Questions, Problems, Feeling Forgotten, and God’s Absence

How’s that for a title???

I began blogging for the New Year on January 2.  I wrote these words:  Last year, before Advent, we were working through some questions that several of you had submitted to me – questions about following Jesus in our daily lives and dealing with some of the struggles that we can face on that journey.  Several questions dealt with feeling like God was absent, not listening or answering, or had simply moved on to something or someone else and had left someone feeling alone and forgotten.

I wrote one blog on that subject, about the fact that God loves us, and God is always good, even when He seems distant.  I intended to move from there to writing about the power of brokenness and some other important concepts about dealing with pain and disappointment and feeling distant from God.

Then I lost a close friend, my family ran the gauntlet of flu, I had a medical procedure, annual reports came due, appointments stacked up, and a ton of other stuff felt like it hit at once, and I got sidetracked from blogging.

So I planned to begin this week with an “I need to get back on track with blogging day.”

I want to get back to these important issues of feeling that God is absent, and subsequently feeling either that God is not hearing or that you are alone and forgotten.  These issues can arise for a number of reasons, like unanswered prayer, suffering, trauma, disappointments with God or with people, uncertainty, a lack of clarity when you feel like you’ve done everything you can to hear God’s voice and discern His will, tragedies, and the list can go on and on.

I was starting to plan out what I was going to write about all of these.

Then, on Friday afternoon, Jewel and I were in DuBois picking up a few things at Staples when I got a phone call from my doctor – “get to the ER right away.”  It turns out that I had a major problem with some blood work results from that morning.

Not too many phrases get your attention as immediately and as completely as “get to the ER immediately.”

At first, I kept this very private.  I’m not always as willing to be as vulnerable as I should be.  My ministry experiences and my experiences growing up as PK mean that I am used to life in the “fish bowl” – and so, as a result, I have tended to protect my privacy fairly fiercely.  But I’m learning that while a certain level of privacy is important and appropriate, I also need community, and as a leader, I need to be willing to vulnerable if I want to be able to minister deeply to others.

So, full disclosure – as I am beginning to write about struggling through some of these questions and issues, I am not just writing about things I’ve worked through or dealt with in my past.  I am also writing about my present state of mind and about processing some of these same questions myself. 

I am living in the midst of uncertainty.  I’ve got at least three medical procedures looming over me, with the potential for more.  My family is very worried about me.  I’m dealing with symptoms and issues and limitations that I am not used to dealing with, and that I don’t want.  I didn’t ask for this.

But I can also say this:  it is well with my soul.

God is good.  He’s got me, He’s got this, and He’s got my family.

We’ll continue the conversation tomorrow.

In the meantime, I pray this for you:  I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13 (NLT)