Matt 27:46-48 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"- which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
As we prepare our hearts to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus once again, I have often thought about these last words Jesus spoke before he died. It is so poignant! We have all felt the great weight of abandonment at some point in our lives. Perhaps a good friend parted ways with us, perhaps a spouse who left for another. Perhaps one of those closest to you has died. We feel abandoned, forsaken.
I think sometimes the most excruciating feelings of abandonment occur when we are young. Did any of you suffer from a broken heart as a teenager? I can remember all the wide range of emotions that occurred for me in those young years of little experience: we might feel rejection, a wounded heart, sorrow, betrayal, and then depression. Or, we might feel anger, resentment, jealousy, revenge, bitterness. Or, we might feel alone, confused, a loss of sense of purpose, unable to move on.
There are so many feelings associated with the loss of a loved one, and the ways we respond may go from becoming crippled to rebounding with renewed strength.
We think of our girls at Casa. All of them, every one, has had to deal with abandonment when they were young and inexperienced, when nothing made sense, when they found themselves literally torn away from their parent or parents, perhaps from siblings, and they suddenly found themselves in a strange new environment, a “warehouse” for kids, a place where they were cared for physically, but it certainly wasn’t the same as having mom around. There was no one to give them advice about all of the issues going on in their lives, except other kids, or maybe the internet. There was no trust—the one they had trusted the most was gone. And, frankly the one they had trusted the most was probably making terrible life choices that they were learning as a child. What a mess!
Jesus went to the cross willingly (Jn. 10:15-17). He was both fully man and God at the same time. (Ph’p 2:5-8) yet, He, unlike us, was without sin throughout his life (Heb. 4:15). He hurt like us, he felt like us, he experienced all of the things we experience. And here, at the end of his life, he experienced abandonment by the one who was dearest to him of all—he felt abandoned by God.
Why? Had God abandoned him? He was on the verge of death. God allowed him to die. He was carrying our sins on his shoulders, making atonement for our sins, creating a path for forgiveness for us, making a path for us to restore relationship with God. But the weight he carried was the weight of abandonment. He felt forsaken. Was it because he was carrying all of that sin and God had to separate from all of that? Or was it because he thought that somehow God would restore him without going through death? Whatever the reason, it is what Jesus felt at that point.
And he wasn’t the only one who felt abandoned! His disciples had given up 3 years of their lives to follow this man! They had watched the miracles, the compassion, the love, the hope that he brought to people’s lives. And now he was crucified on a cross and he died! With his death, all hope was gone. Faith was destroyed. There was nothing but fear, hopelessness, and pain to replace it.
But wait! Jesus had stated that they would see the sign of Jonah—Matt 12:28-41. Was there hope? Thank God, that was not the end of the story! From total hopelessness the sign of Jonah was fulfilled, and after 3 days, Jesus came back from the dead! They instantly went from Abandonment to faith, hope, joy, excitement, purpose.
Are you feeling the effects of abandonment? Please pray with us for our girls at Casa. They have all suffered the powerful effects of abandonment. Our goal is to help them focus their sight on Jesus, the one who can restore beyond all that we can hope or imagine! Perhaps as you pray for them, you will also see God restoring you, building your faith, filling you with a new sense of purpose and wisdom to accomplish what He sets before you.
Deut 31:7-8 Be strong and courageous, . . . The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
It is hard to believe that we are already winding down the school year and looking forward to summer activities and a new group of students in Alas. We will be taking pictures this month of students for the 2019-2020 school year. We have 70 returning students and 30 new students. We will be sending out pictures to current sponsors next month. It is always sad to see students who choose not to continue in the program, but there are always a few. Our standards are high and we expect the students to maintain a grade of at least 7 in school and participate in a local church. If your student is one of those who is not continuing we hope you will consider continuing supporting Alas with a new student.