Today’s Thought and Text of Encouragement:
“And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence, excellence, dignity and grace was not arrayed like one of these.”
“If the Lord careth for thee, be thyself at rest.”
“When we see the lilies
Spinning in distress,
Taking thought to
When we see the birds all
Building barns for store,
‘Twill be time for us to worry –
Today’s Study Text:
“And I, I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
1 Kings 19:10
“I, Only I -- When You Feel Lonely and Abandoned”
“We are born helpless. As soon as we are fully conscious we discover loneliness. We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually; we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves.”
C. S. Lewis
Have you ever been in a place in your life where you felt lonely?
Have you reached out to someone you know is lonely?
How can we build bridges that help us reach out to each other?
“Loneliness and the feeling of being uncared for and unwanted are the greatest poverty.”
“Christ understands loneliness; He’s been through it.”
He stood up for God. He had faced down the prophets of Baal. But now, even after a miraculous outpouring of God’s power on Carmel, alone in the wilderness in a cave on Horeb, the prophet Elijah felt very alone. This was not an emotion which recalled the solitary year he had spent at the Brook Cherith.
Nor was this a loneliness that reflected the years in a foreign nation where the worship of the God of heaven and earth was decried.
No, this was the type of loneliness where one feels there is no one who understands the intense pain you are going through. This is the abandonment felt by an individual who has put everything on the line for everybody around them, only to come to a day where what they have done is completely forgotten or worse yet, ungratefully ignored. This was the place Elijah found himself in. As he took stock of the response of the children of Israel to God’s intervention and His gracious attempt to call His children back to His path -- Elijah could not see any sign that God’s message had penetrated the darkness. No light shown through. And so in a moment of deep despair, all alone in Horeb’s cave, Elijah cried out, “I, only I.” That’s lonely. What’s more, just maybe it is an absolute loneliness similar to what you have felt. As family and friends go about with their own self-absorbed ways, your heart breaks in unison with Elijah, and you groan or just whisper, “I, only I.”
Unlike some Biblical authors who look at Elijah’s response as a self-centered reaction, I have chosen to reflect on how I would have felt had I walked in Elijah’s sandals and for that matter, in the same path as other Biblical heroes who found themselves in a position where they experienced companionless moments. When they, too, felt completely forsaken.
Author M. B. Van’t Veer allows us to peer through the window of lonesomeness when he takes his readers to the prison cell where John the Baptist was held captive -- imprisoned by the “Jezebel” of his own era -- Herodias, the wicked wife of the evil King Herod.
Left alone, with only rumors coming through iron-barred windows, John had to have felt that the desert life of solitary preaching about a coming Messiah had fallen on deaf ears and stony hearts. As Van’t Veer notes, “Wasn’t John’s soul tormented by dark questions that upset Elijah centuries before him?”
Now, thousands of years later, during the Christmas season where the tinsel and lights …the bells and carols…call our hearts to celebrate joy to the world, what becomes of the lonely-hearted. Those who in the past year have lost a beloved or quite possibly, those who had no beloved to lose in the first place.
Where do the lonely look at this moment in time?
I love the honest expression shared by author Malcolm Boyd who portrays the anguish of confinement felt by our hearts when they are in exile, all alone in a cave somewhere -- focused only on the darkness that visually surrounds us. Here is how Boyd chose to put his feelings onto paper:
“I know it sounds corny, Jesus, but I’m lonely. I wasn’t going to get lonely anymore, and so I kept very busy, telling myself I’m serving You. But it’s getting dark again, and I’m alone. Why do I feel so sorry for myself? There’s no reason why I should be, You’re with me, and I know it. I’ll be with other people in a little while. I know some of them love me very much in their own way, and I love some of them very much in mine. But I still feel so lonely right now, in this minute that I’m living now.”
And so, I ask this question. “Where do you and I go to find solace when our hearts break with the isolating pain of loneliness?”
Thankfully, our answer and solace is found in several places in Scripture. The first is in the prophetic words of the prophet Isaiah, “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: ‘Behold, the young woman who is unmarried shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel, God with us” (Isaiah 7: 14, Amplified Bible). As the disciple Matthew records, “All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet, ‘Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel -- which, when translated, means, God with us” (Matthew 1: 22-23, Amplified Bible).
For those times when the aloneness of life shuts off all forms of human contact, the promise of God with us penetrates the darkness of your confinement and mine, just as it did the Son of God when He came to earth. For as we walk the path of God’s Son when here on earth, we find the same blanket of separation and isolation lay over His world. And in a cry that rings down through the ages as well we hear the Son of God’s voice call out: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27: 46, K.J.V.).
In the words of Bishop J. H. Vincent, “He Himself (Jesus) was forsaken that none of His children might ever need to utter His cry of loneliness.” As the prophet Isaiah so touchingly reminds us, we have been given the gift of a child, God’s Son, whose name is Wonderful Counselor Mighty God, Prince of Peace” and our “God of all Comfort.” Our eternal gift. A gift to comfort every lonely heart. In the words of Jennifer Rees Larcombe, “Lord Jesus, I feel lonely…You must have been lonely so often…so, because You understand, will You come into my loneliness and share it with me? Then, because I know I am not alone after all, please give me the courage to stop excluding other people. They could be the very ones You might be sending to me, friends who are willing to be Your arms to comfort me. Lord, please help me.”
“When you feel you are alone
Remember there are angels
Whose sole purpose is to
Embrace the lonely.”
“And He (Jesus) withdrew from them about a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed. Saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove the cup from Me; yet not My will, but always Yours be done. And there appeared to Him (Jesus) an angel from heaven, strengthening Him in Spirit.”
“Sing to God, sing praises to His name, cast up a highway for Him who rides through the deserts -- His name is the Lord -- be in high spirits and glory before Him! A father of the fatherless and a judge and protector of the widows is God in His holy habitation. God places the solitary in families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell.”
“Thank You, God of the lonely, for the call to wrestle with loneliness. Help me not to run from it or to give in to it by buying things, withdrawing from others or compensating by eating or drinking too much. I pray that I can be with this feeling of ache and longing for companionship and happiness. God, You have said that You will give the lonely a home. Well, I need a home so much now, a sense of belonging and of being loved, of having a home in the heart of another. Please help me to be aware of how much You love me and how strongly You are a companion to me at all times. Come, visit me with Your peace and Your love. Come, make Your home in me and I will make mine in You. Help me to reach out to others and go forth with hope in my heart.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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