Twelve years ago, God brought a major transition into my life that not only affected me directly, but had very strong and life-changing ramifications for my wife and children. It is no easy thing to change from knowing how exactly you are going to spend each day to having to recreate a routine and even a new lifestyle. But even harder are those moments that your heavenly Father brings to you that force you to examine calling and destiny and precipitate your having to redefine who and what you are – even if it is merely a refining of what you already know about yourself.
That transition was a time of crisis for us in many ways as we adjusted to the physical and material implications of the changes that came. The bigger crisis, however, was the not knowing what was happening and the opportunity that Satan took to really press us with questions about God’s faithfulness and love. That season was, on the one hand, a time of complete chaos and I will admit that I did not have a clear sense of God’s presence, although I trusted that He was there. Dealing with a new livelihood and the financial strains it placed upon us, I felt that I was in no way prepared to begin the process to navigate those changes, although I made myself take necessary steps.
How were we going to make it? What would I do? How could I make everything all right for my dear wife and children – these beautiful people for whom I was responsible?
The fear of the unknown was nearly tangible and the hurt we felt at the hands of many whom we had trusted and loved was crushing. I felt the sensation of being utterly out-of-control with a sickening intensity and I didn’t know where to turn. I looked for God, but could neither see nor hear Him.
This time of rejection taught me that storms come as do dry seasons, times of loss, and moments of pain. When such things come to us, we face the temptation to believe that God has left us and forgotten us. Depending on the degree to which we experience it and the depth of our roots of confidence in God’s sufficiency, rejection can create such an aching vacuum in our hearts that all we can feel is aloneness… a feeling of abandonment that we then project onto God. We “feel” alone, so we decide that we must truly be alone. Rejection frames the mind and heart for believing in the lie of our having been abandoned and we find ourselves wide open to despair.
The repercussions of arriving at that kind of conclusion can be cataclysmic. For example, one is more susceptible to disastrous life choices when he feels abandoned than at any other point in time. Why? Because he will be quick to join with anyone or anything that will take him in and accept him. People who turn to abusive relationships find it easier to bear emotional or even physical abuse than being alone and unwanted.
Not only that, but when a person feels abandoned, she no longer has any sense of moral obligation to the one perceived as having abandoned her. A child abandoned by his parents has no obligation to them to obey them. A wife abandoned by her husband has no moral obligation to act like his wife. When we allow ourselves to feel abandoned by God, we naturally do not feel any particular impulse to live a life that honors Him. The feeling of abandonment is powerful in determining our future because it has enormous power in influencing our choices.
Because the feeling of abandonment is so potentially devastating, we need to stop when we get caught up in feelings of rejection and ask some very important questions: “Am I really alone? Or do I just feel what way?” Remember, what you think you feel is not necessarily the way it is.
In a moment of such desperate trial, we are forced to decide what will function as the authority under which we live. The opinions of others, material rewards, and even physical comforts can obviously be allowed to hold that kind of authority over us. More subtle, perhaps, is the question of whether or not our emotions are going to govern us as opposed to God’s revelation of Himself in His Word, the Bible.
Anger, sorrow, greed, lust, and laziness are all feelings that the Bible warns us against. He especially warns us against fear because fear almost always misleads us in regard to life choices. The ultimate exception to this is a reverential fear of the awesome might and holiness of God which has a unique way of putting everything in its proper perspective.
Jesus, the Son of God, made some special promises to us that have the power to override our feelings of fear (or whatever). In Matthew 28:20b, Jesus promises, “I am with you always.” Think of it! God, Who revealed Himself to us by taking on human form with all its limitations, has promised us that He will always be with us! While He does not do that in physical form with us today, He does it in spirit by His Holy Spirit! He is with you! And if He is with you, then you are not now – nor ever – abandoned! And if you are not abandoned, then you are not unwanted. And if you are not unwanted, then you, in spite of your failings and weaknesses, are wanted. You are wanted!