Has God left the building?

Do you ever feel like God has gone missing?  That all the things you thought God ought to be doing weren’t happening?  That the miracles you thought God ought to perform were going undone?  Or maybe you are the one who has chosen the wrong path and hurt yourself and maybe even a lot of other people and think God is pretty much done with you?

In the letter of Hebrews, there is an interesting quote that none of the translations do justice to.  Most translate it something like this:

God has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb 13:5c).

But in the Greek, what it actually says is:

God has said, “No! I will never leave you. No! No! I will not forsake you” (Heb 13:5c).

There are actually five negatives in the verse.  The author really wants us to get the fact that God isn’t going to leave us under any circumstances ever! But there is more.  If I take the literal Greek a bit further, what it really says is:

God has said, “No! I will never give up on you. No! No! I will not abandon you”
(Heb 13:5c).

This is obviously not just a theological statement to the author of Hebrews.  It’s emotional – it’s real life stuff.  God is for us – forever!  Let that sink in.  If you are like me, it isn’t the “good news” you grew up with where God was always waiting for a chance to lower the boom on some poor soul somewhere.

And yet, there is still something else interesting about this verse.  Just before this incredible promise, the Greek says:

“Without coveting (wanting what God hasn’t given you), be content with the things present” (Heb 13:5b).

Once again, here is God’s love setting us free.  Because we can trust that God is always for us, we are set free from wanting things God hasn’t given us and free to be content with the things we have. We don’t have to strain over getting more money, more power, more prestige – or even fixing all of our mistakes.  We can rest and be content for we already have the love of the creator of the universe.  And the creator promises:

“No! I will never give up on you. No! No! I will not abandon you.”

Then the author of Hebrews wraps it all up by writing:

Therefore we can say with bold confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” (Heb 13:6).

God hasn’t left the building.  Trust that!  God is crazy in love with you.

left the building

***

April describes herself as a Red Letter Christian who writes about scripture and spiritual disciplines. See her latest book, James in the Suburbs: The Disorderly Parable of the Epistle of James. Great for an individual read or group Bible studies! You can follow her blog by clicking on the three dots in upper right hand of this page and scrolling down.

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