The Fear of Abandonment is not Just a Childhood Fear
John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
When I was a kid, on a few occasions, I knew that my parents were angry with one another. Not just for a moment, but for quite a few hours and I recall one occasion when the tension lasted several days. Now, when you are a child, and you sense any inkling that one or both of your parents might just hit the road and leave you behind, well, the thing is pretty doggone devastating. On top of that, you know kids — they tend to put the blame for the thing on themselves. Children have a fear of abandonment.
But they aren’t the only ones. We adults carry this heavy package around with us as well. And it is no empty fear. Most of us have actually experienced the hurt of being abandoned by someone. A parent, a close friend. Some of you have been abandoned by your own children because your abuser fed them a pack of lies about you.
Christians get abandoned. You see it in Scripture:
Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (2 Timothy 4:9-11)
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? (John 6:66-67)
Abandonment is a kind of betrayal, isn’t it? Someone who vowed to love you and forsake all others for you and be with you “til death do us part” leaves you in the dust. The abuser puts his victim through a hellish and unique kind of abandonment so often — a “desertion” that really doesn’t look like a desertion because he is still physically around. But he abandoned his spouse as much as if he had left on a jet plane.
Abuse victims have been abandoned and forsaken. Not only by their abuser, but often by their church, their fellow Christians, their relatives and friends. And if you have felt the pain of all this, you know how traumatizing it is. I mean, it is serious enough to bring on a kind of PTSD. You watch yourself. You try to guard your words. Why? Because you are living in the fear that another blow of the abandonment hammer is going to fall on you any moment. You sit straight up in your bed in the middle of the night in fear because you remembered that you said. . .or did. . .or another person you know said. . .or did. . .and you are scared that another mega-dose of abandonment is about to get injected right into your veins. Most all of you know exactly what I am speaking of here.
So let’s encourage ourselves. The Lord Jesus Christ cannot, will not, will never abandon you. Can’t do it. Won’t do it. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Jesus. Direct quote). You aren’t going to be an orphan. In fact, Christ promises to be “with us always until the end of the age.” Christ is in you, Christian. He is there. He is leading you. He is assuring you of the Father’s love for you (see Romans 8). He is right there telling you, “not that way, go this way. There you go!” And therefore Christ’s people need not live in the fear of abandonment. People? Oh yeah, they will leave us. But not Christ.
And I will add one more thing. There are also people who won’t abandon us. People who are genuine Christians. People who will love us and stand with us no matter what the cost. That is what the church is supposed to be, you know. Oh sure, it seems like such a church doesn’t even exist anymore. But it does. It always has and it always will. Christ always preserves His remnant. We are not alone.
I have had many, many people abandon me over the years as I have served in the Lord’s pastoral ministry. But there are some who haven’t. In fact, they have drawn closer to me and me to them. I trust them. I fully expect that we will be finishing this race and crossing the finish line together.