You Can Trust God When You’re Abandoned

For many years, I woke up in the night paralyzed by fear. I dreaded deep sleep. That’s where my nightmares lived. 

I didn’t dream of monsters. I wasn’t afraid of the dark. My worst nightmare was being utterly alone. I was terrified of abandonment.

After one such sleepless night, I met with my friend Dannah. In-between yawns, I explained that the reason I was so tired was my struggle with frequent and persistent nighttime panic attacks. She could have brushed me off. (Who doesn’t have a bad dream now and then?) She could have thrown a soundbite my way. (“Just pray more.”) She could have justified this pattern as “normal.” (Everybody struggles, right?) 

But she didn’t . . .

She wouldn’t settle for me living in fear—she wanted me to live free. 

That moment was the beginning of my liberation from panic and fear of abandonment. Now, years later, I can tell you for certain that you can trust God when you’ve been abandoned. 

Your Love . . . Never Runs Out on Me

Perhaps you’ve heard the song, “One Thing Remains.” 

The chorus goes . . .

Your love never fails, and never gives up,
It never runs out on me. 
Your love never fails, and never gives up,
It never runs out on me.
Your love never fails, and never gives up,
It never runs out on me.

Some people might think of a love that “runs out on me” like running out of milk, a love that simply dries up. But some of us know a more painful reality. Someone we loved ran out on us. Out the door . . . and out of our lives. 

For me, that was my father when I was ten years old. For you it might be the husband you vowed to stay with forever, a child you don’t want to be separated from, or a friend who abandoned ship. 

God is a God of reconciliation, but because we are broken people traversing a broken planet, some relationships go unrestored. Sometimes prodigals don’t come home. Sometimes our hearts remain broken for decades. What then? Where can we turn when the sting of abandonment keeps stinging? These three truths that have been a life raft in my life. 

1. Fractured human relationships reveal our deep need for Jesus. 

As image bearers of God, we have the privilege (and challenge) of using our lives to showcase the character of God. Our human relationships are shadow boxes, meant to tell the story of a greater reality. 

Human fathers have the power to teach us about the devotion and protection of our heavenly Father. Husbands are meant to showcase the covenant love of Christ. Our earthly friendships can tell a story of the fellowship that is available to us through Christ. 

But sometimes the picture gets fractured. When human relationships fail us, we can transfer the distorted image to our relationship with God, or we can recognize our deep need for something more. 

When our earthly father is distant, cold, absent, or abusive, we can hold on to this Truth . . . . 

[M]y father and mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in (Ps. 27:10). 

When our husband breaks his vows, we can find comfort in knowing . . .

[Y]our Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called (Isa. 54:5).

When friends detach themselves, we can rest, knowing . . .

The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant (Ps. 25:14).

Human heartache is a reminder that we are wired for something more than our relationships. In my own life, nothing has revealed my need for Jesus more or kept me tethered to Him more closely. Like pearls resulting from irritation in the shell of an oyster, hurts have become beautiful gifts that have pointed my toward my Savior. 

2. God’s Word calls us to a zero bitterness policy. 

I’ve been walking around with shrapnel in my heart from my father’s sin for more than twenty years now. Every time the hurt bubbles up again, I have a choice—let the wounds fester or forgive. 

Scripture is clear that bitterness does not belong in the hearts of Christ’s followers. It’s a “bitter root” (Heb. 12:15) that poisons hearts and homes. Hurts can compound and multiply, impacting generations if we allow bitterness to take root. 

If you’ve been abandoned you may find it easy to justify anger toward God and others, but God’s Word gives us no such permission slip. 

Job knew a thing or two about abandonment. His children and livestock left him through death. His wife withdrew her emotional support in her grief. And his friends . . . oy, his friends . . . they stuck with him but abandoned the truth. 

“All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me,” Job wailed (Job 19:19). 

And yet, God commanded Job to pray for his friends. Job’s restoration began when Job followed this command. 

And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before (Job. 42:10, emphasis added).

What do we offer in return for the pain of abandonment? Forgiveness and prayer, two gifts we don’t have the power to give without the help of the Holy Spirit. Trust your betrayer to Jesus. There is no safer place for them to be. 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:43–45). 

Does the idea of forgiving the one that hurt you seem impossible? Pray to want to. It’s remarkable what God can do with a heart willing to want to obey. 

 3. There is a hope we can trust. 

Every person in our lives is marked with sin nature and therefore, capable of failing us. Hope placed in our fellow image bearers will always be misplaced, but there is a bedrock hope we can build our lives upon. There is a safe place to put our hope. 

Listen to Paul’s words found in Romans 5:1–5 (emphasis added).

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

If your hope has failed you, it is misplaced hope. Hope in Jesus will never, ever, ever put us to shame. 

I’ve heard it said that in a storm, any harbor will do. When our human relationships lead to heartache, we’re tempted to find shelter anywhere that will make the hurting stop. The writer of Hebrews warns us not to search for other harbors, but instead, to anchor our lives to the steadfastness of God. 

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

When your heart is broken . . .
When your friends fail you . . .
When love runs out on you . . .

We can rejoice, and respond in worship to our Savior who delivers this powerful promise. 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).

PS: Hear more of my journey to overcome fear of abandonment on the Revive Our Hearts podcast. Listen here

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager … read more …

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