Confused and Abandoned
Sometimes all we can do is cry out to God. Life, as wonderful as it can be, also brings difficulties and confusion. Even our best attempts end up leaving us wondering what went wrong. We believe and hear that God loves us, but at times, we wonder what it means to be loved by God. On a surface level, we may believe that being loved by God means that things will work out, but then they don’t.
When you pay close attention to Psalm 44 you are left with a sense of abandonment. The psalmist remembers the “good old days” when God delivered his people from other nations while establishing them in victory. Israel wasn’t victorious because they were mightier or more powerful than other nations, but because God was with them. They trusted God and God came through.
The psalmist doesn’t just ruminate about better days. He also recognizes how God has been with them as well. They trusted God and because of that trust, they were able to defeat their enemies.
Quickly the tone becomes very dark at verse 9. Joyous praise turns to themes of abandonment. Israel has been rejected. Enemies are victorious. Why has God left them? Why have they been sold out (see verse 12) by God? The psalmist doesn’t understand.
There is no praise here, only remembrance of better days. Instead of praise and victory, there is shame and disgrace.
Perhaps the saddest part of this Psalm is the confusion it elicits from the writer. The psalmist doesn’t understand why any of this would be happening. If Israel had abandoned God then their predicament would make sense, but that, he maintains, is not the case. They have not forgotten God or have been “false” to his covenant. They have been faithful. Yet, God has abandoned them.
The Psalm ends by calling God to wake up from his slumber and help his people. The psalmist begs God to come to their help and redemption for the sake of his unfailing love.
I’ve had days when I’ve wondered why. If I’m doing my best, why aren’t things working out? Where is God when I’m in pain? Sometimes it seems like following God doesn’t pay off. I understand the sentiment of this psalm. Feeling that God has, unjustly, left us, we cry out with the psalmist. Was the psalmist justified in his accusation against God? Are we?
Scripture tells us that no one is faithful, not one. We do not deserve God’s love or even God’s presence. Paul writes that we have all sinned (Romans 3:10;3:23) and have gone our own way. No one is righteous. In light of our sin, we cannot expect God to bless us or bring us victory. When he does it is grace; all grace.
Has God Left?
I feel for the psalmist. He feels if they are faithful to God, God will grant victory. He believes they have been faithful to God’s covenant. Yet, they have been defeated. It must be hard to watch your world crumble. When your world does crumble, of course you would look for reasons why.
Had God left his people? No. Even during the height of Israel’s unfaithfulness when they turned their back on God and ended up exiled, God never turned his back on them. God’s desire was that his people turn to him, be in relationship with him, and follow him in love.
God’s Last Word on Love
God’s ultimate display of love and grace came through Jesus. Faithfulness to God does not necessarily mean we achieve our dreams, or everything goes well. There is a deeper reality. Jesus showed us not only what faithfulness looks like, but God.
God wants to lead us to places of blessings, but sometimes, to get there, we go through times of trial and confusion. I love that the psalmist, even in his confusion and pain, has not given up. He calls out to God for help and redemption. Feeling abandoned, he abandons himself to God.
We can too. We are not alone. In defeat, God is with us in Jesus. In victories, God is with us in Jesus. As John Wesley said on his deathbed, “Best of all, God is with us.” May you discover that truth.