The Beast Named Abandonment

Abandonment is defined as “being left completely and finally; forsaken utterly; deserted.” Stated in such cold, clinical terms, it can lack much feeling. But when those terms have skin on them, when they have gotten to know you down to the core of who you are, when they have drawn you into a place of vulnerable relationship with you, and then when they leave you completely and finally, utterly forsake you, and desert your heart, things change.

Abandonment is no longer an abstract concept that other people might encounter: it becomes your own personal monster, following you around and nipping at your heels whenever you meet someone you think could be a good friend. It gnaws at you in the midst of arguments with your loved ones. It whispers dark thoughts in the dead of night. It says you’re not worth sticking around for, regardless of how good or pretty or useful or efficient or productive or (fill in the blank) you could ever be. Abandonment is not a lack of awareness of your existence—it’s a purposeful choice to leave you to fend for yourself. And this being left behind is nightmarish when it is perpetrated by sinful humans, but it is unbearable when you become convinced that the God who is supposed to “so love the world” will (or may, depending on your behavior) utterly forsake you, along with everybody else.

Fortunately, unattached to your fickle windswept feelings, God has placed solid truth for you to cling to as to a lifeline:

For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.

(Psalm 27:10)

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

(Deuteronomy 31:6)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8:38-39)

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

(Isaiah 49:15-16)

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

(Isaiah 41:10)

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:20)

He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”

(Hebrews 13:5)

Really, abandonment issues for the Christian come down to a choice: am I going to believe my feelings, which come and go, and make God a liar, or am I willing to submit my heart and thoughts to Him, refusing to let my emotions dictate the truth of the unchanging Lord? Abandonment is malicious; but when proper perspective holds your heart tight, that fear becomes the abominable snowman at the end of the old Rudolph film: it’s lost all of its teeth!

As believers, we are to mirror the heart of Jesus to our world. He will never leave us alone, so we are to be irritatingly persistent in our love for and presence with others. We have been invited into the family of God, and anybody who has sat through one event with their relatives knows that although you can’t choose your family, nothing can happen that will make your family stop being your family. But even if—even if—every single Christian we know turns and runs away, we have the Father heart of God to run to, and there we find we’re home.

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