Just when you think God has abandoned you, take heart. Your temporary trouble is designed to bring about a beautiful ending.
Then the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
I replied, “Figs, some very good and some very bad, too rotten to eat.”
Then the Lord gave me this message: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The good figs represent the exiles I sent from Judah to the land of the Babylonians. I will watch over and care for them, and I will bring them back here again. I will build them up and not tear them down. I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly.
“But the bad figs,” the Lord said, “represent King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, all the people left in Jerusalem, and those who live in Egypt. I will treat them like bad figs, too rotten to eat. (Jeremiah 24:3-8)
It is a terrible, painful time when you think God has abandoned you. All kinds of terrible thoughts may go through your head. You may think you’re so polluted with sin that God doesn’t want to talk to you. There may be an emptiness in your soul because you are not feeling His presence.
It is possible that you have been walking in your own ways and the distance you are feeling is due to the need to repent. But today, we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about those times when God feels distant because some circumstance has made His presence distant to us.
We can only view our side of reality. We do not have God’s vantage point. If you did, then when you think God has abandoned you, you would understand 2 things. He has not abandoned you, and that if you endure for a little while, you will experience His presence even more fully than before.
God Has Not Abandoned Us
What is really happening when you think God has abandoned you? When we review today’s passage, we get that peek into God’s side of reality.
This passage is about a vision God provided the prophet Jeremiah. It helps us understand that while some of the Jewish people were taken from their land into Babylonian exile, God had not abandoned them. It may have appeared that way at the time, but God was not punishing them or deserting them; in fact, while they were in exile, He was loving and caring for them.
See some of the language used here. God will watch over them, build them up, and plant them. Almost like a master gardener – these precious living beings were transplanted into foreign soil, but God made sure they were cared for.
And yet, they were forcefully taken into this strange land. Without the understanding of God’s love, and trust in Him, it is understandable how one would think God had abandoned them.
Returning Wholeheartedly to God
The other thing we learn in this passage is that when you think God has abandoned you, the truth is He is growing you. Sometimes, God grows us in silence. But the silence will not last forever. In fact, he may be steering your heart towards revival.
And during that silence, while God is watching over His people, He is doing something else. He is shaping His people’s hearts, giving them hearts “that recognize..the Lord”.
There will be times when you think God has abandoned you when in fact, God has a purpose in your own “time of exile”. If you feel God is distant, He may be growing your heart to love Him more.
I can understand this in my own personal life. In fact, it was this passage that God brought to my attention as I have been going through a prolonged time of intense pressure in my own life. I have had to endure this for some time, and it was crowding out everything. I was living in fear that God’s seeds were landing in the rocky third field in that famous parable (Matthew 13:1-23).
It was only after some time that I realized He was ensuring that when He did bring me back out of that time, that I was going to return to God wholeheartedly, as today’s passage says.
Had God abandoned me? No, his watchful eye was over me the entire time. And he was shaping my heart so that I would long for Him, relish Him once my time of “exile” had come to an end.
What to Do When You Feel Abandoned by God
Exile can take on many different forms. Perhaps a loved one gets very sick and incapacitated. Maybe your job gets overly difficult for a long period of time. Perhaps you have to temporarily move away to a place far from your comfort zone.
What do we do in times like these? Here is what to do when you feel abandoned by God. It’s not going to be complicated.
Trust. Putting your faith and trust in Christ is more than a one-time decision. It is something that is meant to be a lifelong, daily thing. To trust God in any situation we find ourselves in.
We must trust that God has not abandoned us, and trust that there is a purpose in the time of exile we are experiencing. Even if that purpose is to make us so hungry for His presence that it is at times painful for us.
Remember friend, the Bible tells us we should actually be joyful in the face of a trial such as enduring a time of exile, because it tests and grows our faith (James 1:2-4).
It may be difficult when going through tough times, but we must continue to abide with Christ. We do this through prayer, studying the Bible, and fellowshipping with other believers, even when we aren’t feeling intimacy with Him. Continuing in these abiding disciplines will help us endure and keep our hearts pointed towards God. Otherwise, we may be tempted to give up and seek our own ways to ease the pain or walk a path of our own choosing – which is always going to be less than God’s best for us.
More Bible verses for when you feel like God has abandoned you: