As a pastor, I have seen divorce tear families apart and I have ached with the abused. I’ve seen close friends commit betrayal or turn their backs on each other. These broken relationships leave many feeling abandoned and alone. So, how can the church compassionately care for the unloved, orphaned, betrayed, and abused?
David models the way forward in Psalm 27, for although his enemies seek to ruin him he will not be afraid. Instead, he turns his face toward heaven to wait for the God who waits for him: “My father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in” (v. 10). Then, as David counsels his hurting soul, he shows us how to minister effectively to others. Here are two truths and a lie for those abandoned by loved ones.
Truth: God Protects You With His Presence (vv. 1–6)
Someone who has been abandoned by their loved ones may often feel that God has left them too. Thus, David begins by confidently declaring, “The LORD is my light and my salvation, . . . the stronghold of my life” (v. 1). As our Light, God offers protection like a campfire in the wilderness or a torch to guide our path (Psalm 18:28). As our Salvation, God delivers us from danger and keeps our foot from stumbling (Psalm 119:165). As our Stronghold, God provides a refuge from the troubling storms of life and the devouring words of men (Psalm 28:8). Our trust then carries forward into Christ: our Light (John 8:12), our Salvation (Psalm 14:6), and our Stronghold (Psalm 16:33). For in God’s Son, all the fullness of the Father was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:15, 19).
David’s singular desire was to worship the Lord and to gaze upon his beauty (Psalm 27:4). So also, the church will gather in God’s presence to seek our best and greatest gift in Christ (Phil. 3:8; 4:4). Like David, we exhort any who feel abandoned to name their fears aloud (Psalm 27:2–3, 11–12). Then, together, we walk toward Christ our radiant Light (v. 1), our Salvation in every song (v. 6), and our Stronghold “high upon a rock” (v. 5).
Truth: God Protects You With His Promises (vv. 7–10)
Hurting friends who feel unwanted or unloved may also lose hope that God’s promises are for their good. Thus, Psalm 27 cries in desperation: “Hide not your favor or your face, O Lord. For even if my family should forsake me, I know that you will not” (vv. 7–10). Whenever we feel abandoned, we find rest in our Father’s loving arms and recount his truths to counsel both ourselves and others through the pain:
- As children, we seek acceptance from earthly parents (vv. 8b, 9, 10b). Yet many faithful saints have been cast out, so God our Father takes us in at any hour (Matthew 11:28–30).
- As children, we seek a sympathetic ear (Psalm 27:7). Yet even loved ones turn away, so God our Father promises to always hear our call (Matthew 7:7).
- As children, we seek guidance to avoid life’s pitfalls and to walk in wisdom (Psalm 27:11). Yet many roads will dead-end in destruction, so God our Father promises “paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).
- As children, we seek goodness in a loving grace-filled home (Psalm 27:13). Yet even family can disappoint us, so God our Father promises that his goodness and mercy will never cease to flow (Psalm 23:6).
- As children, we seek protection by relying upon others (Psalm 27:12, 14). Yet human strength has limitations, so God our Father promises to surely keep us safe (Proverbs 18:10).
In Christ, we come as children before our faithful Father who protects us with his promises. Let us assure ourselves of this before we counsel others.
Lie: There Are Better Paths Than God’s (vv. 11–14)
Believers walk courageously along our Father’s path, yet those who feel abandoned may fall away in times of hardship (Proverbs 4:18–27). Sometimes they believe the lie that there are better paths than God’s. As David’s enemies rise against him, they block his way and breathe out violence for his blood (Psalm 27:11–12). Yet David trusts that God, in sovereign goodness, will deliver him in life (v. 13). Therefore, he urges, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (v. 14). So also, as fears assail us today, we bolster up our bravery like battle-ready soldiers who have chosen God’s righteous path (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Those we counsel might stray from God in their response to suffering, but we can help them find the path again by meditating on the Psalms. We can point them to God who promises loving care for the abandoned (Psalm 27:10a) and to be our “very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Therefore, let us walk with David along the path of life and usher God’s beloved children into the fullness of his joy (Psalm 16:11).
Praying With Those Abandoned By Loved Ones
Psalm 27 is our heart’s response to the God who protects us, who never breaks his promises, and whose path is always perfect. So when we’ve been abandoned by our loved ones, let us pray along with David:
Lord, you are my Light, my Salvation, and the Stronghold of my life (v. 1).
I am confident in you even as I state my fears by name (vv. 2–3).
I long to dwell forever in your presence (vv. 4–6).
I will continually seek your face though others might abandon me (vv. 7–10).
Lead me to your goodness, Lord, past all my deadly enemies (vv. 11–13).
Fill my heart with courage as I wait on you (v. 14).