Posts Tagged ‘Loneliness’

“Lord, hear my prayer!  Listen to my plea! Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress.  Bend down to listen, and answer me quickly when I call to you.  For my days disappear like smoke, and my bones burn like red-hot coals.  My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite. Because of my groaning, I am reduced to skin and bones.  I am like an owl in the desert, like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.  I like awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.” (Psalm 102:1-7)

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)

“But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem.  He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” (Daniel 6:10)

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.  Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”  (Matthew 6:6)

Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.” (Mark 6:31-32)

The Holy Scriptures share with us a valuable habit of our Lord Jesus Christ: He often withdrew into solitude.

The importance of the fact that He “often withdrew” into solitude should not be lost on the Christian; we should take note that in order to withdraw into solitude, Christ did not live in solitude.  He lived an engaged life with others, interacting with them, socializing with them.  He placed an importance on His time with people and spent the majority of His time serving them, teaching them, healing them, speaking with them, eating and drinking with them and surrounding Himself with them.  Because of this, He needed to rest and re-energize and did so by retreating to “lonely places”, “the wilderness”, “to solitary places”, to be alone with God.

Scripture greatly encourages time alone with God, giving example after example of righteous people deliberately and purposefully withdrawing into “places” of isolation for their time alone with God.  In those places, they are able to rest, relax their soul, their mind and their body.  It is in these places, in private, that they find their spiritual oasis they dip into for renewal.

Solitude is a place of reflection.  Reflection cannot successfully happen apart from solitude.

Scripture shows us that Jesus withdrew into solitary places to be alone when He received news about the death of John the Baptist and after performing the miracle of feeding 5,000 people (Matthew 14), when He was in distress just before His crucifixion (Luke 22), and before making the major decision of which disciples He would choose as His apostles.  Jesus was often even “alone” with his disciples, so we see that group solitude also has its benefits.

So the Christian is called to be a social creature.  We are not to live our lives in isolation, for what fruit do we bear there?  How can we fulfill our calling to spread the Good News of Christ Jesus if we are not interacting with others?  Our very lives should be as lamps set up to light the darkness; we should not put our lit lamps under baskets, as Jesus illustrated so eloquently in His parable: “No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.” (Luke 11:33)

Discernment is required here to achieve balance. The calling to be social is not a calling to be a busybody.  We are not called to fill our days with so much activity and toiling that we lose our focus and become distracted and fatigued.  Some of us are extroverts; some are introverts or ambiverts.  We are not all called to approach the mission of spreading the Gospel the same way. But we ARE all called to approach the mission with deliberate purpose and thought.

If any of us are living our lives in a state of isolation, void of human contact, we should take heed.  Technology advances are actively making it so easy to get through a day without any real human contact.  Posting and scrolling through social media and “liking” and commenting on posts is no replacement for looking into someone’s eyes or hearing their voice as you communicate with them.  Sadly, studies are showing that, with the advances of social media and other technologies that eliminate the need to have real contact with others, people are feeling more isolated and lonely than ever before has been recorded.

Depression rates are skyrocketing and apathy is rampant.  Technology is perpetuating desensitization on a global scale and the human being, while able to instantly connect with any information about anything we want to know, is left more humanly disconnected than ever.

Contrary to solitude, which is healthy in moderate doses, loneliness is an emotion, a state of mind and feeling of isolation that is destructive.  Loneliness is not of God; is the result of being away from His loving Presence. Throughout the Psalms, we see time and again how David pleaded with God to be near to him and to never remove His Presence from him.  How lonely and desperate are the Psalms David wrote while anguishing and begging for God to close the distance between them.  That is loneliness.  Fellowship with God, hearing, reading, thinking on His Holy Word in a solitary place is the remedy to a lonely, anguishing, exhausted soul.

God promises that He is always with us, so if we are in fellowship with Him, we do not experience prolonged bouts of loneliness.  He is the ultimate company and friend.  He is the antithesis of loneliness.  He may send us into the wilderness for refinement or discipline, but He is always with us.

People are hurting and lost; many are losing their sensitivity to the preciousness of life, goodness and righteousness.  The burden is on the Christian to be the light in the darkness and the way we do that is to interact in a real way with others; make time for them and be purposeful in the time we spend with them.  Then we can withdraw as needed for our alone time in solitude, just as Jesus did.  There we will always find refreshment from the living waters of God’s Word and His Presence.  Find the balance.  Leverage the benefits of solitude in our lives.  “Come out” of the world and take refuge in the rest that is found in solitude.  Then we are able to shine the light of the Lamp that is inside of us so we can illuminate the darkness around.

Solitude is not necessarily a “weapon of warfare” in the great spiritual battle, but it is a private room in the fortress and stronghold we withdraw into to rest and be renewed.  If we are not properly rested, if we are not regularly renewed, we run a high risk of being too fatigued and exhausted to stand firm in our daily battles.  Be social, spread the Good News of Christ with wisdom and discernment as opportunities present themselves.  Then slip away ‘to a quiet place and rest awhile.’