Years ago on a summer afternoon, my younger brother played in a little league game. None of my siblings or parents remembers how well he played or how the team did. Even so, none of us will ever forget that day.
The game ended and we went home and began eating a late lunch. Soon, a knock at the front door interrupted our meal. My dad answered the door. I remember peeking from behind my dad, curious to see our visitor. It was my brother’s baseball coach. Mr. Sterner had a smirk on his face.
“I don’t think so,” my dad said.
Right at that moment, my brother stepped out from behind his coach, having previously gone unnoticed. My parents, siblings and I were in disbelief and couldn’t help but laugh.
We had gone to my brother’s game, cheered him on and left him at the field! To this day, it still baffles us. How is it that none of us noticed? Whenever the story is brought up during family gatherings, we laugh until we cry. We were home eating subs and potato chips and the youngest in our family was like, “Hey guys, what about me?”
Thankfully, leaving kids at games is a fairly uncommon occurrence. It illustrates the weakness of humanity pretty well, though. We do have the tendency to forget about others or fail to give them the attention they need. Sometimes we’re self-centered. Sometimes it’s just that we’re spread thin and have so many tasks that it’s hard to give to others how we’d like.
Every child of God has struggled with feelings of abandonment by their Heavenly Father. We begin wondering where He is. He was just there watching us play in our game and now we can’t find Him. We’re tempted to believe that He decided that we weren’t worth the trouble anymore or wasn’t able take care of us like He’d originally said that He would.
Like I shared yesterday, David was called a man after God’s own heart. That didn’t make him immune to wondering where God was in times of struggle, though. David doesn’t hold back on his feelings of abandonment by God in Psalm 13:1. Here’s what he says:
“O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way? (NLT)
When it comes to our relationship with God, we’re like a small child who temporarily loses track of his parents in a large grocery store and panics. When the child refocuses, he finds that his parents were there all along. He just didn’t see them for a short moment and needlessly freaked out. Where the analogy breaks down is that our parents, in their weakness, are perfectly capable of losing track of us at times.
As children of God, we have a far greater hope during feelings of abandonment. Notice I used the word “feelings” instead of “reality.” The reality of abandonment is an impossibility with a perfect God. Oh, but we’re all too familiar with imperfection and that’s exactly where we go to fill in the blanks. We’ve lost track of the times that we’ve been let down by others. “God is bound to hurt me like everyone else has, ” we conclude. What we forget is that God is not everyone else–not even close.
Unlike the fleeting seconds of fear for the child in the grocery store, we may have to go through days, weeks and months of these feelings. They are all the more perplexing when things are going badly for us. A large part of our relationship with God in this life is faith.
As Hebrews 11 explains, faith is the assurance of things that we cannot see. This is no easy task since we live in a physical realm. If we can’t taste, touch, feel, see or hear to verify it that makes it very difficult to believe. For the Christian, there is a sixth sense called faith. Without God’s power working through us, it would be impossible to exercise.
Faith involves filling in the blanks of what we can’t see with the full understanding and confidence that God is there and will always be there—that He’ll always take care of us. It’s saying no to the worst-case-scenario thoughts which are where our mind tends to jump first.
Hebrews 13:5b reminds us of the constant and complete care we are under as God’s children. This promise will never be broken.
“I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.”
Keep your chin up. He’s not going anywhere. And very soon your faith will be sight. In eternity, you will always see his face. There will be no more doubt or fear. “Grocery store” moments will not be a concern. His constant presence will drive all of the bad away forever. For all of us, that day is much closer than we can often understand. And that’s a very good thing for every child of God.