Turn to me and have mercy on me, because I am lonely and hurting. (Psalm 25:16)
- When have you experienced loneliness?
- What is the difference between aloneness and loneliness?
- How have you experience loneliness in busyness?
Receive It. Grace never leaves you alone. You might experience loneliness in your life, but God never intends for you to do life on your own. He created us for relationship. However, we experience lonely times. We feel alone. We feel isolated, which is different than actually being alone. The truth is we are never alone. Even when we are by ourselves, as followers of Christ, we are with God. He is with us. When we feel lonely, we can be comforted and reassured in his presence. We don’t need to ignore our feelings of isolation; in fact, we shouldn’t ignore those feelings, because what we keep in the dark will usually grow and infect us in all sorts of unhealthy ways. Instead, we can call out to God and tell him about our loneliness. He reassures us. He invests in us. He challenges us and convicts us. God’s presence isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Discipleship never is. It’s growth-producing and growth is often not comfortable. Rewarding? Yes. But comfortable? No.
God’s presence provides grace to us in the loneliness. Grace fills the spaces. We don’t know how the spaces got there, and we often try to fill the spaces with things that look appealing but end up being unsatisfying spiritual junk food. Only God can fill the gaps with his perfect provision of just what we need and what only he can provide. Whether you’re in the middle of a crowd when you experience loneliness or isolated away from others, you are not alone. Acknowledge God’s presence and accept his grace. Trust him to give you everything you need.
Live It. Make space today. Set aside one minute to sit completely by yourself in silence, if possible. Close your eyes and clear your mind. Try to think of nothing. Sweep it clean. Of course, it will be a struggle, but don’t give up. Keep cleaning for a full minute. At the end, you might not have swept every thought clean, but you’ll hopefully have more space than before. Ask God to fill it.
I refused to be comforted. (Psalm 77:2b)
Why refuse to be comforted?
We need to insist on being comforted in the right ways by the right people (Person) for the right reasons. Consolation and feeling better are not the best goals. Only God can give what we need when we need it: His Presence and His Peace. He provides, and we can trust Him.
Do not be far from me, because distress is near and there is no one to help. (Psalm 22:11)
Sometimes, distress feels nearer than help. It might not be reality but it might be what we experience. But even when we feel close to distress and isolated from anyone who can or will help, we can ask God to be near. We often ask Him to take our distress away, assuming that will always be His choice or priority if we are close to Him and He is close to us, but that isn’t true. Sometimes, He is near among the distress. We can be close to and surrounded by both at the same time.
Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Please Lord, remember how I have walked before You faithfully and wholeheartedly and have done what pleases You.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. (2 Kings 20:2-3)
God remembers. Asking Him to remember is more about us than Him. It’s us recalling what we’ve done and how we’ve trusted Him (or not) and acknowledging that He knows everything about us in the past, present, and future. It’s our humility and boldness in His presence. And it’s an essential part of our faith.
Spend some time with God today, recalling your journey with Him, settling into His presence in the present, and trusting Him with the future.
Give it all to Him. Give yourself to Him.
Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 6:14-15a)
There’s a difference between being around and being among. Being around involves aloofness, close in proximity yet not closely involved or invested. Being among is more intimate. It’s more entwined, making it more difficult to tell who is not connected to whom.
That’s the way God is: among. He is invested and involved. He doesn’t come and go. He doesn’t just casually hang out.
I know it doesn’t always feel that way, but our feelings don’t make something so (or not so). We might not be able to fully grasp God’s complete “amongness,” but we can trust Him. He is trustworthy, and He is present.
Sometimes I get tired of all the advice on prayer. Not that I haven’t read good books on prayer, but sometimes, I get to the end and have lots of ideas but am still no closer to living a deeper prayer life. In fact, perhaps sometimes we make matters worse by reading so many suggestions, because we just can’t seem to apply them well enough or often enough.
People are often ready with quick advice to “just talk to God.” I get it. I really do. But some of us are more comfortable with God than others. Some of us just don’t know how to begin, what to say, what not to say, or how to stay focused. Some people aren’t even sure God exists, let alone will listen or care.
I love praying and have grown in prayer through the years. I’ve used all kinds of tools and suggestions, and many of them have helped me, but none so much as to simply sitting in God’s presence.
I don’t always have to know what to say, not because I’m overwhelmed by needs but because I’m in awe of and satisfied with sitting in His presence.
Try it. Just sit. Savor. Steep. Enjoy. Receive and give without saying a word.
I don’t recommend it often, but as I sat across from a friend and heard her declaration, I knew exactly what she meant:
Sometimes I need to stay home from church to be with God.
I’m a strong advocate of being deeply invested in and belonging to a local church body, not for legalistic reasons, but because God does His work among His people. He brings us together, so we form a whole, complementing each other. We learn from each other through cooperation and conflict. We work through our faith, getting to know God better, as we trust His leading in our relationships, service, and worship. He disciples us as individuals and as a whole. We miss His will and blessing when we disengage.
But we also need solitude with Him. We need His perspective, especially when we sense there is too much noise around us. We need His clarity. That doesn’t mean we selfishly disengage because we’re uncomfortable, inconvenienced, or irritated. Staying home from church isn’t about getting away from something as much as it is an intentional pursuit of Someone.
When done for the right reasons, out of a right relationship with God, staying home from church can be filled with His presence and blessing. Be guided by discernment, not guilt. Be bold in responding to His prompting. It’s not always what we expect.
Seek and savor His presence, no matter where you are.