If you haven’t read “When God Leaves You Hanging, Part 1”, click to go there first.
“God left me hanging.”
It’s a phrase created by someone who believed in God, but was impatient for Him to act in their life. Like a million others of us.
We pray and pray about our situation, but it doesn’t seem to get any better. Or it gets worse. We rage at God. He can’t possibly love us if he leaves us drowning in our pain. No, we’re not dying, but it sure feels like it. Or maybe we are dying. Or a loved one is or has been snatched from us.
Why then do we feel the noose around our necks? Why do we feel the rough cord closing around our throats, strangling us? Why do we feel the heaviness of our feet, weighing us down into Sheol?
God left Jesus hanging. Literally. On a tree. Naked. Surrounded by friend and foe. Taunted by his killers. And Jesus never disobeyed God. Not once. None of us can say that.
Jesus hung there, writhing in pain, waiting for the purpose. He knew why he had to suffer (Matthew 16:21, 27). It didn’t make it any less painful, but it motivated him not to break the chains that bound him to his “fate”. Rather, he embraced the cross like a friend, knowing that passed the pain was the promise. Beyond the suffering was salvation—his and ours.
We may not know the ultimate outcome of our situation and even if we did, we might not like it. But the One who sees all things through the lens of eternity works all things for the ultimate good (Romans 8:28). The question we have to wrestle with is: Who do we trust more, God or ourselves?
Let’s measure how powerful we are: We couldn’t prevent our birth or change our parents or siblings. We can’t change the color of our eyes or the pigment of our skin (unless you’re Michael Jackson but—no disrespect—he is dead). We can’t prevent cancer or heart attacks no matter how good we eat or how much we exercise. We can’t even keep ourselves from getting the common cold. Yeah, we’re bionic.
Jesus created the world with God (Genesis 1:26, Colossians 1:16-17), orchestrated his own birth, walked on water, healed the blind, the deaf, the mute, the crippled and the diseased. He had the power to call a legion of angels to his rescue when he got arrested, accused, tried, flogged, taunted, and crucified.
But he didn’t. He made himself powerless. He submitted to the greater purpose.
At the cross, God didn’t “leave Jesus hanging.” Jesus chose to wait on God’s perfect timing.
God never, ever abandons us. No matter how desperately we fling him from our hearts, no matter how far we run away, no matter how viciously we curse him, no matter how hardened we become.
He is waiting on us. To work in us, on us, and through us. And he’ll continue to wait, letting our pain soften our stony hearts so he can mold and shape them, fashioning them to fit perfectly into his own. Only then, when we are sheltered beneath his wings, nestled into the crook of his arm, and swallowed in the depths of his love, will we really understand why.