There are three kinds of ‘abandonment’ experience that we all could go through. Jesus went through them all. First, when friends abandon you. Second when the people you did good to are not there when you are in trouble. Third when you feel God himself has abandoned you.
It is obvious that the twelve disciples Jesus chose became his closest friends. But when Jesus’ crucifixion was plotted, disciple Judas betrayed him to his persecutors for thirty pieces of silver (Mathew 26:15) and Peter denied him three times to the extent of saying “I do not even know who you are talking about” (Luke 22:57). They let him down. Best friends can let us down.
Jesus healed the maimed, stood for the voiceless, forgave sinners and comforted the afflicted and even received a rousing welcome with ‘palms’ (a symbolic of victory) shouting ‘hosanna’ as he entered Jerusalem. He did so much good for so many. But at his trial and condemnation there were crowds shouting “crucify him, crucify him” (Mark 15:13). Where were those which sang ‘hosanna’? We do so much good to others but people can disappear when we are in dire straits.
Jesus, feeling abandoned by God wept in the garden of Getsemene (Matthew 26:36-46)
pleading that God take away his ‘cup of suffering’. He expressed it on the cross saying “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mathew 27:46). We sometimes feel forsaken even by God when suffering engulfs us and our prayers seem not answered.
If Jesus had gone through all these, He knows how you feel when you experience abandonment. God weeps with us. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus wept too (John 11:35), indicating that He shares in our sufferings.
In December 1985 the United States NBC TV News ran a week long feature on its evening news program. The advertising in the lead-up showed a child praying, “Our Father, who art in heaven, what about the earthquake in Mexico City, the Japan Airline crash that killed 520 people, the AIDS epidemic, and the starvation in Africa?” The advertisement finished with this tag line: “Is God punishing us?”
In times of abandonment, when you feel God is punishing you, be reassured that He went through all these and knows what exactly you are going through even when others may not.
Fr Joseph Mundolickal CST