Our lives are fragile. The roof over our head may be gone tomorrow. The money in our savings account might disappear. Those dear to us in our immediate family circle may be absent in the near future. The fragility of life alone generates uncertainty and fear in some people.
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5 Steps to Take When You Feel Forgotten
2 Truths to Remember During Dark Times
Perhaps worst of all is the feeling of being abandoned in the midst of all this uncertainty. It’s one thing to endure hardships as part of a group—to navigate difficult waters under the discerning gaze of a competent captain who is able to bring you through any storm and land you at a place of safety. It’s entirely something else to endure that storm on your own. To feel as if no one else sees and no one else cares.
In short, difficult circumstances will always be difficult. But their effect is multiplied tenfold when we feel like God has forgotten us.
What can we do when we feel like God has forgotten about us? First of all, we can remember the reality of who God is and what He has done. In order to accomplish that, it may be necessary to differentiate between feelings and truth.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that feelings are unimportant. They are not. Nor am I implying that feelings are not real. They are very much real, which is why they can affect us so deeply.
What I am saying is that there can be a disconnect between our feelings and the reality of our situation.
For example, it’s common for people to feel as if God has forgotten them. You and I have felt that way at times, and we may possibly feel that way in the future. It’s part of life. Not only that, the men and women chronicled in God’s Word felt that way—Moses, David, Jeremiah, Hannah, Job, the apostles, and more. Even Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Those feelings are real. They matter. They influence not only our thoughts but also our actions. And they can cause us real and lasting pain if we allow them to take hold of us.
Yet those feelings don’t reflect reality. That’s because God cannot forget us. It’s impossible for Him to do so given His nature—given who He is. God knows all things, and God takes special care to actively monitor us and guide us through every moment of our lives.
The reality is that you are never forgotten. Not by God.
5 Steps to Take When You Feel Forgotten
Here are some practical steps you can take when your feelings come into conflict with that reality.
- Identify your feelings. One of the most difficult aspects about separating our feelings from reality is how our thinking is often affected by those same feelings. So, one of the first things we can do when it seems like God has forgotten about us is to identify what we are feeling. Ask yourself, What am I feeling specifically? Am I angry? Frustrated? Lonely? Grieving? Exhausted? Anxious? Bitter? Bored?
- Express your feelings to God. Once you identify your feelings and recognize how they are affecting your emotions, turn them over to God through prayer. Speak with Him about your feelings. Be specific, and don’t hold back. Be completely honest. Getting those feelings off your chest is an important step toward emotional and spiritual healing by giving your cares to God. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).
- Express your feelings to others. Talking with others about your feelings is another helpful step when it seems as if God has forgotten you. Of course, I recommend speaking with people you know and trust—people who know the Word of God and are spiritually mature. Be open about your feelings, and then give your counselor the opportunity to offer guidance and care from the Word of God. As Scripture says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
- Identify what you know to be true. Negative feelings often overwhelm us based on something we “think” is true or something that “might” be true—such as the idea that God doesn’t care. Such speculations are unhelpful. What is helpful is identifying what you know to be true about whatever situation is causing you to feel abandoned. For instance, What do I know of God’s true character? What are the facts in my current circumstance?
- Express what is true. Being aware of what is true is important, but talking through that reality in prayer or in a conversation with others is key to separating feelings from reality. Make the effort to verbally express what is true and it will cement that truth in your mind and heart.
In our lives, there are times when we feel surrounded by emotional or spiritual darkness. Circumstances can become so bleak that we feel shrouded by them—which is a major reason we often feel forgotten. When we can’t “see” God or trace His hand because of events in our lives, it’s easy to believe He no longer cares.
2 Truths to Remember During Dark Times
For these reasons and more, I want to offer two truths you need to remember during those seasons of darkness.
Jesus is the Light of the world.
Jesus was teaching in the temple one day when He was interrupted in an unusual way: “Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?’” (John 8:3-5).
You are likely familiar with the rest of the story. Jesus took some time to draw in the sand, allowing the tension to build as the Pharisees continued to pepper Him with questions. Then He dropped the hammer on those seeking to shame Him: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7).
Stung by their own hypocrisy, the instigators left. Turning to the woman, Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11). The story serves as a familiar and much-loved demonstration of God’s grace.
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Yet look at what happened afterward. The very next verse says that Jesus turned back to the crowd and resumed His teaching by offering this truth: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
I cannot imagine how dark that moment must have been for the woman Jesus rescued. She had made the choice to sin, yes, but then she was accosted by strangers and dragged out into public view, likely with no clothes to shield her. (Notice the man was not dragged away with her.) Then she was thrown down in front of everyone at the temple and threatened with stoning—a truly terrible form of capital punishment. And then, draped in her shame and humiliation, she was forced to look into the eyes of Christ.
She found kindness in those eyes. Forgiveness. Grace, and in that moment, the darkness was banished.
Jesus, the Light of the world, broke through and offered her hope.
He does the same for you and me. Yes, times of darkness will come. We will endure seasons when it seems as if nothing is going right and we are oppressed on every side. Yet if we draw close to Christ in those moments, we will experience His light.
You are the light of the world.
The Sermon on the Mount is the most famous and best-loved sermon ever preached. Recorded in Matthew 5–7, Jesus’ teachings in that moment have resonated for centuries as a primary and foundational expression of the Christian life.
One element of those teachings might sound interesting, even strange, given what we just read in the pages above:
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
Jesus was very specific in His language: “You are the light of the world.” Yet how can we align that sentiment with what we already encountered from John 8:12? In that verse Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”
Which is it? Is Jesus the Light of the world, or is it us?
The answer, of course, is both. Jesus is the Light of the world, but His followers have been imbued and filled with His Holy Spirit. Therefore, Christians both reflect Jesus’ light and serve as lanterns through which God shines His light.
Don’t miss the second section of Jesus’ teaching: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” When we are facing a season of darkness—when it seems like even God has forgotten about us—it’s easy to become fixated on ourselves. It’s easy to think only of ourselves.
However, followers of Jesus are called to live with an external focus. We are tasked with shining God’s light into the darkness of our world and ministering to the people around us who are walking through dark times and feeling abandoned. We have a huge role to play in helping others recognize that God is at work in the world—that He has not forgotten them—and He has a plan of redemption that will assure them of a home in heaven one day.
That’s the wonderful thing about living for Christ. The more we give of ourselves, the more we gain. The more we invest our resources into God’s kingdom—our time, treasure, and talents—the greater the harvest both for today and for eternity. And as we actively choose to model Jesus in our daily lives, our own issues and trials will fade in importance. Having Jesus with us on our life journey, we are reminded of God’s unconditional love for us, that he has a purpose for our pain and a plan to use us for His glory. We can trust our lives into His loving care.
This article was excerpted from Dr. David Jeremiah’s book, God Has Not Forgotten You.