Over the course of working with people for several decades, I have seen the deep pain that comes from being neglected in relationships, being abandoned by those who should have been there for them, or being forsaken by loved ones.
Mother Teresa once remarked, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, the feeling of being unloved.”
Norman Cousins adds, “The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness.”
Some years ago, the 1986 National Teacher of the Year, Guy Doud, shared, “What shocked me most, as I read their papers, was that so many of the students wrote about being lonely. I thought peer pressure and drugs were the most significant problems, but the student who wrote, ‘I feel so alone, like there is no one I can talk to’ voiced the sentiments of a majority of students in my class.” Though his words were written 30 years ago, the depth of loneliness has not changed for students or for those who have grown up.
Augusten Burroughs, in his book, Dry, expresses the pain quite personally: “Why am I so anxious? And then it hits me. I’m not anxious; I’m lonely. And I’m lonely in some horribly deep way. And for a flash of an instant, I can see just how lonely, and how deep this feeling runs. And it scares the *#+@ out of me to be so lonely because it seems catastrophic—seeing the car just as it hits you.”
I think all of us have felt the pain of loneliness. All of us know how deeply it hurts to be neglected, abandoned or forsaken.
Perhaps this is why the last thing Jesus said to His disciples before ascending to heaven was a promise never to leave them. In Matthew 28:20, He says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is the promise of God’s constant, abiding presence with us, through all the ins and outs, and ups and downs of life!
The apostle Paul reiterates this promise in the face of various struggles we may face. He says (in Romans 8:38-39), “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!”
Nothing conceivable or inconceivable can separate us from God and His love; He will never leave us or forsake us. He will be with us always—even to the very end of the age!
Consider the heart of God that lies behind this promise: Shortly before making this promise, Jesus had given His very life so that we could be adopted into God’s family. That’s how much He loves us!
After going to the extreme of death to bring us into relationship with God, He will never leave us. Jesus will never leave one He gave His life to redeem! We can count on that.