Have you ever felt abandoned? Maybe by your friends or even family? Have you felt alone or unloved? I think most people if they are honest have experienced abandonment and it’s probably one of people’s greatest fears. Nobody wants to be alone and left to feel abandoned. As I write this, I am currently helping with the care of two cats, it was four cats but two have found homes. These cats were abandoned in our church parking lot in a crate on a Sunday afternoon (we know this because we saw it on the security camera) and not discovered until Monday. These cats are super sweet, and I am definitely not a cat person. But every morning I’m usually the first thing they see. One of them is super skittish and only lets me pet it after a long time of warming up, but the other usually just plops down at my feet and wants to be petted and loved on. These cats seem like they belonged to someone at some point, but then were just thrown out, abandoned. I can’t imagine being that type of person.
With the holiday season upon us it’s important to remember those who may be feeling abandoned, and unloved. Some of them may even be difficult to love but that shouldn’t matter because we aren’t called to love the loveable, we are called to love and serve everyone, especially those who may need it most. Let’s not forget Matthew 25.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’
What can you do to help ease the pain of someone who may feel abandoned? What would you want someone to do for you if you found yourself in one of these situations? I worked with prison ministry and with adjudicated youth for years. Once I heard a former inmate who was now a pastor give a sermon on what it was like being in prison. Just before he started, he sent one of the young men out of the room. I thought it was so strange at first but then his sermon was so enthralling that I forgot about it. At the end he brought the young man back in and said, “you all forgot about him, didn’t you?” And he was right, we had. And he said, “that’s what it’s like to be in prison”.
This is just cats and I know they had to have felt the pain and loss of abandonment, how much worse it is when it’s a person. I do have one really good piece of news though. There is someone who will never abandon us and we can be reminded of it in Deuteronomy 31.
8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”