Have you ever been ignored by someone who you care deeply about? To me, being ignored feels like the worst pain imaginable. When a person who is special to you lavishes you with attention, it feels like you’re on top of the world. But when that person ignores you, leaving you wanting and waiting and wondering, it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.
Even being rebuked or insulted is better than being ignored; at least that shows that the person cares enough to criticize you. But to be ignored feels like the person is saying, “You’re so unimportant to me that I can’t even be bothered to acknowledge your presence.” Except that they’re not saying anything at all. That can sting worse than any insult.
As I thought and prayed about my own situation, I suddenly realized: this must be how God feels. All the time.
By any conservative estimate, most of the world doesn't know the God revealed in the Bible, and therefore has no relationship with him. Even those of us who believe that he is real, he is with us, and he is not silent, still find ways to shut ourselves off to his reality, his presence, and his voice.
How often do we ignore God? And how much does this hurt him? Just to be clear, God does not feel things in exactly the same way that I do. God is not an emotional dimwit like me; he is entirely holy, good, and righteous. He has no need for self-pity, since he doesn't have any insecurity in his fully assured, perfect, divine self. Yet often in Scripture we sense his pain when we brush him aside. How much does it hurt God when billions of his beloved people ignore him?
Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah to the people of Israel, the Lord says: “My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
Not only did God’s chosen people turn away from him, the “spring of living water,” but they also chose something inferior instead. They prefered leaky pits dug into the ground. I can’t recall the last time I enjoyed a leaky pit, but I can identify with how I often choose almost anything besides dwelling in God’s presence.
Are you ignoring God? Ignoring someone only strains, and eventually disintegrates the relationship. The insights God has shown me through my recent experiences have given me a certain sense of peace beyond insight, knowing that God entirely empathizes with my pain. And it has been one of many reminders that whether happy and praising, or lamenting and cursing, we should never ignore our Lord.