Jesus Did It!
By: Norm Rasmussen
If you've been a Christian for any length of time, there has probably been at least one time when you have felt like God has forsaken you - betrayed you. You prayed (or someone else prayed); you trusted that God would grant you your heart's desire in a given matter, and He didn't come through the way you expected Him to come though.
Then came the discouragement and possibly some low-level anger. The sickening feeling that God had forsaken you may very well have shaken your confidence in Him like nothing else has.
It's a terrible thing to feel like God has forsaken you, isn't it?
There's a darkness in your soul that words are hard to describe it adequately. Part of you is thinking, 'I'm not sure whether I want to trust God or not anymore. I mean -- what's the use?'
Jesus Christ experienced the feeling of being forsaken by God The Father worse than any other human being who has walked this earth. While on the cross dying, the sins of every person on this planet were being heaped on Jesus. It was why Jesus had come to earth for ' to be slaughtered like an innocent lamb in our place ' to become the scapegoat who would take the Father's wrath for the sins of you and I -- for the sins of world.
Up until this painful moment in time, Jesus had always experienced oneness with His heavenly Father. But suddenly that oneness was compromised. God the Father could not be one with his son Jesus because of all the sin laid upon Him. The sin bought painful separation.
Because God the Father had to separate Himself from Jesus due to the sins of the world heaped on Jesus, Jesus felt a spiritual separation that caused Jesus to painfully cry out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
Jesus knew while still in the Garden of Gethsemane only hours earlier that His dying on the cross was not going to be easy, but He had little idea there was coming such a painful separation between Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Most likely, Satan himself was present while Jesus gasped for breath on the cross, saying to Jesus while the separation was manifesting itself:
"Look what has happened to yourself? You trusted God to see you through all this, and where did it get you in your darkest hour? Absolutely nowhere! You gave your life in vain and you know it! You were deceived into thinking the Father was going to maintain intimacy with you during your crucifixion. What a fool. Your death on this cross has accomplished absolutely nothing, and the proof of it is that The Father has left you when He should be here comforting you if He really loved you."
Jesus probably wasn't aware at the moment that the Father was administering one of the most difficult tests that a human can experience, which is the: God has betrayed me test.
Scripture tells us in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus was tempted in every way that any other person has or will be tempted to sin, yet He never gave into those temptations and sinned. Had Jesus sinned even one time, that would have disqualified Him to be an acceptable sacrifice to the Father to atone for the sins of the people of this world: Those alive at the time, those who had died previous to this time, and those who would be born later on.
Dear reader, if you feel as though God has somehow betrayed you, God is administering the very same test to you that Jesus was administered on the cross. Jesus knows the pain of your rejection. Jesus knows the sickening feelings of abandonment and rejection from God the Father you may be experiencing at this moment, and He is praying for you while being seated on the right hand of the Father. He's praying that you will not stop trusting the Father from here going forward. He's praying that you will come to the understanding that you've encountered the most painful test the Father gives a person ' the painful test of feeling betrayed by God that causes you to cry out to God: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
Why does God give us such a painful test? To see who is going to become and/or remain a disciple of Jesus Christ, and see who will turn away from remaining a disciple of Jesus Christ.
In case you aren't aware of it, God will not always grant us the desires of our heart at the expense of bypassing character growth in us.
Saying it another way, God is far more interested in birthing character growth in us than anything else in this life, because character growth formed in us has eternal ramifications. Christians who don't turn their back on God indefinitely will co-reign with Jesus Christ through eternity, because they have proven to Him they can be trusted to stick with Him through every "test" He chooses to give them.
In Christian circles, some question what it fully means "to be baptized in the Holy Spirit". Interestingly ... we don't question much what it means to be "baptized by fire."
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worth to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
"His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:1-12 NKJV).
Christ tests us by allowing fiery trials to reveal our character flaws, and to grow Godly character as we allow Him to. Any time you are tempted to feel like God has forsaken you, God's blow torch is aimed in your direction. How you handle the flame is crucially important.
Satan and a third of the angels that fell with Satan lacked the proper righteous character necessary for them to stay obedient to God. The time came when they could no longer be trusted by God to serve Him properly.
God can always be trusted to do what's best in every situation. The question IS: Can WE be trusted to hang in there with God when we feel He has forsaken us?
It is much easier to become and remain being a Christian when God answers our every prayer -- granting us our every heart's desire. It is perhaps the most difficult thing to do (yet wisest thing to do) to keep hanging in there with God and keep from being bitter at Him when things don't go the way we hope and/or expect.
A wise Christian has learned something about God that will keep them from pulling away from God when temptation may be knocking to do so because of feelings of betrayal:
Give thanks to God in all things, (See: 1 Thess. 5:18) and for all things. (See: Ephesians 5:20). It's the way to pass every test God gives you for your spiritual growth while remaining free from bitterness at God. However - don't be confused about giving thanks for "ALL" things. God isn't asking us to be thankful that Satan has or is inflicting evil against us. God NEVER wants us being thankful for evil Satan launches against us and others! Remaining thankful while Satan is sifting us is a Christ-like PURPOSEFUL MIND SET God is talking about. God wants us believing through our trial that He will be there fighting for us to make it THROUGH the trial without becoming angry and bitter at Him. God wants us believing through our trial that He will reward us in eternity for holding up under the trial. God wants us also believing that once we are through our trial and God has brought deliverance and/or healing and blessing to us ... He is going to use us to help OTHERS get through THEIR trials. (This too God will reward us for in eternity).
Let us always remember that our goal is to WISELY THINK Christ-likeness at all times. We need to rely on the Holy Spirit to help us do that, especially when the temptation to be angry and frustrated with God is the greatest. Jesus no doubt had various temptations thrown at Him to be angry with the Father -- especially during the period of His crucifixion when the crushing depression and hopelessness fell upon Him when the past, present and future sins of the world (sins of yours and mine!) was put upon Him by the Father. Yet the Bible clearly tells us that He refused to be angry with the Father, or the people who Satan was using to cause His pain. The antidote the Holy Spirit gave Jesus to use against His temptation to want to bring WRATH against the people responsible for His crucifixion was: "Father - forgive them for they know not what they do." The Father DIDN'T forgive them any more than Jesus forgave them (unless they repented to Him and sincerely asked His forgiveness and ultimately let Jesus be their Savior and Lord before dying) -- but it was the antidote ... or the missile to destroy Satan's missile of temptation to get Jesus angry to the degree that the Father would see it as sin. Remember - it most likely was the GREATEST temptation to sin He ever faced. And if Jesus would have sinned just ONCE - His crucifixion for you and I would have been in total vain. (The Father could ONLY accept a perfectly sinless human sacrifice to make payment for our sins, otherwise it wouldn't have accomplished the eternal plan of the Father to make you and I as holy as He and Jesus and the Holy Spirit ARE).
There is a time to FORGIVE our earthly enemies (for OUR good) which they most likely don't deserve it. It is STILL the antidote God wants us to use to keep us spiritually healthy when everything in us wants God to execute His wrath against them in 10 seconds or less, and even better at moments like that, "Use ME to be the executer of it without any repercussions, God!"
As an important sidebar regarding trials: Many of our trials that Satan inflicts against us has to do with deceptive Christian teaching we have believed that centers around "The Prosperity Gospel." Under this "Deceitful Prosperity Gospel Umbrella" comes many deadly tentacles. Essentially, the Prosperity Gospel is the belief that God desires that everything goes "rosy" in the life of a Christian. No pain; no sorrow; no troubles. Financial favor and pain free/hassle free from sickness and/or disease. God's favor every step we take; every day we live. God wants me happy and joyous 24 x 7! God wants to give me the desires of my heart, because He says so in Psalms, and suffering is not for me! Yes - God often does give us the desires of our heart, but sometimes not until we have been sifted like wheat at Satan's hand, and sometimes not even then, and here's WHY: Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
Yet let us always remember this about God: No matter WHAT Satan is allowed to inflict against us and/or our loved ones ... God can turn it around for our ultimate good and glory. Martyred saints may not see God vindicate them in this life, but in glory they will be amply vindicated and rewarded. God delights in turning our trials Satan launches against us into praiseworthy triumphs. Sometimes He does so in this life - we have every right to believe He will! But if He chooses not to, then for certain we'll realize the triumph/s in glory.
The Christian who says to God, "God -- whatever you decide is best for me, I accept it, no matter how much pain might accompany it. I trust your wisdom for my life because I know that battling hardships is Your way of birthing Christ-like character in me which has eternal rewards connected with it."
If it's any encouragement to keep pressing on with God in your walk with the Lord during your time of trial ... I've tasted the pain of feeling like God has betrayed me - like God has let me down. (You can read about it if you would like: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Exhortations/f-j/JobEncounters.htm)
Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12 NKJV)
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"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
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GOD - WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?