There are inevitably times in our lives when it feels like we are praying into a cavern. There are times when it feels like God is far away and we aren’t confident are prayers are heard, let alone that they will be answered. It is in these times we find ourselves heartbroken, losing hope, alienated. We withdraw from friends, sometimes from family. We are sure no one understands our darkness. We don’t want to burden everyone else anyway. They all seem to be doing fine, or they have their own problems and don’t need bothered with ours.
We cry out to God in these times because we believe He understands and He cares, but no answer comes. The problems continue to mount. The answers continue to evade us. The pain doesn’t get any easier. Each day is a chore, a burden to get up and face the challenges it will bring. This is the reality we face in these times. And nothing we’ve been taught, none of our Bible lessons, none of our self help books, prepared us for this.
So where is hope? It is in the promise. God promised He would never leave or forsake us. He may seem distant, but He is in fact near. Nearer in fact to the broken. There will come grace, there will come hope. These sorrows are for but a moment. But in that moment, it feels like eternity. But we can hold on to the knowledge that God never forsakes us, even when we feel forsaken. And on the other side of the valley of the shadow of death, we will find ourselves slightly more like the image of our savior.
I understand it is easy to say these things when you are not in the valley. It is easy to look back and reflect with hindsight on the journey through the darkness. It’s easier to look from the outside at the benefits of someone else’s journey. But, like Paul writing from prison encouraging the Philippians to rejoice, I write this from the darkness of the valley. I write from the place of pain, feeling like my prayers are not being heard. I write from the place of fear and anxiety, stress and tension. But the one thing that keeps me pushing through each day is the bit of hope I find in the promise that God is there, somewhere. That I haven’t been forsaken.