We Are Not Orphans
By Candy Arrington
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18 NIV
May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us or abandon us. 1 Kings 8:57 NIV
Within an eight-month period, my husband's mother and my mother died. Although they both lived into their 90s, eventually their bodies succumbed to illness and infirmity. Our fathers died many years ago, but having the mamas still with us seemed to soften that grief. Now, the full impact of having our parents absent from earth creates renewed sadness and a strange feeling of being orphans. The fact that my husband and I are both only children heightens the sensation.
Cleaning out two houses and sifting through years of accumulated possessions, old letters, and ancient photographs brings pleasant, yet bittersweet memories, along with laughter and tears. There are no siblings with whom to reminisce, divide the possessions, or share the grief. While we have each other, our children, and extended family members, a unique aloneness exists. No one else remains who shares the relationships and memories created within our small family units.
Perhaps Jesus' disciples and followers experienced similar feelings of abandonment as they huddled behind locked doors following His death. They feared what might happen next. Would they be arrested and executed, too? Although Jesus tried to make them understand in the final days of his ministry, they were unprepared and stunned by his absence, left with feelings of grief and uncertainty.
All of us feel abandoned at times. When health issues, job losses, financial crises, and relationship problems overwhelm, it is human to wonder why God doesn't immediately swoop in and fix everything. Feelings of loss and abandonment seem especially keen at Christmastime. As we see others smiling and happily enjoying the season, it feels like we live on the fringes, merely going through the motions. Often holiday sadness is not a result of death, but rather the loss of a relationship, painful childhood memories, or the challenges of difficult relationships or circumstances. Sometimes we forget God is still with us. He hasn't disappeared. The Holy Spirit lives within and promises to comfort and counsel us.
As my husband and I navigate grief and step into a new phase of our lives, we look back across generations and see how the Lord sustained our families through financial hardship, physical ailments, wars, and periods of grief and loss. We are not the first to experience sadness and uncertainty. Just as the Lord guided our parents and their parents, He will lead and protect us. He is a comforter, helper, and friend. Most of all, He is Father. Having been adopted into the family of God, we are not orphans.
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,Father.” Galatians 4:4-6 NIV
Over 2,000 years ago, God sent Jesus to dwell among us and rescue those who were lost, orphaned, and without hope. He was God with skin on. A man who experienced temptation, persecution, pain, and grief, but also joy. He understands us, loves us, and promised never to leave or forsake us. His presence is our blessed hope during this season and throughout the year.
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Candy Arrington's publishing credits include The Lookout, Encounter, Focus on the Family, Clubhouse, The Upper Room, The Writer, and Writer's Digest. She is coauthor of Aftershock: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House Publishers). Candy and her husband, Jim, live in Spartanburg, South Carolina and have two adult children. www.CandyArrington.com
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