Abandoned for Our Sake by Steven Furtick
I was talking to someone who grew up largely without a father. His father was abusive to him in his early years, and then the father died. I asked him, “How do you think it affected you to be abandoned by your father?”
He started to share with me how it affected his confidence, how it affected his sense of ability to love other people, how he has all these fears about whether he will be a good dad to his kids. The consequences of fatherlessness for this guy were pretty harsh.
As he went on and on, I was thinking, What kind of father abandons his son?
I’ve got two sons and a daughter, and I can’t imagine abandoning them. When I do have to leave them temporarily, I want to hurry back.
A few years ago I had a memorable experience returning home from a preaching trip. My team and I had taken a small plane that someone in our church let us use.
On the way back, there was a storm in front of us. Because our plane was so small, we had to fly around it. So instead of leaving at 8 p.m. and getting home before midnight, as we’d planned, the trip took around ten hours. We flew all night, stopping five or six times for fuel.
It was unforgettably excruciating. I felt like an eight-year-old when I kept asking the pilot, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
Finally, about 7:30 in the morning, I walked into my house. My son Graham—who was probably five years old at the time—came running up to me for a hug.
Then he asked me a ridiculous question.
“Daddy, how’d you get home so quick?”
Are you kidding me? How did I get home so quick? I’ve been flying all night! But all he knew was that he went to bed, woke up, and here came Daddy through the door. “How’d you get home so quick?”
To me, my absence from home seemed endless. To Graham, it seemed like I was hardly gone at all. It was a matter of perspective.
We need to have the right perspective on our sense of absence from God as well. Perception: God is absent. Reality: he’s right there all along.
Let me repeat that: If you are a child of God, then no matter how abandoned or lonely you may feel, God has been with you and he’s with you right now.
You see, when we come to God, we come through the way that Jesus has already made. We come through the way of the cross. We don’t have to sweat drops of blood in a garden; he’s already sweat those drops for us. We don’t have to feel spikes going through our feet and hands because he’s already endured that pain. And we don’t have to be separated from God either. Not now. Not ever.
Jesus experienced abandonment from his Father so that we never have to. Because he was forsaken, we never have to be.
We come to God in salvation, and it’s almost like we think, That felt too easy. We think we should have to earn it. We feel like we ought to keep some rules. But that’s not the way it works. Jesus took God’s punishment on himself so that we wouldn’t have to. There’s nothing we can add to what he’s done.
You may feel forsaken, but you’re never forsaken. You and I can never truthfully cry what Jesus cried: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Because that same Jesus who was forsaken says to us, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)
Excerpted from SEVEN-MILE MIRACLE: JOURNEY INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD THROUGH THE LAST WORDS OF JESUS. Copyright © 2017 by Steven Furtick. Published by Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Steven Furtick is the bestselling author of six books including Sun Stand Still, Greater, and Seven Mile Miracle, from which this excerpt was taken. He is also the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church, based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He preaches around the world and holds the Master of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Steven and his wife have three children and live near Charlotte. Follow him on social media @StevenFurtick