“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close” (Psalm 27:10, NLT).
In the natural order of things, parents love, nurture and protect their children. Sadly, we live in a fallen world, with lots of messed up relationships, abuse, neglect and abandonment. As a result of bad experiences with their dads, some have trouble relating to God as a father, believing he will treat them as badly or be as aloof and unloving.
It can be difficult to get past the baggage your father gave you and learn to trust God and be loved by him. It helps to remember God isn’t like us. He doesn’t have the pride, weaknesses, hang ups and mental issues some human fathers have. He is the perfect father, always loving and kind. He understands our broken hearts and won’t hurt us any further. Even if everyone else rejects and abandons us, he never will. The Holy Spirit, our comforter, will hold us close and reassure us of our real Father’s love.
“So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired” (Romans 1:24a, NLT).
Reading the Bible is easy, right? Except when we read things into it that it doesn’t really say. We have to be careful to remember the context, audience, culture, language, which is constantly changing, and other factors we may not even be aware of. We also have to remember our own culture, context, upbringing, experiences and prejudices, all of which color how we perceive what’s being said. It’s good to keep in mind the famous words of Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride): “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
When we read this verse, we think it means God writes off anyone who commits a sin. That’s it, I’ve had it with you, out of my sight, you filthy rotten scoundrel. Or words to that effect. But God is not like us and verses like this are not an excuse to judge, belittle or arrogantly feel superior to anyone. We have all sinned. Christ died for everyone. No one is better than anyone else, because at the foot of the cross we are equal. God doesn’t automatically abandon sinners—if he did, we’ll all be out on the street. He does give us a lot of room to exercise our freedom to do what we want, but he still loves us, still works in our lives and I believe, never gives up on anyone. We don’t know all the answers, but if you believe God is love and believe in his grace and mercy, you must believe he won’t abandon any of his children, but will do anything in his power (and that’s a lot of power!) to bring them home.