Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forsaken But Not Destroyed

Photo by Alfredi

Have you ever been abandoned, left totally alone to fend for yourself? From personal experience, I can say it's one of the worst feelings in the world. You feel totally helpless, kicked in the gut, spit on, and pretty much worthless all around. You feel completely confused as to why you have been abandoned in the first place. You feel that it is an unjustifiable action of those who have abandoned you.

In My Story over the last couple of years, I have unfortunately experienced abandonment. Someone that I thought I knew and trusted with all that I am, simply just walked away. Crazy, absurd, rude, selfish...all of these thoughts entered my mind, but it didn't solve my problem. I was now abandoned, left to fend (mostly) for myself moving forward in life.

When I contemplate abandonment, I am reminded of the movie Cast Away starring Tom Hanks. Through no fault of his own, Chuck Noland's (Tom Hanks) FedEx plane crashes into the Pacific Ocean, where he is left to fend for himself for several years on a deserted island - no rescue planes, no boats, no nothing! He was presumed dead along with the other members of the crew.

And when I think of abandonment, I'm also reminded of the life of our Lord Jesus who was abandoned by all His followers right before His trial, beating, and crucifixion.

Jesus Was Abandoned

I have come to the conclusion that those of us that have experienced abandonment are in excellent company. Surrounding the hours leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, He was completely forsaken. All of his disciples completely abandoned the Jesus' ship, even His inner-circle of three disciples - Peter, James, and John. He had no one to help with His defense. He was left alone to defend Himself in front of both the Jewish rulers and Roman authorities.

Even when He hung on the cross in the last few minutes of His existence in the form of human flesh, He cried out to God the Father, asking Him why He had abandoned Him on the cross to die. In Matthew 27:46, we read Jesus' words to the Father:
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
Even God the Father had to turn His face from His Son as He bore our sin and our shame on the cross.

God's Promises

In the book The Man God Uses, author Henry Blackaby writes about the experience of abandonment  in this way:
Because God has given you promises in his Word, you can, with great confidence in God's unfailing presence and provision, live your life boldly before a watching and hurting world. Everyone may forsake you, even your family and friends, but this will not destroy you, for you know God's promises! You know God has not, nor will he ever, leave you or forsake you. Others who watch you will be amazed at your faith and will be attracted to the God you serve. Your testimony of God's faithfulness will draw them (p. 154).
When I experienced abandonment a couple of years ago, I knew God's promises. I believed in God's promises. It was difficult, but I stuck to my beliefs and trusted in God to sustain me through that difficult time. Plus, as a staff minister at a Bible-believing church, I knew people were watching me and how I would handle myself through the process.

People Are Watching

What Henry Blackaby wrote in the above quote is true. People are watching us, believers and non-believers alike. They want to see if you truly believe what you say you believe. In my case, it was even more challenging, because I had a personal blog full of posts stating what I believed about God. I was put through a test that I had no idea was coming when I first started this blog.

And you know what? I started hearing from people that were watching me live out my life, listening to what I said, and reading what I wrote. The cool part of a difficult situation is that I was able to influence their walk with the Lord in a positive manner, and for that I'm thankful.

You know what else? At some point in time over the last couple of years, massive changes and healing took place in my life. I can look back at the situation and praise God for using this time to mold me and shape me into who He wants me to be. Plus, I no longer feel abandoned. I am surrounded by family, friends, and a church family that love me.

Final Words Of Encouragement

If you're feeling abandoned right now, just remember these things: First, trust in God and rely on Him. Second, allow Him to do His work in your life. And third, your abandonment will not last forever. Psalm 30:5-12 has been an appropriate reflection for me and my situation. Perhaps you can find comfort in these words as well:
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” 
LORD, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.To you, LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? 
Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me; LORD, be my help.” 
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
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