To completely and utterly forsake. To give up on. To withdraw from. Doesn’t quite hit home? Have you ever been lost in the store as a child – thinking you knew exactly where you were, and where your parents were, only to realize that they weren’t there and you couldn’t find them? Then the thought enters your mind, “What if they left me?!” Your stomach drops to your feet as you heart drops to fill the void your stomach left. That feeling – Abandonment. Were you really abandoned? No! But that didn’t change the fact that you thought you were and your perception of reality, although not really reality, really affected you. Scary isn’t it?
To complicate things even more, the feeling of abandonment has various levels of strengths as well as the circumstances that bring it on. Some never feel abandoned, other may feel such after finding out they have an incurable illness or experience some massive traumatic event, but some can feel this way when something as small happens such as mashing their finger in a door. Unbelieving and believers alike experience this emotion. Even though we have the promise of God, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5) believers still feel abandoned at times. Scripture doesn’t deny this fact, rather it states it clearly: Psalm 13
How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
David wasn’t actually forsaken of God, but he felt that he was and it is that feeling he expresses in Psalm 13. The truth is, Christians do feel abandoned at times. Is this a sin? Absolutely not! The sin is when you believe it for it’s at this point you call God a liar amongst other things. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:10 “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” Ephesians depicts the weapons of the devil as fiery darts that the shield of faith can quench (see a previous post discussing this). The thoughts and emotions that try to drown us are to be taken captive and subjected to the truth of Jesus. Those darts come in hot and heavy though, and that’s what makes it so hard. He doesn’t throw one dart, he throws 30, and they all say different things, some even conflicting. Something painful enters your life and here comes the fiery barrage: “How could this happen to me?”, “God, You’re suppose to be loving!”, “If I were God I would NEVER let my child go through this!!”, “If I were really His child I wouldn’t be thinking such things!”, “Maybe I’m not His child after all and that’s why this is happening to me.”, “God must hate me!”, “God can’t be just and let this happen to me!”, etc. These thoughts and feelings can come in faster than you can read them here. What you do in response to those thoughts is where you’re responsible. You’re not responsible for what the Devil throws at you, you’re responsible to raise your shield and quench it.
It’s not wrong to tell God how you feel. There is a difference between shaking your fist at God for what has happened to you and running to Him with tears in your eyes as you pour your heart out to Him. Telling Him you feel as if He has abandoned you isn’t the same as accusing Him of actually doing so. Follow David’s lead and run to God and tell Him how you feel and ask Him to help you through it.
Trust Jesus. I’m sure you’re probably thinking, “Easy for you to say!” No matter what our circumstances are, the answer to the feelings of abandonment is the same – Trust God. That’s what it means to rest in Him, to cling to His promises. Let me give two illustrations: 1. Last night I laid the boys down after reading to them the story of how David was being pursued by Saul and when given the chance to kill Saul, David refused as He trusted that God would work out His plan in His time. Part of that story we emphasized how David was fleeing for his life and hiding in a cave. He cried out to God and told God that he didn’t see how he was ever going to be king like God promised him. David had no army, no prophet and priest to guide him. We read on to discover how God provided all of those things for David. We prayed and I put them to bed. Micaiah, my 5 year old, calls out to me after being in the room for about 45 minutes and says he is afraid of monsters. Now, there are no monsters in his room, and I tell him that, but I don’t leave it there. As he gets older, the existence of his monsters are going to become much more probable as they are no more slimy green scary creatures that hide in his closet, rather fear of failure, pain, death, rejection, etc. So I proceed to instruct him… “Micaiah, there are no monsters in your room, but even if there were, do you know who is more powerful than any monster ever?” Zechariah pipes up, “GOD!”
“That’s right, Zechariah! Micaiah, God is watching out for you and He will not let anything happed to you that is not what is best for you. You can trust God.”
Notice what I did not promise him. I did not tell him that God will never let anything bad happen to him. That’s not true. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, He never sinned rather perfectly obeyed The Father. Yet Jesus Christ was falsely accused, severely beaten, and crucified on a cross. So painful was this method of death that we get our word “excruciating” from it. No, God doesn’t promise to not let anything bad happen to those who trust Him. He does promise to work everything together for our good. (Romans 8:28) God is so sovereign that no one can foil His plans. Read through the book of Job and see how Satan was working with all his might to cause Job to curse God and God used all that he permitted Satan to do to actually reveal Himself more to his servant Job.
I want to conclude this post with three songs that God uses to encourage my heart. I hope you’ll take 15 more minutes and worship The LORD with these songs: