Week of May 16

He Understands
by Max Lucado

Cries of loneliness. Tune out the traffic and turn down the TV. The cry is there. You can hear their cries. You can hear them in the convalescent home among the sighs and the shuffling feet. You can hear them in the prisons among the moans of shame and the calls for mercy. You can hear them if you walk the manicured streets of suburban America, among the aborted ambitions and aging homecoming queens. Listen for it in the halls of our high schools where peer pressure weeds out the “have-nots” from the “haves.”

Many of you have been spared this cruel cry. Oh, you have been homesick or upset a time or two. But despair? Far from it. Suicide? Of course not. Be thankful that it hasn’t knocked on your door. Pray that it never will. If you have yet to fight this battle, you are welcome to read on if you wish, but I’m really writing to someone else.

I am writing to those who know this cry firsthand. I’m writing to those of you whose days are bookended with broken hearts and long evenings. I’m writing to those of you who can find a lonely person simply by looking in the mirror.

For you, loneliness is a way of life. The sleepless nights. The lonely bed. The distrust. The fear of tomorrow. The unending hurt.

When did it begin? In your childhood? At the divorce? At retirement? At the cemetery? When the kids left home?

Maybe you have fooled everyone. No one knows that you are lonely. On the outside you are packaged perfectly. Your smile is quick. Your job is stable. Your clothes are sharp. Your waist is thin. Your calendar is full. Your walk brisk. Your talk impressive. But when you look in the mirror, you fool no one. When you are alone, the duplicity ceases and the pain surfaces.

Or maybe you don’t try to hide it. Maybe you have always been outside the circle looking in, and everyone knows it. Your conversation is a bit awkward. Your companionship is seldom requested. Your clothes are dull. Your looks are common. Ziggy is your hero and Charlie Brown is your mentor.

Am I striking a chord? If I am, if you have nodded or sighed in understanding, I have an important message for you.

The most gut-wrenching cry of loneliness in history came not from a prisoner or a widow or a patient. It came from a hill, from a cross, from a Messiah.

“My God, my God,” he screamed, “why did you abandon me!” (Matthew 27:46)

Never have words carried so much hurt. Never has one being been so lonely.

Out of the silent sky come the words screamed by all who walk in the desert of loneliness. “Why? Why did you abandon me?”

I keep thinking of all the people who cast despairing eyes toward the dark heavens and cry “Why?”

And I imagine him. I imagine him listening. I picture his eyes misting and a pierced hand brushing away a tear. And although he may offer no answer, although he may solve no dilemma, although the question may freeze painfully in midair, he who also was once alone, understands.

book coverFrom No Wonder They Call Him the Savior
© (W Publishing Group, 1986, 2004) Max Lucado