It might seem strange counsel but I believe people that are often discouraged and prone to negative thinking need to hear things like this:
God has not abandoned any of us any more than he abandoned Job. He never abandons anyone on whom he has set his love; nor does Christ, the good shepherd, ever lose track of his sheep. It is as false as it is irreverent to accuse God of forgetting, or overlooking, or losing interest in, the state and needs of his own people. If you have been resigning yourself to the thought that God has left you high and dry, seek grace to be ashamed of yourself. Such unbelieving pessimism deeply dishonors our great God and Savior. (J.I. Packer, Knowing God, 88-89)
Doesn’t it feel like we’ve been abandoned at times, though? Doesn’t it feel as if we can pray Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”?
Packer himself likely had times of feeling “left high and dry”. As he recalls in his latest work, Weakness is the Way, Packer was a “solitary and rather somber child”. He “had to wear at school, for ten years, a black aluminum patch covering a hole in [his] head…and hence was unable to play outdoor games.” This, Packer says, left him “feeling out of most of what mattered”. He likely felt Psalm 22;
Now to really feel Psalm 22 we have to feel it in its entirety. And that is what the above Packer quote is referencing. It’s right—and in fact quite like Christ—to express Psalm 22:1. But if you leave it there—without embracing the redemption of Psalm 22—you are accusing God of being less than He is.
Though we are the afflicted and we feel that in our bones, at the same time faith beckons us to cry out, “The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied.” Yes, this is true. I know it to be true because Jesus has fulfilled Psalm 22.
And because of this I know that the Great Shepherd will never abandon his sheep…including me. Even if I have engaged in the “unbelieving pessimism” that “deeply dishonors our great God and Savior”.
Jesus is just that great.