I remember a time when I could be in a room with many people and yet I felt alone. Somehow even within a community I felt isolated, an outcast, empty, even forsaken. What I was longing for was for someone who understood me, someone I could be myself without regret or compromise. Worse, it appeared everyone else had that kind of relationship. What was I missing or more likely, what was missing in me?
Over the years, as I have grown in the Lord, I have learned some deep truths concerning loneliness. The first thing: You can’t give what you don’t have. This goes both ways. While we look for attributes in others to fill what is lacking in us, it may be that they don’t have what we need. We may find we feel lonely because we are depleted internally and have no reserve to love others adequately. What is missing in companionship is obscured in our desire to apprehend it. Our appetite for relationship overshadows the ability to cultivate anything meaningful. Our love has grown cold.
Remember Jesus going to a solitary place? Jesus recognized the importance of isolation in order to refuel, love others and to hear from the Father.
The Bible says in Luke 5:15-16 (NLT):
“But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”
So what looks like being reclusive is actually preparation to friendliness. Jesus recognized in order to be unflinching in relationship we will be required to have times of quiet and seclusion. Feelings of loneliness just may be a call to go deeper in relationship with Jesus in order to be prepared to love in greater measure. Living unflinching is being determined to seek out companionship with others. Dear one, lead. Show them the way to Jesus and share your struggle. Guaranteed, they probably feel the same way you do. The alternative to opening up your heart is a revolving door of perpetual loneliness.
The Father knows there are times that we feel lonely. He addresses it many times in scripture. Jesus is our great High Priest who understands our limitations and needs (Hebrews 4:15), He has been “forsaken” by His Father (Matthew 27:46) and rejected by men (Isaiah 53:3). Yet, He stilled loved in the midst of all the abuse and mistreatment. In His loneliest moment He was welcoming a prodigal into the kingdom of God (Luke 23:43).
“To the fatherless he is a father.
To the widow he is a champion friend.
The lonely he makes part of a family.
The prisoners he leads into prosperity until they sing for joy.
This is our Holy God in his Holy Place!
But for the rebels there is heartache and despair.”
Psalm 68:5-6 (TPT)
So, is it all about just giving to others and denying how we feel? Do we simply suck it up and pretend everything is ok? I don’t think so. The Bible is clear in this passage out of Psalms. He understands our desire to belong. The Lord will place us with the right people. I have prayed for that so many times and guess what, He has definitely sat me down in the middle of my tribe. The word for “prisoner” in this passage in the Septuagint reads “bitter ones”. I find it comforting that even when I am embittered and having feelings of alienation, He desires to lead me into pleasant paths. Jesus understands the circumstances of our sad heart. It won’t always be like this. So, in the meantime:
I can learn a new song of liberty that attracts the lonely into the fold.
I can love because He enables me to.
I walk with my head high because He is right beside me.
I will love in seasons of loneliness because I am courageous, fearless, determined… I am Unflinching.