Ever felt you are no longer on God’s agenda? Then here’s some wise advice.

So far as God is concerned, have you ever felt ‘forgotten’? As though the train has left the station and you are still on the platform?

Meanwhile, ‘on the train’, your fellow believers are achieving more than you. Are more successful than you. Have their prayers answered more than you. Live in the excitement of the moment while you drably plod on.

That can especially be the experience of those with their full-time working days behind them. And with what is supposed to be a new adventure of opportunity feeling more like a wet weekend in Scunthorpe.

Worse still, have you ever felt as if you’ve had your fair share of pain and suffering? That no matter how much you pray amidst your trials and tribulations, nothing seems to change?

Desperately and achingly it seems that God has forgotten you.

Yet, deep down, you know the creator who made you and loves you is still there. But why he is not pulling you out of the situation you’re in or change your circumstances? Why?

Please let me share my perspective on your circumstances, with some very important things to keep in mind.

Don’t go blaming yourself

It’s a trap to blame yourself, wondering if it’s all because you don’t have enough faith, or some previous and as yet undiscovered sin, or even an ancestral curse that’s come your way.

You would not even be asking the ‘where’s God got to?’ question if any of that were true. And no amount of faith has ever shielded any believer from the ‘Has God forgotten me?’ question.

Face up to the reality of life

When push comes to shove, the reality is that life is not fair. All of us are likely to experience challenges and difficulties on this journey called life. And we must face the fact that some have it much tougher than others.

For people of faith, pondering on this can bring about doubts on whether God really exists or, if he does, is he really good as we are told he is? But that is just how it is.

Don’t be surprised

If we are to take the words of Jesus seriously we should know that tough times are more likely than not. After all, didn’t he say, ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ John 16:33.

Be patient

A glance through the lives of Biblical heroes should remind us ‘to take heart’ or ‘to wait on the Lord’ or be encouraged to keep on keeping on.

Joseph was seventeen when sold into slavery by his brothers and it took thirteen more years before he arrived in the palace – having suffered a great deal of injustice in the meantime.

Consider too the patience and hope in God shown by the barren women of the Bible who eventually had a child. Those like Sarah, who gave birth to Isaac in her nineties. And Rebekah, who became the mother of twins Jacob and Esau after twenty years of marriage. Even they felt as if God had forgotten them, yet their faith was steadfast.

Embrace the mystery

Why God works in this way is a mystery. But God’s ways are not our ways and no one can fathom them. God rises above and beyond our human understanding and what our human mind can comprehend.

What is certain however, is human suffering is real and the mental distress it causes unescapable.

While on earth, Jesus himself went through tough times in the hours leading up to his humiliating and atrocious death – surpassing what most of us would feel bearable.

From Matthew’s Gospel we learn that, in the night before he died, ‘taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, Jesus began to be sorrowful and troubled.’ Matthew 26:37. If the Son of God could be sorrowful and troubled why would we expect to be spared from these emotions?

Then on the cross Jesus asked his father ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Again, Jesus’s feeling of abandonment– left at the station when the train had gone – is another reminder that such feelings can be authentic for a Christian.

Put it to use

The Bible tells us God uses desert experiences and tough times to shape our character. That, though he doesn’t inflict them, he puts them to use – for our good.

In his letter to the churches James puts it this way, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’  James 1: 2-4

Of course, though we may be able to recognise our bad times as character-building, it doesn’t make them easier to live through them. If we’re honest, we can’t wait to kiss goodbye to tough seasons in our lives.

Be patient

The concept of time in suffering is significant. When going through difficulties or tough seasons, no one knows how long they will last or if they will ever end. That’s where patience comes in.

Remarkably, Paul chose a Greek word closely related to ‘patience’ when listing the fruits of the spirit. We most often find it translated as ‘longsuffering’ or forbearance. But the literal translation would be ‘long-tempered’, emphasising the need to grow the attribute to stay cool when struggling or frustrated.

Longsuffering is a precious fruit of the spirit to possess and as beautiful as is joy or peace, and kindness or gentleness. How admirable is it to see someone hanging onto their faith in the most desolate places.

My niece recently lost her baby at 20 weeks into her pregnancy following a major struggle to conceive. When I contacted her to say how sorry her immediate reply was ‘God has not changed in my eyes, auntie’. My eyes filled up with tears.

God’s silence doesn’t mean God’s absence

Almost certainly you will know of the poem ‘Footprints’ – where two sets of footprints in the sand become one from time to time. And with God’s explanation being, ‘When you see only one set of footprints, it was then, that I carried you’. My precious, precious child I love you and I will never leave you.’

When you feel God has forgotten you, just remember he is there. In the midst of your trials, not only does he see your pain, he suffers in silence with you just like Jesus did on the cross.

The idea that God is present only when he is working things through for us, or when our prayers are answered or when he rescues us, is flawed. God is with us – with you – in hard times too.

As singer and speaker Sheila Walsh explains in ‘Loved back to Life’ it is undoubtedly in those moments, as we give all we have to draw closer to him, that we may be able to recognise that we exist for him and not him for us.

Ultimately, he doesn’t owe us anything, we owe him everything.

Ludivine Kadimba

Ludivine Kadimba is an Executive Assistant at Kintsugi Hope which provides safe and supportive spaces and resources for those experiencing mental and emotional health challenges. Check them out at Kintsugi Hope.

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife