Loneliness

Loneliness is a desolate, windy path of potholes and snares.

Loneliness is a season of despair, fear and pity.

Loneliness is a brutal taskmaster as it distorts the truth and exaggerates the facts.

Loneliness is a time of sadness, pain, isolation and self-absorption.

Loneliness separates, isolates, traps and enslaves.

Loneliness is like quicksand, an ocean undercurrent, bog, pit, and dungeon.

Most of us at some time have crawled on the lonely path of loneliness.  There is no peace, joy, contentment, or light on this path.   Faith is weak, hope has despaired and the horizon is dark and stormy.

My most poignant season of loneliness occurred when we were experiencing the uncertainty of our newborn son’s health.  When our fourth child, Greg, was born we could not pronounce him healthy even though the doctors had given him a clean bill of health. Our second child had been born with a genetic disease that claimed her life at the tender age of 5 months.  When our third child, a daughter, was born her daddy declared her healthy.  That was that: no fear, no worries.  But with Greg it was different.  With Werdnig-Hoffman disease (SMA Type 1) the child can be born appearing healthy.  However, we carried the most acute form of disease, which meant by the time the child was six-weeks old the muscles would start to degenerate and life expectancy was less than one year. As we faced the uncertainty we didn’t know if God was preparing us for what laid ahead or Satan was binding us in fear.

My husband and I decided not to express our fears.  A clock began to tick; our season of loneliness began.  We would wait, hope, and worry. We would not bother any one else with our problem.  We would wait until “we knew” for certain the diagnoses.

One Sunday after church, I was standing alone in the hallway holding my baby and listening to the chatter of people visiting.  Deep loneliness washed over me. Sadness played its sorrowful tune. Fear sat on my shoulder and pity wagged a bony finger.

A few Sundays later we were ready and  our pastor shared our burden with the congregation.  The fellowship surrounded us with love, compassion, tears and prayers.  Greg Alan did have Werdnig-Hoffman disease (SMA Type 1).  Nothing was going to change that fact. But something happened that I will never forget.  Fear fled and pity evaporated.  My brothers and sisters became the loving arms of Jesus surrounding me. I was not alone.  I still had to walk a difficult path but there were now encouragers strolling beside me.  There were illuminated signposts showing the way and the potholes were covered in prayer. There were even flowers growing beside my path.

During a very lonely time Jeremiah cried out, “In dark places He (God) has made me dwell, like those who have long been dead. He has walled me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy.  Even when I cry out a call for help, He shuts out my prayer” Lamentations 3: 6-8.

Jeremiah was very lonely. He felt no one believed him and everyone was against him. He even felt shut out and abandoned by God.

Elijah had just witnessed an incredible miracle of God.  It was a mountaintop experience. God rained down fire on the alter in answer to Elijah’s fervent prayer.  A ferocious storm loomed on the horizon and Elijah pulled up his skirt and outran the chariot of King Ahab back to the city. When the wicked queen, Jezebel was told of the slaughter of her beloved priests of Baal she threatened to kill Elijah.  In panic Elijah ran for his life.  In fear he sat under a broom tree in the wilderness and self-pity became his sole mate.  In despair he prayed that the God of life would take his life.  Later God appeared to Elijah as he hid in a cave.  Elijah whined to God, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of host; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword.  I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”  I Kings 19:14

Elijah distorted the truth and exaggerated the facts.  God told Elijah to get off his duff and get to work.  God also gently reminded Elijah that 7000 people in Israel had not bowed their knees to idols.  Elijah just thought he was alone! His fear, pity and despair trapped him in a self-absorbed pit.

Probably the most poignant and heart-wrenching picture of loneliness is that of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and later on the cross. In the garden his devoted disciples fell asleep when he needed them the most.  In fear and agony he sweated drops of blood.  On the cross he cried out in anguish, as he felt forsaken and deserted by God.

When you feel alone, think on these things:

  • Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be afraid; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
  • The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.  He will thrust out the enemy from before you.  Deuteronomy 33:27
  • 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. Psalms 23: 4
  • Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overflow you.”  Isaiah 43:1-2a
  • But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Have you noticed that….

  • The windy path of loneliness is through a lush valley.
  • Spring follows the winter of despair.
  • If we abide in God’s word His truth will set us free. John 8:32
  • God desires to give us beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3).
  • Light dispels darkness.
  • Those who experience the presence of the living God soar like eagles.

Like Jeremiah I can say, “Through the Lord’s mercies I am not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are renewed every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3: 22-23

Written February 15, 2004

2 Comments »

  1. Marj Said:

    Thanks, Pat….

    Like

  2. Ruth Hochstetler Said:

    A very comforting post, Pat. Thanks.

    Like


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