Grace in Loneliness

graceTurn to me and have mercy on me, because I am lonely and hurting. (Psalm 25:16)

Ponder It.

  • 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.

You Stood Me Up

I waited for you today. I had hoped to meet you in the quiet corner of the coffee shop you frequent. I enjoy sitting across from you, listening to your heart. Hearing you share about your daily life thrills me. I’m honored when you share. I want to walk through life with you. I’ll listen to the details and never trivialize them. I’ll listen to your dreams no matter how silly or out-of-reach they might seem. I’ll help broaden your perspective to see the big picture.

I just want to sit with you. I treasure our silence. It’s the time we spend together that I value. I waited, hoping you’d slip into the empty chair across the table from me.

I know you’re busy. Even on the days when your schedule goes smoothly, it’s difficult for you to fit anything extra. I wish I wasn’t “extra.” Perhaps you don’t understand how invested I am in your life. I want you to know I support you. I love you, and because of that love, I will always approach you with compassion, patience, kindness – and accountability. You might not always like what I say, because my love for you is bold enough to confront you when you need to be confronted. I care too much to let you continue with faulty thinking or unhealthy behavior – no matter how extensively you’ve rationalized it.

You probably get mad or frustrated with me at times. On those days, you avoid spending time with me. On the days you don’t push open the doors and purposefully walk toward me and sit to share time with me, I miss you no matter what your reason is. When I look at the empty chair across from me, I’m sad. I watch people coming and going; many of them are alone, connecting with no one but the person managing the exchange of money and goods. I listened to people placing their orders with specific instructions and becoming disgruntled when the end products aren’t exactly as expected. Every now and then, I catch someone’s glance and exchange a quick smile.

I long for substantial connection, where someone is open to my investment into them.

That’s what I want for you. I miss you. I’m waiting for you. The empty chair and my longing heart are waiting.

Love, God

God Heard

running-awayEarly the next morning Abraham took some food and a leather bag full of water. He gave them to Hagar and sent her away. Carrying these things and her son, Hagar went and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. Later, when all the water was gone from the bag, Hagar put her son under a bush. Then she went away a short distance and sat down. She thought, “My son will die, and I cannot watch this happen.” She sat there and began to cry. God heard the boy crying, and God’s angel called to Hagar from heaven. He said, “What is wrong, Hagar? Don’t be afraid! God has heard the boy crying there. Help him up and take him by the hand. I will make his descendants into a great nation.” Then God showed Hagar a well of water. So she went to the well and filled her bag with water and gave the boy a drink. Genesis 21:14-19

Hagar wasn’t happy. She loved her son but was in an unfavorable living condition with Sarah and Abraham. She felt the need to get away.

When have you wanted to escape?

When has that escape route proven to be no better than where you were – just a place with another set of problems?

At least where Hagar had been, her son was safe. Now she was sure he would die. How would she provide everything he needed?

She wouldn’t. God would. Of course, God already knew where she’d be. He knew when she’d leave Abraham and Sarah. He knew the details of what she was feeling. He knew when to step in and what to do. He encouraged her. He assured her. He nourished her.

When has God nourished you with encouragement and assurance?

How dry Hagar must have felt. Spiritually, God poured into her, but he also knew she needed physical refreshment. He showed her a well where she and her son could drink. Of course, her first concern was her son, and she shared the drink with him first. Right when she thought she had doomed her son, God provided a way for her to nourish him.

Live It. God will provide for you today. Just as God showed Hagar where to find the water, and she first gave it to her son, God often provides for you so that you can share with someone else. You don’t need to give the leftovers. You can share the first sip.