Never Will I Leave You!
Our scripture reading this morning was in Hebrews 13 and as my youngest echoed these words,
Never will I leave you;
Never will I forsake you. ~Hebrews 13:5
I was struck again by the beauty of these words. Every year during Advent, we focus on Emmanuel, God with us. The knowledge that the God of the universe loved humanity so intensely that He would send His only Son to take on human flesh and dwell among us is astounding to me. It never gets old for me.
But this morning, I needed to be reminded that not only did He come THEN, but He comes NOW. His promise was not conditional and it was not meant just for the Shepherds and the Wise Men. It was meant for us too. The timeless God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever looked through history and saw us in our insignificance. And He sent His Son because He loved us.
I’ve experienced loss in my life. Some if it was intentional. Friends have left me and forsaken me. Other times, it was unintentional. Distance and time and life separated us and while those losses make sense, they are still hard for me to bear.
Now I’m watching my children face loss and experience the heartbreak of being forsaken. When you’ve loved and lost, it’s hard not to be fearful and to expect that history will repeat itself. You can feel that at any moment you will lose the friendship that has come to mean so much to you.
I want to tell my children that their friends will never leave them or forsake them, but the truth is that this would be dishonest. They will be left and forsaken. And sometimes they will be do the leaving or forsaking. I wish that I could save them from this. I wish that I could keep them from hurting others through their own immaturity or impetuosity.
But I can’t. And at my best moments, I realize that I shouldn’t try to save them from this. It’s part of their growth and their story. They will learn to love others well only by experiencing the disappointments and the fractures in relationships.
Suffering is part of their story as much as I wish it wasn’t. It has to be. How will they learn to run to Jesus and to fall on their knees before Him if they aren’t able to recognize their need for Him?
And so, these words comfort my soul. When friendships fail around me, when loved ones leave, when I fail and when my children’s sin prevails, my God gently whispers to my heart, I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. There are no conditions to His love.
If you are facing loss of any kind this holiday season, I pray that God’s words to all of us will seep into your soul. His promises offer true hope, inexplicable peace, sustaining joy, and unconditional love.