Have you ever been abandoned … deserted … left completely alone? It might be something you’re going through even now.
We all need safety, protection and a sense of connection to someone else. Children need to feel protected by their parents, a sense of being connected which tells them they’re not isolated and alone. Later in life we can fear being left behind by a lifelong spouse. Fear of abandonment can be very hard.
I love the way God speaks through the pages of the Bible right into the real issues of our lives today. In Isaiah 54 He paints a picture of abandonment: a wife, whose husband, the one who was once the closest to her, has gone. He isn’t coming back. He turns his face and looks at her as if she’s a stranger.
Abandonment is intensely painful, crushing your self-worth, making you feel like you must be bad: “Why did my parents abandon me? It must be me. It must be my fault Dad left … Mum left,” or “Why did he abandon me for another woman?” We might know very well it’s not our fault, but deep down there’s a doubt: “It must be me. I’m a bad child … husband … wife.”
This is how the Jews in captivity must have felt. Jerusalem was in ruins, they were in exile, thousands of miles away from home. They had been abandoned by God, and in their case they knew it was their fault. God had warned them again and again about worshipping false idols, but they didn’t listen. And now they were in captivity … deserted … abandoned … because of their sin: “We’re bad. We’re nothing among the nations”. With downcast face, they bowed their heads in shame.
You’d think that since they had repeatedly turned against God and ignored His warnings, He would have given up on them. That must have been what they expected. They must have been hopeless.
But, there was a big ‘but’: Our God is so gracious, so merciful, never giving up on His people, no matter what sin we’ve committed, what sin’s been committed against us or how far away from Him we’ve strayed. He sees their suffering, calling them: ‘the barren one, who has never had a baby, afflicted city, storm-battered, unpitied’ and He says, ‘It’s with lasting love that I’m tenderly caring for you … even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces, My love won’t walk away from you, My covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.’
Such undeserved, yet unparalleled, words of tender love and compassion must have been the last thing the Israelites expected to hear. But it was God’s heart for them, and, as Paul reminds us (Ephesians 2:13), through Jesus this is God’s loving heart for us too, especially those going through the storms of life, suffering, feeling abandoned, lonely, uncared for or overlooked. Our Father God says: “Don't be sad. Listen to me. I promised I wouldn’t abandon you forever. I love you with unfailing, everlasting love. You are so precious to me”.
If you’re struggling, these are God’s tender words of compassion to you right now. Turning to Him in our pain, in the sadnesses and disappointments, times of abandonment, loneliness, loss and grief, and receiving His unparalleled comfort, His unfailing, everlasting love in our hearts is the best thing we can ever do. For it’s then that our Father God does a most beautiful work in our lives, transforming our suffering and redeeming our pain in ways we could never have thought or imagined, truly giving beauty for ashes.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the personal encouragement we receive as we read the stories of how You responded to the Israelites in their suffering, with such undeserved love and compassion. Thank You that this is Your heart of love for me too. Thank You that Your love is steadfast, it’s unfailing, it’s everlasting. Please help me in the circumstances of my life today to turn to You, to receive Your love and Your comfort, and to allow You to do that beautiful work in my life of transforming this ‘Valley of Trouble’ into a gateway of hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.