Author's Note: This post has to do with some pretty deep hurts in my life. I talk about people who have left me over the years. If you are reading this, and the Spirit brings to mind that you might be one of those people, please rest assured that I forgive you, and that more importantly Jesus forgives you. And would you forgive me if I have sinned in any way that I have missed?
The first time I encountered Christian community, I was baffled by how sweet it was. People loved me because they loved me. People wanted to get to know me. They didn't care how weird I was or how much I annoyed them. They just wanted me to be there. When I finally became a Christian, one of the thoughts I had was, “I have the best friends ever, and nothing will ever break us apart.”
Fast forward about a dozen years, and the illusion is shattered. While I keep in touch with some of the people from that first group of friends, some of us don't talk much. Others don't like the ministry I work with. Others I don't talk with at all. And it seems that's been the case wherever I've gone. I meet people who genuinely love Jesus, or want to engage Him and seek Him. And I make some great friends. And I lose some along the way.
This isn't a knock on those friends. This isn't a hit piece. Rather, it's insight into a wounded and hurt soul, trying to wrestle with the emotions and understand. You see, my greatest struggle is being abandoned. It's been a theme in my life, one that is often a faulty core belief. It's tied into a line of thinking that goes like this:
“Why do people keep leaving me? Have I done something wrong? Is there something fundamentally wrong with who I am? With what I've aligned myself with? There must be something wrong if everyone keeps leaving. I must be unworthy. Who could love me? How could God love me? He also probably looks at me and is ready to walk out too.”
The people in the Roman church once struggled with similar feelings. In Paul's letter to the Roman Church, he asks them a thought-provoking question: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
He follows it up with another question: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” After that, he lists about every fear possible. Every enemy, condition, or circumstance that could get in the way of Christ's love, followed by a quote from Psalm 44 which says:
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
If you look further into the psalm he quotes, you see more insight into the attitude of the psalmist.
“You have rejected us and disgraced us...”
“You have made us the taunt of our neighbors...”
“You have broken us in the place of jackels and covered us with the shadow of death.”
“Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!”
Do you see what's happening? Paul quotes this psalm to a church who has a similar story to mine, and a similar story to the psalmist.
“Why are we suffering? Why are we experiencing conflict? Hatred? Famine? Persecution? Execution? Have you abandoned us? Are we just sheep being led to slaughter?!”
NO! In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. And he finishes by saying no power, no entity, nothing on earth or in the heavens can separate us from Christ if we have placed our faith in Him. This is incredible. Do you see how this intersects with my story?
“Why is everyone walking out on me? God are you going to walk ou...”
“NO! JESUS DIED ON YOUR BEHALF! I'm not going anywhere! You are my son, you will never be separated from me, and because of this you are more than a conqueror! And there is nothing that will change that!”
So, Christian. Are we lambs being led to slaughter? Maybe in this life. Maybe we have a life of sorrows. Maybe we experience friends leaving after friends leaving. Maybe we experience legitimate persecution. Maybe we experience extreme loss, or extreme shame. But that is never evidence that God has left us. Jesus is proof of this. So hold claim to the author of our faith, and the giver of Life.