Paul and those with him sailed from Paphos and came to Perga, in Pamphylia. There John Mark left them to return to Jerusalem. They continued their trip from Perga and went to Antioch, a city in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the law of Moses and the writings of the prophets were read, the leaders of the synagogue sent a message to Paul and Barnabas: “Brothers, if you have any message that will encourage the people, please speak.” (Acts 13:13-15)
Being abandoned is traumatic. I felt abandoned by siblings, childhood classmates, and my first husband. Many times I felt that no one cared about me except my mom.
When we’re abandoned therapists tell us we should focus on ourselves. We shouldn’t downplay our pain, we should challenge shame, be compassionate toward ourselves, and stop building a case against ourselves. (everettchristiancounseling.com/fear-of-abandonment/) It is important to understand our behaviors and break cycles that cause us anxiety, but we shouldn’t always focus on ourselves.
When I was young, I didn’t downplay my pain; I always frowned. And I wasn’t ashamed; I was angry, and I shut out the world. It’s natural to be angry when we’re abandoned. Paul was angry when John Mark abandoned him. We find out in Acts 15 that he refused to work with John Mark for a time. But Paul and John Mark worked through their anger because Paul eventually praised John Mark. Usually when someone abandons us, there isn’t a reconciliation, but we can choose to forgive as Paul and John Mark did.
The second thing Paul does after he’s abandoned is to stand up and encourage others. When we encourage others, we have an opportunity to change their lives by inspiring them to do something they might not otherwise do. And helping others makes us feel better about ourselves. God commands us to encourage one another because He knows everyone needs encouragement and it helps us connect with others. We will have more friends and not feel abandoned.
Father, I praise You for the wisdom in Your word. Help me understand my fears that cause negativity and unhealthy cycles, so I can give them to you and live joyously. Remind me to encourage others so they will be inspired to seek You and do Your will. In Christ’s name I pray, amen.