Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Jeannette Haley

She is known as Missy, and her story went nationwide this past August when Missy was cruelly abandoned in a helpless situation, and left to die all alone without food or water. Wounded and crippled from the rigors of the treacherous climb up Colorado’s 14,060’ Mount Bierstadt, Missy found herself stranded on an exposed rocky ledge at about 13,000 feet. Abandoned by the only man she knew and loved, she had to know that the situation was grim. Her bloody feet were too lacerated and raw to allow her to explore the possibilities of an escape route off of the ledge, while her body rapidly grew weaker from dehydration and starvation. As each day came and went, Missy longed for someone to come and save her. By the time a week had passed, it appeared as if all hope was lost. She had indeed been abandoned, and it appeared as if death would be her only escape from the awful misery she suffered.

Then, suddenly, unexpectedly, Missy heard excited voices and the sound of approaching footsteps. Too weak to respond, she waited in anticipation that somehow, some way, someone had finally seen her. The “Good Samaritans” were soon at her side, administering what first aid they could, and sharing their water with her. Missy’s heart rejoiced in the kindness of these strangers. But, her relief soon turned to anxiety when they turned to leave without her because they were unprepared to carry her down the steep, rocky mountain. She couldn’t help but feel as if she had been abandoned, again.

Miraculously she made it through the night; however, as if to add to her pain and desolation, a major snow storm descended on the lonely mountain. She instinctively knew that it would be only a short matter of time before her battered body gave way to death. Born to love, abandoned to die. Such is the lot of millions of one of God’s most noble and faithful creatures—the dog.

Perhaps you know the rest of the story, at least to a point. The couple who initially discovered the German Shepherd sent out a plea for help. The response was overwhelming in spite of the difficulties of the task. The next day eight rescuers struggled through the storm for nine hours to reach the abandoned dog. In spite of the challenges they encountered, they found her still alive and re-bandaged her bleeding paws, comfortably secured her in a backpack, and brought her off the mountain. The veterinarian who took care of Missy said, “The miracle dog of the century, and although she was severely dehydrated she has, miraculously, no long-term or permanent damage.”

It would be wonderful if Missy’s story ended with the assurance that the young couple who initially found her, formed the rescue party to save her, and who want to keep her were allowed to do so. But, such may not be the case, for once the 29-year-old man who abandoned her heard that his dog had been saved, he declared that he wants her back. Thus, the outcome of Missy’s fate will be decided at a later date in a court of law. One can only wonder how such a person has the nerve to show his face in public, but then, we live in a time when it appears that the “tares” greatly outnumber the “wheat” in every area (See Matthew 13:30, 38-42.) Tares and fools know no shame, having a seared conscience. (1 Timothy 4:2b).

While pondering the story of Missy, I found it easy to draw parallels between the story of her abandonment and the terrible plight and end of those who are slaves to the master of sin and Satan. Satan is a deceptive, powerful, and cruel master indeed. Years ago we knew a certain man who despised God and His Word. With the devil as his master, he was supernaturally given great ideas in the business world with resulting great success. However, every time he would reach the pinnacle of success, suddenly the rug would be pulled out from under him and he would end up on the bottom. This process repeated itself over and over again. The lesson we learned by observing his life was that if you make a deal with the devil, he may give you the ability to “gain the world” for a season, but in the end, he will mockingly destroy all you have worked for, and your own soul as well. This man, who had many demons, was only in his middle years when unexpectedly and suddenly he died with no time to repent.

On the other hand, the miraculous rescue of Missy is a powerful reminder of the love, mercy and grace of God who sent His Son as the Rescuer of mankind. Jesus said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” Luke 19:10.

Abandonment can take many forms—some more extreme than others, but all abandonment is devastating to those who experience it. Besides literal physical abandonment, which happens all too often to the most vulnerable among us such as children, the elderly, the physically and mentally challenged, there is also mental and emotional abandonment. How many people with wounded spirits and broken hearts appear as if they live in a “normal” family or in a “normal” marriage relationship, yet in their heart of hearts they suffer the pangs of excruciating loneliness, feelings of unworthiness, shame and guilt? Such people may not be physically left to die on a lonely mountain, but they find themselves drowning in a sea of depression due to events and situations that have left them feeling emotionally forsaken.

Whatever situation we may find ourselves in, we can always turn to the Bible for examples of others, including our Lord Himself, who have experienced and suffered in like manner. One ancient and powerful example is Joseph. When he was but a sensitive seventeen-year-old, he was literally hated by his older brothers because of their jealousy. Can you imagine the shock and horror young Joseph experienced as his brothers stripped him of his special coat, threw him into a dry pit in the desert, and then sat down to nonchalantly eat their lunch? With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Joseph knew that his life was in the hands of his cruel brothers. None offered him food or water, and none consoled him as his mind reeled from their utter rejection and insidious actions.

However, God had other plans that none of the brothers could even begin to foresee. Likewise, how could Joseph possibly understand that the Lord was in control of his situation, and that years later this evil would be turned to good? Even the band of Ishmeelite traders who “just happened” to pass their way at that moment were God’s instruments to carry Joseph to his God-ordained destination. The Midianite merchantmen who also passed by at that time, and who pulled Joseph from the pit were ordained by God. But, all that Joseph could feel at that time was total rejection and feelings of crushing abandonment by his own family.     We, who have the advantage of looking back through history, know that through it all, God was with Joseph—even when he was falsely accused in Egypt by his master’s wife and cast into prison. We know that Joseph, in spite of everything he suffered, was a true man of faith, and an overcomer in this world. Years later when Joseph finally revealed his identity to his fearful brothers in Egypt, he tearfully told them, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life….And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt” Genesis 45:5, 7, 8.

Another famous Bible character who suffered a different type of abandonment was David. After slaying Goliath and helping to defeat the Philistines, King Saul, instead of rejoicing in David, became insanely jealous. In1 Samuel 18:9-12 says, “And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice. And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.”

Many Bible scholars have concluded that David and his men were pursued by Saul for about fourteen years. Many of the beloved Psalms that David wrote were written during this time, and reflect the deep array of emotions that David experienced including faintheartedness (Psalm 27:13, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living”); feeling abandoned, (Psalm 31:12, “I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel”); despair, (Psalm 40:12, “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me”); loneliness, (Psalm 102:7, “I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top”), and the one perhaps many can relate to at some time in their life, “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul” Psalm 142:4.However, regardless of how many times David experienced feelings of abandonment he always looked to the Lord for deliverance, and exalted Him in praise and worship.

If anyone ever felt totally and completely abandoned it is Job. In the midst of his terrible suffering and pain, he said to his “friends,” “…miserable comforters are ye all” Job 16:2b. Yet through it all, Job proclaimed one of the greatest statements of faith in the Word of God. He said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him” Job 13:15, 16. [Emphasis added.] Out of the midst of his incredible suffering he also boldly declared, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another: though my reins be consumed within me” Job 19:25-27.

Finally, the greatest example of abandonment and rejection can be found in the life of our Lord. To me, two of the most tragic verses in Scripture are John 1:10, 11, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”  Who else has ever been as rejected as our Lord and Savior “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” Philippians 2:6-8. As Creator, He was ignored by His creation. As the promised Messiah to the Jews, He was rejected by them.

Jesus knew that many of those who followed Him did not truly believe Him. John 7:64-66 records Jesus’ words, “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” The next verse nearly takes your breath away as the impact of Jesus’ pathos that He expressed to the twelve penetrates your heart, “Will ye also go away?” (Verse 67b.) Matthew 26:56b records these sad words,“Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.”  Isaiah 53:3, 4, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Finally, how can we ever forget His cry on the cross as he lifted up His voice and said, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Who among us has felt the sting of abandonment more than our Lord, who deserves above all others to be received, and worshipped?

In the troubled times to come, we may see things we never thought we would see. We may experience things we never thought we would experience. Jesus warned that the “time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God a service” John 16:2b. He warned, “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” Matthew 10:36. Regardless of how rejected, abandoned or lonely you may feel, remember that Jesus promised,“I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” Matthew 28:20b; “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” Matthew 24:13.

If you feel abandoned by family, friends, or even God Himself, ponder the examples in Scripture of those who overcame, such as Joseph who remained pure and faithful, harboring no feelings of unforgiveness or animosity towards his brethren. Remember King David who mourned the death of his enemy, King Saul, and who trusted the Lord and believed His promises all his life. Remember Job who, in spite of incredible suffering and without benefit of the written Word that we have today, remained confident that God was Who He is. Finally, consider the Lord Jesus Christ who prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” and who said to John, “…I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” Revelation 21:6, 7.

No matter how lonely or abandoned you may feel right now, if you belong to Jesus, you have this promise,

May our great God who mercifully saved Missy the abandoned dog, cause your heart to rejoice through your many trials and tribulations, knowing that if His eye is on the sparrow, He surely watches over you.