They pleaded with Samuel, "Pray to the LORD your God for your servants, so we won't die! For we have added to all our sins the evil of requesting a king for ourselves." Samuel replied, "Don't be afraid. Even though you have committed all this evil, don't turn away from following the LORD. Instead, worship the LORD with all your heart. Don't turn away to follow worthless things that can't profit or deliver you; they are worthless. The LORD will not abandon His people, because of His great name and because He has determined to make you His own people. - 1 Samuel 12:19-22 HCSB

God had led the people of Israel out of Egypt, through the wilderness and to a beautiful land of their own. He clothed, fed, watered and protected them. No army was able to withstand them under His leadership. Yet they abandoned Hashem and demanded a human king.

None too gently, Samuel reminded them of their sin in the context of today’s passage and as an illustration of God’s supernatural authority over all things (whether humans yield to it or not), he ruined their harvest with thunder and rain. Yet even then, God had not abandoned them.

Even when we mess up big time, Yahweh is willing and able to forgive us if we confess our sins and repent of them.[1] He temporarily leaves us to teach us what life would be like without Him.

When we feel abandoned and in despair, it is then that we must exercise faith. We are not exercising faith when everything is going our way. We are not exercising faith when we understand all our circumstances and are at peace with them.[2]

Just because we feel abandoned or are suffering doesn’t necessarily mean that God has in fact left us. The people in Hebrews 11 are praised by God as having great faith in the midst of pain, sorrow, poverty and loss[3] and they have left us a phenomenal example to follow.

Sometimes it is the very greatness of God’s plans for us that cause others to become jealous and plot our demise. Didn’t Joseph spend years in slavery and prison? But when humans, even our own family, abandon us, we can trust God’s ability to get us through whatever lies ahead[4] as long as we are following God’s will.

We must spend time in prayer, fasting and meditation to verify that we are not living in rebellious sin, that we are obeying God in everything that we know; and that we are humbly listening for His call. Then, we should trust Hashem’s promise to not abandon us.[5]

Paul also learned this valuable lesson. God will allow tough times, even suffering in our lives. But it doesn’t mean that He has abandoned His children. He will use our circumstances to mold us into useful servants and then lead us safely through all the crises until we finally reach home.[6]

[1] 1 John 1:9

[2] Hebrews 11:1-2

[3] Hebrews 11:35-40

[4] Genesis 37:18-20

[5] Joshua 1:5

[6] 2 Timothy 4:16-18