"I will never leave you or forsake you"

Photo by Bennett Tobias
Photo by Bennett Tobias

Let your conversation [conduct] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Heb. 13:5-6

A Christian may sometimes feel, as David did, that God has forsaken him (cf. Ps. 22:1). However, feelings do not define reality for the Christian. For on the cross Jesus endured God's wrath so that those who belong to him by faith will be saved from the wrath to come. God is for them and cannot be against them (Rom. 8:31). As a result, he says to his children, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." It is the promise our Lord left his church on the eve of his ascension: "And, lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world" (Mt. 28:20).

Is there any greater promise than this? The promise is not just that God is present, but that he will not forsake us. This means that God is always for us no matter what and that he will meet us with all the grace and help and strength that we need at every time and in every place. It means that God never stops doing good to us. It means that God never stops protecting and guiding and keeping us. It means, most importantly of all, that God never stops loving us and never stops faithfully keeping his promises to us. There is no one more unflinchingly loyal than our Father in heaven is to his children.

An older pastor once shared with me a story along these lines which I have never forgotten. He had been a farmer, and as such found himself constantly worried about whether or not he was going to make ends meet. One day while plowing his field, he was letting the Lord know all about his worries. But as he was plowing, he noticed a bird's nest on the ground in the same field where he hadn't yet plowed, and he therefore marked its spot in order that when he got there he would move it so that he didn't plow over it. After moving the nest, he said that it was as if God spoke to him from heaven: "If you care this much for a little bird's nest, do you not think that I care for you and will protect you?" Indeed, our Lord has said that to all of us, hasn't he? "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" (Mt. 6:26).

What should be our response? We should, if we truly believe this, lay aside all fear, especially the fear of man. For neither men nor our circumstances can thwart the loving purposes of a sovereign God toward his children. When God is our helper, who can stand against us? The answer is, of course, no one! Therefore, let us banish all fear and entrust ourselves anew this day into the hands of our loving and wise and omnipotent God: Father, Son, and Spirit.

By: Jeremiah Bass