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Monday, May 6, 2013

The Question of God and Abandonment

I decided to interrupt my mid-twenties recollections of lessons learned about God while sojourning on earth to focus on an important question. We’ll pick up the journey after taking a brief look at the lives of John the Baptist, Jesus, and Job to see why the things happened to them as they did.

All were faithful servants, yet there is no question about their innocence in the events through which they suffered, and for John and Jesus, died. Did God abandon these servants?

The father of a close friend and colleague of mine raised a question that I thought might be one with which you have also struggled at tough times in your life: Has God abandoned me? Her father is, himself, coming to the end of his earthly sojourn, related to an illness that began producing symptoms only a couple of years ago. The diagnosis was finally made a month ago, with the verdict… inoperable.

He is a good man, who has worked hard long past the time most have retired to enjoy leisurely days. At 86, he finally did retire. Truly, her father can bring before the Lord a long list of good works he has done in his own defense and ask the question, “Why me, God? Have you abandoned me?”

We know that he is going through the natural process of grieving, where this question is commonly posed, but the mention of Jesus and Job as examples of men God had also abandoned, set my mind to pondering the question.

Why did these faithful servants suffer what looks to be a miserable period of time in their lives when they had proven themselves faithful to God? Why did the suffering of Jesus and John end in, what looks to a lot of folks, like a very tragic and untimely death? Is there something for me to learn from their stories?

In earlier posts, I have mentioned Psalm 139:16 which tells us that, before we have even breathed one breath on planet earth, our days have been numbered. Of course, the way we live our life may, certainly, affect God’s plan for that outcome; but we will be addressing those who have, to the best of their understanding, lived a life pleasing to God.

Don’t worry if you are one who has come to God later in life, all of us have been forgiven of sin and moved on. God has forgiven us and re-directed our steps, in order that we can fulfill the mission He had in mind when He sent us here. Though times may get tough during the journey, it would be comforting to know that God won’t abandon us near the end.

The quick glance at the end of the lives of John and Jesus, definitely, look like these men were on their own. Their lives ended just when the young men were doing what they had been born to do! I mean, can you imagine how many more good years the thirty-something John, one of the most aggressive and productive evangelist who ever lived, could have worked? His diet of honey and locusts wouldn’t cause him to be troubled with cholesterol or obesity; that’s for sure. To the outsider, looking in, his death was very premature and unplanned. Was it?

Jesus died when his adult ministry had been going only three years. Why, it’d barely got off the ground. There must have been a lot more people that needed his healing touch, or could have been freed from demonic influence in their lives by His Word. Why stop when Jesus was just getting started? Really doesn’t seem like a good deal for those who are always looking for the Five- and Ten-Year Plan for their mission or business. I mean, only three years!

And, poor old Job! Now, there’s a guy who didn’t die an early death, but how was his faithfulness rewarded? Destruction, loss, and suffering. What’s up with that? I thought God was always just? Not only that, but Job’s life was the very first book ever written of all the Scriptures.

Well, I can tell you, if God’d asked me, I wouldn’t have made the Book of Job the first when there are so many other examples of blessings as a result of proven loyalty and faithfulness to the Master.

But, as we will see when we get to the man, Job, there’s more to the story than unreasonable pain and suffering on top of loss and destruction of all Job had in his life. Okay, there was that one family member who survived…that wife of his who suggested he just curse God and die… but I’m not sure she was a lot of help to the poor man.

We’ll get to Job and his troubles, but first let’s take a look at the cousins, John and Jesus, who died and suffered just as their work was going so well. Can Father God have had any reason to not keep them at their posts until a ripe old age?

****Did God Abandon John the Baptist?... Next Post

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