God Withdrew

I was doing my morning Bible study and came across something that made me pause and think for a bit.  You see, we are always told that God will never leave us.  And for the most part, that is true.  He is always there.  His presence is all around.

But…

There have been times in my life where I have felt as if God was not with me.  There have been times when I felt that He must have moved away for some reason.  Sometimes, this caused me to feel angry.  Sometimes, this caused me to cling tighter.  The point is, I felt He wasn’t with me and I had to choose whether to continue on in faith or just close myself off from Him completely.

That brings me to today’s study which came from the book of 2 Chronicles.  I was reading about King Hezekiah.  Hezekiah was considered a good king.  For most of his time as king he did what was pleasing in God’s sight.  However, towards the end of his reign, Hezekiah became ill and prayed to God.  God then healed him and gave him some sort of miraculous sign.  That sounds really great, and it would have been, but Hezekiah took that moment and responded in a poor way.  He became full of pride.

I can just imagine that Hezekiah felt pretty special right then.  Maybe he even thought, “Oh, look at me, the Lord favors me so much that nothing can touch me.”

But God doesn’t do pride.  In fact, all throughout the Bible pride gets punished.  And in Hezekiah’s case, the Lord became angry and came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32:24-25) – Hezekiah’s sin affected everyone!

But knowing he had sinned, Hezekiah came to his senses and repented.  The people of Jerusalem repented as well.  And the Lord did not punish them (2 Chronicles 32:26).

There have been times in my life when I definitely puffed myself up in pride.  And I believe the Lord has, on many occasions, humbled me.  But what I never thought about until now is that God may have then taken some time to test me.  He may have taken some time to see if I was really believing what I profess to believe.  He may have taken some time to see if my faith was all it should be.

He may have withdrawn… Those times when I felt God wasn’t with me, well, He very well may not have been.  I think back to one moment in particular in my life when I physically felt God leave.  It was almost immediate, it was in a time of anger for me when I thought I could control everything, and I felt Him just exit.

That sound extreme.  Some people like to teach that God leaving you just isn’t possible.

But Hezekiah’s story proves that it is.

After Hezekiah repented of his sin and God chose not to have His anger fall on him, Hezekiah built up all kinds of treasuries and storehouses.  He built towns and acquired many flocks and herds.  He gained much more wealth and he succeeded greatly in everything he did.

Eventually, ambassadors from Babylon showed up.  They wanted to know about how all this greatness had taken place.  I think it’s safe to say, in modern terms, that they wanted to know Hezekiah’s secret.

And that is when God withdrew.

Yep, God took the first exit.  He withdrew from Hezekiah.  Because God will move away from you.

Why?

The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 32:31 that God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him.  He withdrew to see what was really in Hezekiah’s heart.  In other words, He withdrew to make sure Hezekiah was putting his faith and trust where it needed to be and not falling back on his pride.

So indeed, at times in life I have felt God leave for a bit.  And that happens.  He did withdraw for a time.  And in those times, I grew.  I can look back to that one particular moment I spoke of and see the growth.  And I see the exact moment when God came back in and said, “I’m still here and now you’re ready to move forward.”

Because sometimes God has to step away in order for us to step up.

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