In 1990 a blockbuster movie put the world’s most common phobia on the tip of our tongues, “Arachnophobia.” This fear of spiders is right up there with fear of public speaking as the most common fears among Americans. Years ago a counselor opened my eyes to my deepest fear, #23 on the list of top 100 common fears “Athazagoraphobia” or fear of abandonment. I had never even heard of that phobia, let alone thought of it was something I had. (She was right, by the way.) Since it’s among the most common fears, I would have to believe I am not alone in that fear. It comes out in different ways, from being excessively clingy to pushing people away. I can say at the end of life I am not afraid of death as much as the idea of being alone in a nursing home with no one who loves me and has a history with me… to be forsaken by those who were once my closest friends and family. Thinking about that is paralyzing to me.
Jesus Was Abandoned
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” -Matthew 27:46 (ESV)
Jesus Christ’s final words before his death on the cross expressed such dread. To be separated from his Heavenly Father was something that had never happened before- Father, Son and Holy Spirit as 3-in-1 and then divided. The sin of the world, our sin, came upon him all at once and His Father could not look on Him. He was certainly not ashamed of His son for taking our sins upon himself, but He could not look on sin because of His own purity (Habbakuk 1:13.) For this one moment in time Christ experienced horrific spiritual abandonment.
David Was Abandoned
You may also know Jesus’ words on the cross were part of a quote from David in Psalm 22:1-2.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
David lived at a time in history where people only had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for a period of time. It wasn’t permanent until after Pentecost (Acts 2.) When he asked God to not take the Holy Spirit from him (Psalm 51:11) it was because it was possible. He could lose that power, that person of the Trinity.
Glimpses of God
Adam and Eve walked with God, the prophets had a direct line at times to God. Later the crowd that rushed to meet Jesus saw the Messiah fact to face. Yet, this too was only momentary. Christ himself promised that the gift of the Holy Spirit was a better gift than having him stay. Better? That’s hard to imagine than walking and talking with Jesus. Yet his leaving was required for the gift of the Holy Spirit to come down permanently for you and me (John 16:7-8.)
You and I Are Never Abandoned
With the gift of the Holy Spirit inside us we have Him living with us all the time. We are never alone. There is nothing we can do to cause God to be so disappointed in us He would pull the Holy Spirit and leave. That’s grace. That is a promise. You don’t have to work to make the Holy Spirit want to stay with you. He won’t tire of you. God is with you and will never leave. You don’t have to prove yourself by your good works. You don’t have to entertain the Holy Spirit to make him happy. This is not a relationship where God will call it quits. There is never an estrangement or long distance, “Nice knowing you.” You can’t get out of this perfect love!
On the cross Christ was abandoned by God, so you and I would never have to be!
If you struggle with the fear of abandonment I hope this brings encouragement to you today. Feel free to share what’s on your mind in the comments section below.