The Sting of Loneliness
Kids say the darndest things. One of my preschool grandkids got into the car the other day and said, “I’m lonely.” I thought, what in the world does she know about loneliness? Her day is filled with adoring friends and teachers that put smiley faces on her sticker chart. I later found out her definition of loneliness is when she wants a friend to come over to play and they can’t.
If the truth be known, many of us DO know the meaning of loneliness, and it’s not just lacking a spouse in the house. Loneliness comes in many forms: loneliness in feeling disconnected from others, loneliness in not being noticed, loneliness in not feeling valued, loneliness in not understanding why, loneliness in feeling invisible, loneliness in wrestling with depression, loneliness in juggling all the balls of motherhood in order to keep life afloat.
But we’re not the only ones who could be a poster child for loneliness. Take these biblical characters, for example. Moses was a leader. After forty years of wilderness wanderings, God didn’t allow him to enter into the Promise Land with millions of people. How do you think Moses coped the night after the massive evacuation? And don’t forget Eve, the first woman. In the cool of the day, she walked in perfect fellowship with God. But when she introduced sin into the world, God removed His presence. How do you think Eve reacted the second His Spirit departed? Loneliness. It’s been around since creation began, and as humans we’ve all experienced its bite at one time or another.
I recall a time when a cousin of loneliness stung me. I was attending a wedding. My first husband and I were separated, but I was still in hopes we would get back together. His mother was getting remarried, so I joined the celebration. However, when it was time for the family picture, I didn’t know if I should get in it or not. What if we got back together and in years to come I wasn’t in the photograph? So I mustered up enough courage, walked onto that stage, and guess what? Someone told me to sit down. I felt another kind of loneliness: loneliness in feeling like you don’t belong.
Yet, these loneliness scenarios are not without a rescuer at hand! Jesus understands its pain. He’s the champion of champions who endured the ultimate test of remoteness by being alienated from His Father on the cross, carrying every color of discomfort possible. For all time He overcame the ruinous effects of loneliness so that it could no longer torture us. Through Christ there’s blessed relief for our agony.
Friend, what is it you need this moment? Emotional ease because Valentine’s Day is approaching? Gusty courage because raising the kids is all up to you? Divine stamina because your fortitude has given way? I treasure the image that comes to mind in 2 Timothy 4:16-17: All deserted me…but the Lord stood with me and strengthened me. I love that “strengthened” part.