Summary: In this time of social distancing, we may be isolated, but we are never alone! Emmanuel is always with us.
ALONE, YET NOT LONELY
"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6.
Leadership is a great privilege! But it comes with so much responsibility that can drive one to a lonely place. A recent survey of pastors conducted by the UK Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) found that a significant number of pastors feel lonely and under-supported in their ministry. Another survey of business leaders carried out in 2011 and reported in the Harvard Business Review found that 50% of the respondents experienced feelings of loneliness. In addition, loneliness increases the likelihood of experiencing depression by 15% and anxiety by 13%. It also increases blood pressure, heightening the risk of stroke and heart disease. We all can feel lonely at times. But the truth is, we are never alone. Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to comfort us. So loneliness should be a time to become conversant with God.
"Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me." John 16:32.
Only those who abide in the presence of God can go through circumstances of life alone, and yet not be lonely.
"At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them." 2 Timothy 4:16.
Apostle Paul also knew the pain of loneliness! After years of faithful service to the Lord, he found himself in a dark Roman prison. In his hour of need, many abandoned him. But the Lord stood with him and strengthened him. The Lord is always with us—even if we can’t perceive Him. "When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me." Psalm 27:10. Even when those closest to us abandon us in our darkest hours, God will remain with us. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4.
"6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. 7 I lie awake, And am like a sparrow alone on the housetop." Psalm 102:6-7.
The Psalmist here paints a picture of loneliness, gloom, sadness and depression! There are many people today who feels exactly like the three birds mentioned above. Do you feel like a pelican in the wilderness, an owl in the desert, or a sparrow on a rooftop? Loneliness makes you feel isolated, overlooked, unloved, deserted, useless, and unwanted. Sometimes you can be surrounded by crowds of people, yet still lonely. Many times, loneliness results from a crisis due to the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a separation. You have tried to have friends, but countless times facing rejection. So a deep inner wound develop. Loneliness leads to insecurity. An insecure person has no sense of self-worth. So they build walls and close themselves in. Sadly loneliness can lead to sorrow, loses and tragedy. In a survey of heart attack patients, 50% percent were feeling depressed and lonely when they had the attack. Those who have suicidal tendency also feel deep loneliness. Another survey also points out that 80% of those seeking help from a psychiatrist did so because of loneliness. But I will like you to know, when no one else understands how you feel, Jesus does. You are never alone.
"But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” 1 Kings 19:4.
Prophet Elijah had defeated the prophets of Baal in one of the most memorable confrontation ever witnessed in the Bible. Instead of being celebrated for bringing righteousness back to the nation of Israel, he was being hunted by Jezebel. Elijah was depressed! So he went into the wilderness alone, and prayed that he would die. Are you like Elijah? Have you been driven into caves and the wilderness by the circumstances of life? Caves where you take refuge when your heart is wounded. A place of self pity, inferiority complex and low self esteem. The cave is a dark, lonely and depressing place to be. If you’re struggling with depression, talk to God about it today. Ask Him to forgive you. Tell Him to empower you to let go of self pity and anger. Read and meditate on the promises of God in the Bible. Spend time giving thanks to God. Get proper rest. Don’t quit. Keep your eyes and thoughts to God. Remember, just as He was with Elijah, God will never, ever leave you.