We all know what it is like to feel lonely. Loneliness is Friday night with nowhere to go, eating lunch by yourself, saying “no” when everyone else is saying “yes,” having no one to talk to, having the sole responsibility for making an important decision, losing a loved one.
The Bible even portrays Hell as a form of loneliness, as eternal separation from God. Jesus can help us meet and manage the threat and pain that loneliness can bring to our lives.
“Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”
“shall leave me alone … ”
Jesus understands our loneliness. Jesus witnessed the loneliness of others. During His earthly ministry He saw it in the eyes of lepers, heard it in the voices of the blind, and felt it in the touch of the pressing masses. But even further, as our texts reminds us, Jesus Himself was left alone. We do not usually think of Jesus as being alone. We see Him in crowed streets, teaching with multitudes before Him. But we also need to see Him in Gethsemane in prayer, on trial before Pilate, climbing the hill of Calvary. The loneliness of leadership, of not being understood, of being abandoned and rejected—He knew them all.
“shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone…”
Jesus teaches us the true meaning of loneliness. We commonly associate loneliness with isolation. Yet, in this text Jesus distinguishes between the two. We often surround ourselves with crowds to keep from being lonely. But, in reality, crowds can be very lonely places. By the same token, isolation does not necessarily result in loneliness. For the spiritually healthy, solitude provides an occasion to cultivate our relationship with God. Jesus sought the solitude of the desert and the garden to meditate upon the will of God for his life.
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”
Paul received revelations in the desert of Arabia. Many saints through the ages have cherished their solitary moments for the opportunities they present to reflect on spiritual things. Why then is the pain of being alone so great for so many people? Is it because of the emotional pain we associate with rejection? Or is it because of the company it leaves us with?
“because the Father is with me.”
Jesus shows us the way to live with loneliness. We, like Jesus, can live with loneliness by abiding in the presence of the Father. By faith, Jesus knew God was with Him even though all others might abandon Him. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus promises His own continued presence for those who go forth to serve Him.
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Matthew 18:20 says we can also live with loneliness by sharing in the fellowship of the believing community.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
The abiding presence of Christ is actualized in the corporate worship of the church. He is there in His word, at His table. The abiding presence of Christ is enjoyed in our personal interaction with those in whose lives the Spirit of Christ dwells.
I’ll leave you with these words…
When the church is what it should be, loving as it should love, ministering as it should minister, there should never be a lonely person in it.