“Then he said to me, ‘The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great. The land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice. For they say, “The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see.”‘” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Ezekiel was prophesying during a hard season in the life of the people of Israel. The good and faithful King Josiah had instituted incredible moral and spiritual reforms among the people. But after his death, the people went right back to the paganism they had pursued before him. This proved to be the final straw. God sent Babylon to enact His judgment against the people.
Far from getting their attention and causing them to turn back to him, after Babylon’s initial conquest of the city, the people were angry with God and turned from Him still. They wouldn’t repent and go His way. They believed the Lord had forsaken them and in their anger, many ran even further from Him. They got to the point where they were actively pursuing various pagan and even demonic rituals in the temple itself!
Now, perhaps you haven’t turned to anything demonic or explicitly pagan, but have you ever gotten angry with God and in your anger turned from Him to sin of some kind? I can say with assurance that it’s easy to do.
Something happens that leaves you wondering at God’s goodness and you respond by essentially trying to get back at Him by sinning. We’ll show Him! If He’s going to abandon us like that (or so we think), we’ll hurt Him worse by committing a sin of some kind. It is an unfortunately common way of thinking.
Yet, who does this really hurt? Not God. It may break His heart, but what does that do for us? It doesn’t make us feel any better in the long run, and it leaves us separated from our only real source of help in the short run. Now sure, it may give us a quick salve for our pain at whatever has happened, and for some folks that’s good enough. But what good is it to numb the pain if it separates you from life? It isn’t good at all. Not only do you stay hurt, but you wind up hurting the people around you who love you because hurt people, hurt people.
The truth is that God is sovereign over His creation. If He has allowed something to happen that you don’t like or that has hurt you, there is a reason for it. You may not understand the reason or even ever get the reason, but that doesn’t mean He does not have a morally sufficient reason for allowing it. It could be, as was the case for Israel, that it is an act of judgment, and if you respond by running further into your sin, the God who refuses to give up on you is going to have to up the ante to get your attention. You’ll only be inviting more pain by running further from Him.
Instead, when things get toughest and even though it will go hard against your natural inclination, turn to God. Turn with a heart of repentance and faith. Turn with a heart of trust and gratitude. Turn and let Him show you where to go next. He is your faithful guide. He will not leave you or forsake you. He may let you walk through the valley of the shadow of death and even seem to separate Himself from you for a season to draw you to seek Him even harder, but He will not abandon you forever. There is life on the other side of the valley. Keep walking until you find it with His help.