Have you ever been abandoned by your husband or wife, or a good friend? By this I mean: have they left you for someone else? Have you ever been publicly denounced by someone you thought was on your side? Do you feel as if no-one cares for you?
I’m sure there is nothing more devastating than feeling abandoned, forgotten, unappreciated, unaccepted, unwanted. Psychologists say our earliest and most profound human need is for acceptance and affirmation. We can be warm, dry, well fed—and without the affirmation of human contact, physical contact, we wither and die. Our earliest and most profound fear is of rejection and abandonment.
I’m sorry to say, but sometime during your life, you will feel abandoned by a loved one. You will also experience feelings that accompany abandonment such as feelings of disappointment, discouragement, or being down in the dumps, sadness. Those feelings may become more intense feelings such as anger and even rage. There are couples who have been married for 50-plus years and one of them dies. The remaining partner often feels abandoned: Why did you leave me to face the end of my life all alone without you? Death often causes people to feel abandonment—so can divorce.
I want to say that sometime during our lives, we all feel abandoned by God. This happens in life, especially when tragedies happen to you personally. Let me give you some examples. From the Old Testament, King David wrote the famous words in Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1 – NIV) Words from King David. His words continue: “Why are you so far from saving me Lord? Why are you so far from my groaning? Why do I cry out to you, but you do not answer?”
King David had these feelings in his heart that God had forsaken him, abandoned him, deserted him. Why? Because of the personal tragedies of his life. King David felt this way because King Saul was trying to kill him, his enemies were trying to kill him, his oldest son was trying to kill him, his family didn’t turn out very well. David was feeling down in the dumps and he wrote: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Then there was Job in the Old Testament as well. Job experienced many personal tragedies. He lost his farms, lost the animals, lost his children, lost his wife. Job lost everything. And he felt that God had abandoned him, deserted him, and Job was angry with God and even raged at God. Those feelings were all normal. King David and Job felt that God had deserted them.
It is not only people in the Old Testament who feel that God has abandoned them. Many contemporary people also feel that God has abandoned them. For example, young Elie Wiesel experienced the silence of God when his family was burned in a German concentration camp and he felt all alone in the world and forsaken by God. He later won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. And in September 2001, we will not forget the terrible terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York.
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As the second plane crashed into the tower, thousands of people were looking up and shouting, My God, my God, what is happening? Where are you? What is going on here? In an enormous, horrific tragedy, people felt abandonment, desertion and being forsaken by God. They were overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, confusion, anger and rage at what they saw.
(Read Feeling Abandoned – Part 2)