"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18 (NIV)
My three children are as different as night and day in their personalities. Sometimes I can barely believe that each one has been raised by the same set of parents in the same way. My son is stoic and responsible. My middle daughter is very artistic and motherly to her young cousins. And my third child is a free spirit, the classic baby of the family. This is a position which she loves.
Between the ages of seven and ten months, each of my children invited me into the excruciating world of separation anxiety. It seemed that each one of them picked a twenty-four hour period to turn from an infant who would go to anyone to a sobbing, hysterical bundle of fear who would cling to me for dear life. What made these episodes so distressing to me was that I could never gauge when they were going to happen. The familiar routine of getting both of us dressed, fed, and putting my child in a car seat became something I began to dread knowing what I was going to have to go through at our destination.
It was never my intention to be cruel to my babies. My children needed to be able to be by themselves and realize I would return. But it broke my heart to hear their pitiful screams and loud gasps for breath between sobs as I would stand just out of the line of their vision. The only way I could develop trust in them was to leave them for a short period of time and return when I said I would.
Eventually, the process got much easier. My children grew to understand that I had not abandoned them during our separations. I would always return. I started noticing that the security of that knowledge allowed them to relax from the anxiety that had made them hysterical at first. I would walk back into the room later on to find them happily playing with no sign of tears, although they hugged my neck as if never to let me go. My middle daughter would do a happy dance in my arms, throw her own arms around me, and lay her head down on my shoulder as she squeezed my neck. Then she'd raise her head up, look me in the eyes, grin widely, and do the whole thing over again.
There have been times, my sweet sisters, when I have become hysterical over God's "absence" in my life. I have been so distraught that I have not been able to settle down and find peace. I have chosen to believe I have been abandoned by Him, even though His promise to me is that He will never leave me or forsake me. Slowly, so very slowly, I have gained enough trust in His character to know that I am believing a lie when I feel like He is gone. I am beginning to realize, little by little, that although I may not feel His presence today, He is there. My Jesus has never deserted me. But He has required me to grow in my trust of Him in ways that I do not always like. I realize that separation anxiety is something every child must go through in order to trust her Daddy. My heavenly Father always reveals that He was there all along, even when I could not see Him. And if I feel abandoned today, I will choose to believe the truth: That my Jesus will never leave me or forsake me.
Jesus, thank You that in You is no darkness at all. Thank You that Your intent in a trial I face is always to have me grow in my trust in You. Thank You that You have never left me, even when my eyes have not been able to see You in my situation.