’ on our forehead and it stands for LOSER! Try as we may, we can’t help noticing the ‘L’, and if we let affect us it will change our lives forever.

Isaiah gives us a better way to think. Imagine that ‘L’ on your forehead stands for LOVED! If God is sovereign (and He is) then everything that happens in your life is ordained by Him. That doesn’t mean everything that happened in your life will necessarily be seen as good. What it does mean is that nothing can happen in your lifetime that God is not aware of and that He won’t see you through.

Following God in the tough times isn’t easy, it takes guts. It takes faith. It takes trusting in a power that is far great than us. But the rewards for following Him are eternally blessed. When we put our faith in what we know to be true about God, regardless of what society may say, we will never ever be put to shame. We aren’t called to perfection, we are called to live for Him to the best of our ability knowing that no matter how often we fail, He still loves us and still desires to have us in relationship with Him.

Isaiah says, “I set my face like flint”. The word picture he gives us is to ‘harden your face’ against those who may attack you. When we really come to the place where we realize how much God loves us we will not be afraid of the attacks of others. We won’t be dismayed when we are harassed or teased for our beliefs. We know who the King is and He’s our daddy!

When you feel completely overwhelmed; when it seems like the world is stacked against you, remember that the Sovereign God, the creator of the world, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is not only on your side. He’s madly in love with you. When you choose to follow Him the adversity and trouble of life will be easier to take because you are resolved to follow Him.

PRAYER: Holy Father. I thank you for the promise you made to always love me and protect me. Thank you for the patience you’ve shown to me by putting up with my failures and rebellion. I ask that you would enable me, by the power of your Holy Spirit to live a life that is free of shame because I have set my face like flint to follow you.

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