Never Alone: A Celebration of Trust


Is there anything worse than being left behind?

  • Seeing your flight taxi away from the gate JUST as you arrive, huffing and puffing, and sweating after deplaning from your last flight and going all out to make your connection, all for naught.
  • Being the last one picked for teams in PE, as you hope no one notices the hurt you’re masking with a smile or too loud a laugh.
  • Watching your mom pack dishes in newspaper as your dad packs his bags.
  • Watching your mom die.
  • Hearing that the parents you’ve been counting on bringing you to America for the last 2 years aren’t, in fact, coming after all.

I think being left behind, whether physically or emotionally, is one of the hardest, loneliest feelings in the world. In fact, a friend reminded me the other day that Satan often uses isolation and loneliness as a tool to fool us into thinking that we’re unlovable, not worth anyone’s time, and certainly not worthy of God’s attention and love. Of course he does. God says we’re made for Him and for community. God LIVES in perfect community with Jesus and Holy Spirit. God says love Him and love others by living with them and putting up with their (filter, Gretchen) junk. So yeah, it only makes sense that the deceiver would tell us that we’re worthless and should think ourselves lucky if anyone loves us – even a little bit. Have you ever fallen into believing that lie, just for a moment? I know I have. And darn it, even as a grown up, maturing follower of Jesus, I’m tempted to believe that tripe; and have to discipline myself to be in the Word, in prayer, and with a community of other believers, so that I don’t forget the truth.

I have to tell you that leaving our daughters-who-aren’t-really-but-sort-of-still-really-are-our-children in Ghana after our failed adoption was one of the most difficult things my dear husband and I shall ever do. Given my own past experiences with feeling abandoned after my parents’ rancorous split (no blame here; people do the best they can with what they have, and when they know better they do better, but still…my feelings are my feelings), and knowing that these children had already been through so many changes and let downs, and, yes…times of abject abuse and abandonment, my husband and I took very seriously our part in creating a safe space with and for them–a place where they would KNOW that they would never be abandoned again. Well, you know the rest of the story. No, we didn’t leave them in Ghana by our choice, but guess what? I can only imagine that they felt betrayed, lied to and left behind as if we did. And I felt about as worthless as one can feel. I was so tempted to listen to Satan’s tapes of “What Kind of Mother Leaves These Children Behind?” and “Couldn’t You Have Fought Harder?” “If You Really Loved Them…”

There’s a verse that is oft used in Christian adoption circles, and I love it, but I’m just now learning of its full meaning. Jesus says, “I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.” John 14:18 (NLT).

Jesus. Not Gretchen or her husband or anyone else. Jesus.

And how will He come to us and to those precious girls and to anyone else who believes in Him?

He sends his Holy Spirit to live in those who love Him. According to my study Bible, Holy Spirit is described as our Counselor (less as therapist and more as truth teller), our Comforter (think: encourager), and our Advocate (someone who is on our side and for us).

The absolute truth is that those who love Jesus are NEVER alone. We just aren’t. Not only do we have God living in Heaven, who sees us and loves us and is with us. We have Jesus, who came to earth, to reconcile us to God, and who was raised from the dead, showing God’s power over the ultimate separation – death! Furthermore, He is our High Priest, advocating on our behalf to God, the Father, and…Holy Spirit – one third of the actual triune Godhead – was sent by Jesus to make sure we knew that we were, in fact, never alone. Never picked last. Never abandoned.

If ever there was a reason to celebrate, it’s this: God loves his children so much that he made sure we would never be alone. When we watch our plane taxi away from the gate with disappointment in our hearts, he is with us. When we are picked last, not promoted, not hired, we know we’re never last in His eyes. When we say goodbye to relationships on earth, we know that though life here is hard and broken and ugly, it’s also beautiful and raw and exhilarating, and we are comforted by knowing we have relationship with Him forever. We may leave others, but those who love him will never be left behind by Him.

He loves us so. Oh, how he loves us.

I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, bereaved, and helpless];I will come [back] to you. ~ John 14:18 (Amplified Version)

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Gretchen Hanna
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  1. Rebecca Preston on March 17, 2016 at 7:06 AM

    Beautiful, Gretchen!!

    • Gretchen on March 17, 2016 at 9:07 AM

      Thank you, Becky. ❤️

  2. Diane Tarantini on March 17, 2016 at 9:34 AM

    Gretchen!!!! Wow! There is so so so much stuff, good stuff in here. You first had me at “community.” I’ve been thinking on the idea of it, longing for it, for awhile now. Last year was kind of a year of focused solitude for me but now I’m ready for the crowd. Husband and I went to a new home group last night and instantly, I knew: This group is special. I don’t know them, but I love them already. I belong here.

    And then you told your almost-adoption story. Gahhhhh! How devastating! A pastor told me once, “Expectations are everything.” He said it’s better to not have them because when they’re not met? Sadness and woe! You EXPECTED to get those darlings. They expected to get you? I cannot imagine that pain.

    And then you included the Crowder video? No way!!! When our oldest went to Peru, flying alone at 18 for the first time ever, all the way to the Southern Hemisphere, we had to wait 24 hours to hear that she was safe at the school where she would teach sweet wee ones for 3 months. Though I knew she was probably fine, I worried. I did. And then just as I was tearing up for real, Crowder came on the radio: He is jealous for you…. loves like a hurricane. And I knew, as much as I loved her and was really good at taking care of my daughter, how much more The Father? It was Him saying, “You’re baby girl is fine. I’m taking good care of her.”

    So yeah…. you touched me today, Gretchen. This is super:*)

  3. Gretchen on March 17, 2016 at 9:52 AM

    Diane, thank you so much for stopping by to tell me how my post spoke to you. ? I can only imagine having a child on a mission trip that far away… One of my best friends has a daughter who is a missionary in Australia. She often jokes that if she would’ve known that God was going to take her daughter so far away maybe she wouldn’t of trusted him so much with her life. 🙂 Of course she does trust Him, & her daughter is doing magnificent things in the name of Jesus, but man! Hard for a mama’s heart.

    Community is hard for me, because even though I like being with people, there is a huge part of me that doesn’t like being with them–because the problem with people is people. 🙂 But then I must remember that I am a people too. And the only way to make disciples is to actually be one. 🙂 Currently, I’m facilitating a group of young women, & I love it.

  4. Diane on March 17, 2016 at 12:46 PM

    “…though life here is hard and broken and ugly, it’s also beautiful and raw and exhilarating, and we are comforted by knowing we have relationship with Him forever.” I had to wait a few before I could respond because my heart just broke apart in so many pieces for you. Jen has told me of this, and shared your story while you battled the powers that fought against you. I prayed and cried for you then, as I do now. But we are never alone, and somehow that seems to make the pain more palatable, not gone, but somehow easier. Without Him, can you only imagine?

    And the Crowder song…i have worn grooves in it on my iPhone (is that possible to groove an electronic music file?), and I just cry through it as I literally yell the words at myself, cause sometimes I feel like he has left me, us, alone. But then the words…”…if grace were an ocean we’d be drowning…” Oh, how he loves us, indeed. Indeed. Thanks for your vulnerability on this one, girlfriend. It is an honor to walk alongside you. (And I don’t like community all that much either, except when I do. I know you understand my schizo on this!)

    • Gretchen on March 17, 2016 at 1:13 PM

      Thank you, Diane, for your precious words of empathy & encouragement. Ever so grateful to be walking alongside you, as well. Thank you for being my people.

  5. Bev on March 17, 2016 at 3:37 PM

    Anytime this song is sung at worship, the words ‘loves like a hurricane’ get me every single time. Being a gulf coast girl, I lived through several hurricanes where we had to take shelter from that storm, and to know he loves us in that big way…. Your girls, living where they are, and where they are not, I can’t imagine how they must feel, but there’s that hope they had, that they were wanted, that they were prayed for, and even though God didn’t bring it to pass, they can know how desperately you and your husband wanted them. And that’s something. Loved, loved reading these words from your heart.

    • Gretchen on March 17, 2016 at 4:46 PM

      Thank you, Bev. So grateful that the girls know Jesus, too. Gives me such peace about their future. ❤️

  6. Amber on March 18, 2016 at 9:21 AM

    What a precious picture of hope in the middle of loss. Thank you for being so faithful about sharing your journey through the desert- and for pointing out where all those wells are along the way. Xo

    • Gretchen on March 18, 2016 at 9:36 AM

      Thank you, Amber…God sure is big. Even in these and other hard, hard times. I’m learning so well of His grace’s sufficiency at all times.

  7. Mary on March 18, 2016 at 11:40 AM

    Beautiful reminder.
    Moving around in the military is hard, since as soon as you make friends, either they are moving or it’s my turn again. It becomes this chronic aloneness that is gut wrenching and heart wrenching, but Jesus. Jesus never gets lost in a box, misplaced by packers, or moves to the opposite side of the planet like, say, a best friend. The same God is here, in Hawai’i, in Germany, and even in the remote base in Louisiana where no one wants to go and no one wants to leave. He doesn’t change and He wants me to keep after His business. It may look a little different here than it does there, but I needed to remember that I am His here or there, He IS HERE as much as He was where I last felt Him, no matter how distant He feels.
    Thanks, G. xoxo

    • Gretchen on March 18, 2016 at 10:11 PM

      I’m slowly learning that it’s more about knowing rather than feeling. Love your words. Yes, moving is such a vulnerable time, with loss, & newness. Xxxooo

  8. Jen on March 21, 2016 at 10:34 AM

    I so appreciate your transparency and the way you let God use your experiences for others. You are such an inspiration. Lurve you and your heart to pieces. And that song? One of my favorites. The line that always gets me is, “When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory”. Jesus is bigger than all of my afflictions. <3 <3 <3

  9. Gretchen on March 21, 2016 at 10:53 AM

    I think that might be my favorite line, too, Jen. Love you to the moon and back.

  10. andrea paventi on March 22, 2016 at 3:23 PM

    I needed this today. I feel like God is really bringing me to the next level, and yet I feel lost. So much of my safety comes in Jesus, but when I look at my circumstances, I forget. No, I am not alone and orphaned. God loves me. After a really crappy day so far, I mean BAD, I am going to rest in this. Well, rest and jog for a coffee. That works. GRETCHEN!!!!!!! LURVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Gretchen on March 27, 2016 at 2:18 AM

      Lurve you back! Glad these words spoke to you. Sorry you’re having a hard time, my friend. XXXOOO

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