Most of us are intimidated by loneliness to the point we’ll do almost anything to avoid being alone. We leave the television on when we're not watching, the radio while we work, the iPod while we exercise. We seem intimidated by quiet because it reminds us we are alone.
Aloneness is painful and intimidating. It causes us to feel forgotten or abandoned. And the worst and most painful reality for some is that we assume God has abandoned us. His silence is terrifying and makes our worst fear seem to become reality. We feel rejected by everyone.
In my own loneliness I have come to discover some things. Loneliness is God's workbench where the master craftsman does His most brilliant work alone. Most of us remain unaware that God is doing anything in our lives until the work is done. He seems to delight in doing His work this way. He must love surprises.
The Apostle Paul spent extended time with God in this desert called aloneness. Years passed as Moses languished in obscurity while God sanded a rough man into a mighty messenger of God. David was forced to live in a lonely places miles from anyone he knew or loved. Even Hagar, the young servant of Sarah, found herself in a desperate and lonely place.
After Abraham and Sarah foolishly attempted to use another human being to satisfy their desire for a child, they rejected her as unworthy of their company. Hagar the handmaiden became for them little more than a means to an end. In the midst of that painful reality, Hagar fled her mistress. Gen. 16:8 tells us the Angel of the Lord came and found her. “And he said, ‘Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ ‘I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,’ she answered.” Hagar's cure for the deep pain of loneliness, rejection and abuse is interesting. It was to run into greater loneliness. Often our reaction to our loneliness leads to more of the same—only more intense.
Then God revealed Himself to Hagar in that lonely desert place. The experience was so real and so powerful that she offers all the world a new insight to the character and nature of our God. Notice what she says: “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me’” (Gen. 16:13). He is the God who sees me. What a revelation. God sees me. In a world of more than five billion people, God can and does see me in my aloneness. God sees you and knows the intimate and intimidating details of your aloneness. The truth is that even in the most lonely place you are never alone. God revealed Himself in the advent of our Savior and His Son as Immanuel, "God with us." We are never alone. Ever.
In a conversation yesterday, a man I barely know asked me if I would ever consider doing something that I have longed to do for years. I won't muddy this stream with needless details; suffice it to say, I have waited for such an opportunity and only the Lord knew what was in my heart. As a matter of fact, before I met this man for lunch I prayed, Lord, if you want me to do this thing, have him suggest it. He did, and I knew once again that I was not alone. The Lord sometimes hides us beneath His wings, waiting for the appointed hour when He raises His pinions and reveals His mighty work in and through our lonely lives. What a God! What an awesome, mighty, mysterious God! He is worthy of my praise! I praise Him!
My aloneness and loneliness are not so intimidating anymore!