Have you ever been abandoned? Has someone who had a role of responsibility or commitment in your life just walked away? Said that you were not worth the effort, or simply found someone else to love or chose to live life without you? Perhaps it was your father when you were a child. Or a spouse after a few (or many) years of marriage. Maybe your partner left you in the line of fire.
Not everyone has gone through the heartbreak of being thrown away. Praise God for that. If God has placed people of integrity in your life who fulfill their commitments, love God and love you well, then praise God for that blessing! If God has placed people in your life who have thrown you away or abandoned you, may I offer this simple, yet profoundly deep promise:
“I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”
– Heb 13.5
This promise that the author claims for believers in their daily walk with God is a direct quote from the Old Testament,
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
– Deut 31.6
When we read the Old Testament, we must be careful to investigate the context and not over apply promises that were made to the people of Israel as promises guaranteed to us. Sometimes those promises are not for us. But this promise, one of the most glorious of promises in Scripture, we see taught to the church as a whole in the book of Hebrews, and we see that it is the character of God to care for His own, so we can boldly claim with confidence and rest in His promise that He will never leave us.
You cannot hurt God’s feelings too badly. You cannot be too ugly or too undesirable. You cannot alienate yourself from Him, if you have come to Him for salvation and are repenting of your sins. When you keep stumbling into the same sin, even though you hate it and are trying to die to it, if you confess it He will forgive it. He will not bring it up in the next fight.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
– 1 John 1.9
We have a tendency to allow our life circumstances to shape our personalities, dispositions and psyches. Some people have erroneously allowed themselves or others to distrust God or rebuke Biblical pictures of God because of their experiences. For example, some people say, “I do not want God to be my father because my own father abandoned me when I was 2.” Or, “I do not understand the father relationship because I never had a father.” Others revile the imagery of Christ as the bridegroom of the Church because of an abusive husband, or one who has an affair and is unfaithful.
But this is an immature response, and one that looks inward instead of outward. Even if you have not been abandoned on such an extreme level, we have all been sinned against. And playing the victim, expecting people and God to fail you is fundamentally a lack of faith. If you are always the victim and the world is out to get you, you need to take a reality check. Look at the suffering around you, and better yet, consider the suffering of Christ. You have not suffered in His likeness. Count your blessings. If you expect people to fail you, and are a bitter cynic, then you need to turn your focus on Jesus. Yes, people are going to fail you. Everyone will fail you. But we have failed God infinitely worse than any human being will fail us, and if we embrace His forgiveness and redemption, then the onus lays squarely on our shoulders to offer the same grace and forgiveness to others. He who has been forgiven much loves much (Luke 7.47). If you expect God to fail you, then you have never encountered God.
Trust issues are real. I am not trying to convey that they are not or that they are easily conquered. If you have been abandoned, the scars run deeply and the hurt and pain will resurface at unexpected times throughout your life. But the way to heal, to fight the fear, and to grow with God is to fight the emotions with truth. God has promised us that He will never abandon us. He is by your side every moment of every day. The Holy Spirit permanently indwells you upon the moment of coming to faith. He will empower you to trust and obey.
So go ahead. Fight the fear. Feel the depths of the pain and let it remind you of the vast love that the Savior has for you. And that which no one here on Earth can even come close to matching. In fact, God’s love for us is so perfect and pure that compared to Him and His love, the unfaithful abandoning father is not that dissimilar from the faithful earthly father. God is that infinitely good.
Thank Him for your blessings, and let your trials and hurts remind you of His infinite goodness. Cling to the promise, He will never leave you, and trust Him.