Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Aloneness of Loneliness

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!
Ed Litton

3 comments:

Jan Owen said...

Hi Ed, I am a worship pastor from The Brook in Madison, Alabama. I've been checking in on your blog ever since the loss of your wife. Your blog really touched me because of my own experiences the past two years. While I have not lost my husband, I have gone through a painful period in our church that was truly traumatic - we lost our pastor's wife to suicide, then we lost many of our people, and then our pastor. It's been two years of grief. In all of that I have felt tempted many times to run away from the pain......as you say, to even greater loneliness.

I can't imagine your own pain, but I appreciate your putting words to my own experience as well.

Tony Simoncini said...

In the desert place we find ourselves totally dependent on the One true God. When times are good and fields are plentiful, we tend to do in our own strength, but when we are caught in the desert, looking for a place to drink, and something to eat, crying out to God...He provides manna; Just enough for today, and tomorrow we find ourselves trusting in Him and Him alone! Alas, we lean harder into God for He is with us when we are alone!

Wonderful words and insight into the work of God on His people! Thank you!
Tony

Rachel in Louisiana said...

I stumbled onto your blog after reading about your wife passing away on Russ Lee's Website a while back. They had asked for prayer for you and your family. Since then, I've been a regular, reading everything from August until now. I just feel like I should let you know how much your blog ministers to me. You have a way of sharing your personal life without sharing your personal life if that makes sense.

I know you wouldn't have chosen this path in a million years, but here you are and God is going to do something mighty with it.

I will continue to pray for you and your family. Thank you for your transparency.