When You Feel Abandoned
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you discover Christ's majesty!
I, John, . . . was on the island . . . called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
-Revelation 1:9, emphasis added
John felt alone when he was exiled to Patmos, but Christ became nearer to him then than he had ever experienced before. The more of Christ's majesty that we too experience, the nearer He will become to us so that we can walk securely in hope at the end of days.
John was not the first of God's servants to feel alone and in need of Christ's majestic presence. Three thousand years ago, another of God's faithful servants had that same hope. His name was David, and his life is the single most-recorded life (over 140 chapters) in God's Word. As we look at David's life, we will discover how to find living hope for anything we may face ourselves.
Everything was going so well for David for a long time: after defeating Goliath, he became worship leader for the king, a great warrior, a member of the king's cabinet, and the king's son-in-law. But then everything fell apart.
In the lives of believers, there can come a point so low that we actually feel that everyone, even God, has abandoned us. That is how David felt in Psalms 13. In Psalm 13 we see that Christ cannot be our refuge if we do not hear His invitation to flee to Him, or if we do not even remember He is there. Sometimes we have to hit bottom, go through dark waters, or face incredible convulsions in our lives to see Him, even though He's been with us all the time.
I learned that lesson well at 27,000 feet. While flying home from a Shepherds Conference in Los Angeles, I received an insight I will never forget. Having flown enough to have heard the pre-flight safety lecture dozens of times, I usually read and ignore it all, never thinking about anything other than what I need to do before we land.
This particular flight was uneventful. I had an empty seat beside me that became my desk, and as the world slowly drifted by outside my window, I worked. After a bit, clouds began to darken the sky, and I had to turn on the light to see, but I kept on studying.
Suddenly a reminder to fasten seatbelts caught my attention. I began to listen intently when the plane did its first roller-coaster move. Soon we were dropping, and then we were going straight up like an elevator. After that, a very hard jolt knocked open a few overhead compartments and things fell out. Throughout the plane, there were some scattered cries of fear.
From that moment on, all I thought about was this: Who exactly is up front flying this plane? How much experience does he have? How skilled is he in thunderstorm management?
What tremendous lesson did I learn about flying? That we don't pay much attention if all goes smoothly. After all, who gives the pilot a thought unless the weather gets rough? But when the world around us jolts, jumps, rocks, and swerves unexpectedly, all we can think about then is this: Who is steering this careening machine? We are forced to realize how important the pilot really is, and that our lives are in his hands.
The same is true in our spiritual lives: the fewer bumps, the more we ignore the pilot, our Lord. The smoother the ride, the more we forget the One whose hands hold our lives. But let the rough family times come, the roller-coaster ride of our emotions, the crash of our finances, or the sudden plummet of our health, and then we think about the pilot.
David experienced many a bumpy ride in his lifetime, and at times even became fearful, but consistently he chose to put his trust in the pilot of his life. As we continue to focus on how to find living hope for the end of days, we can learn a lot from how David handled his tribulation periods, especially during times of great loneliness.
After the Lord rescued him from Gath (1 Samuel 21:10-15), David fled to the wilderness and lived in a cave. (Compare 1 Samuel 22:1-5 with Psalms 57 and Psalms 142) During his cave time, David went through a period of feeling abandoned by God. But in that dark hour he found hope. How did he do that? Troubles, trials, tests, and temptations always pushed David toward the Lord. God was his choice; God was his habit; God was his desire because David supremely loved the Lord with all his heart. Those dark times simply exposed the reality, deep down in his soul, that David had entrusted his life to the Lord.
Throughout the Psalms, David made confessions about the Pilot who was flying his plane during the turbulent and stormy skies of his life. As you go through this week, I pray that you will discover, like David, that even if you happen to feel abandoned right now-God is still there flying you safely through!
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