This morning in my time with the Lord, I was reading in Genesis 40, which is the account of Joseph in prison for a crime he did not commit. The Bible is not clear as to the length of his confinement before his release, but we do know that Joseph knew that was not the end for him—there was more to come according to the prophetic dreams of the Lord that had been planted in his spirit thirteen years prior as a young lad of seventeen. What a strange set of circumstances Joseph experienced over that time span for someone who was destined to rule! Ruling from an Egyptian dungeon must have seemed so contrary to what was burning in his heart regarding his life of power and authority according to the providential dreams. Somehow we can accept as part of life when our circumstances are adverse for a day or a week or perhaps a month, but Joseph walked this strange path for many years which is no easy thing to face day by day, waking up every morning to the sense of the same old, same old! If it were not for the fact that the Genesis account records several times that “God was with Joseph” we would naturally assume that God had abandoned Joseph. There is no indication that Joseph ever felt forgotten by God, but he did implore the butler to remember him before Pharaoh for his innocence, which the pardoned butler failed to do.
Forgotten by God! How is that even possible with a forever faithful God who promises to never leave nor forsake His children. And yet many times He must hide Himself from us for a season to perfect our faith in His unfailing Word and His sinless character. What seems like desertion to us is only God’s greater wisdom and love being active in our spiritual growth and walk of faith without sight or feelings. As God was with Joseph in the midst of his hard trial, so is He with us who are right now experiencing a season of testing—a feeling of being forgotten by God. Matthew Henry claimed that God’s silence is not an indication of His absence. May I be so bold as to declare that your very sense of abandonment by your Heavenly Father is evidence that you are growing in the Lord in great measure, which is exactly what He is after. You are not alone. Many of God’s choicest saints have experienced the very same feelings for a season. Job is one of them. Moses is another. But David takes the prize for conveying his true feelings in Psalm 13 where he expresses with lament, “Oh, God, how long will you forget me, forever?” Read the psalm and you will identify with the man after God’s own heart who felt utterly forsaken by the Lover of his soul.
“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 Lest my enemy say,
“I have prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
5 But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.”
I have read this psalm of anguish countless times over the years and it has never failed to encourage me in my own seasons of struggle when God appears to have hidden His face from me. I’m so glad David did not end his psalm with verse 4—thank God he went on in faith to pen the last two verses with “But I have trusted in Your mercy”. Amen. God’s mercies are new every morning and that’s all that matters. Even now as I write this blog, there are stirrings and yearnings in my heart for destined promises of God made to me years ago that are yet to be fulfilled. Sometimes I feel like I could have written Psalm 13—my prayers to the Lord often include that very line of desperation, “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?” and yet without fail, I have risen from prayer encouraged and strengthened by the God who watches over His Word (His promise) to fulfill it. As the old hymn reminds us, “Farther along, we’ll know all about it, farther along, we’ll understand why, cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine, we’ll understand it all by and by”. May that “by and by” come to pass this year for you and for me as we walk by faith with full certainty and unshakable confidence that God is with us as He was with all who have gone before us! Your divine destiny is right on course though it feels like you’re in a prison of circumstances that you have no control over. Though God may hide His face, He is not withholding His mercy! Trust in that today and tomorrow! Very soon, you will awake to a new day of freedom and fulfillment!