I’ve never felt more abandoned by God than when I moved into the city. Throughout my life, I have experienced my fair share of transitions: I lived in five different places before my 10th birthday, spent my teenage years in Southeast Georgia and, after graduating college, lived in Wisconsin, all before settling into Philadelphia.
Of my many moves and adjustments, my transition to Philadelphia presented the greatest challenge. “Big city” culture felt very different from my small-town past, where I regularly interacted with warm, friendly and welcoming locals. By contrast, city life is fast-paced, and the locals take a no-nonsense approach to everyday life. In my first month as a city girl, I found an unkind note written on my car telling me to “learn how to park or get out.”
During this period of my life, I felt so lonely and full of self-pity. Why would God abandon me, leading me to a new job and a new city? Why would he place me among what I perceived to be unfriendly locals? Why couldn’t I have been led to a friendlier, more welcoming culture? I felt like David in Psalm 142:
- Psalm 142:4 (GNTD): When I look beside me, I see that there is no one to help me, no one is to protect me. No one cares for me.
God designed us to be in community, to have friends, to be in relationships from the very beginning. In Genesis 2:18, the writer shares God’s vision for community: “ It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him” (GNTD). There’s no shame in craving and needing that companionship. But I took my need for community too far. As I wrestled with feelings of abandonment, I blamed God—and an entire city—for my loneliness. I should have given my heartache to him:
- 1 Peter 5:7 (GNTD): Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.
After finally giving all my anxiety and loneliness to God, I joined a local church and a small Bible study. I finally found friends and a community. These friends helped me at my lowest point when I couldn’t pay my bills, prayed for me when I was struggling spiritually and became the physical hands of Jesus that I could see and feel in my life. I learned to trust God in the face of abandonment:
- Deuteronomy 3:18 (GNTD):The Lord himself will lead you and be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you, so do not lose courage or be afraid.
- Philippians 4:6-7: Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.
If you feel abandoned by God, and find yourself questioning his provision, turn to Scripture for love, comfort and peace. God’s Word has made a difference in my life—providing hope in periods of darkness—and I hope you experience the same fulfillment, whether you’re adjusting to a new city, searching for a new community or simply seeking to belong.
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