Perhaps one of the most understated or undervalued aspects of salvation is the aspect of God’s companionship. It is ironic because the core of being one with God through faith in Jesus Christ is that we are never alone without Him. His personal, purposed presence is the saving element in our lives, whereas once we were lost and estranged from Him. God was not content to send us detached information about Himself so that we could think about Him. No, our Maker had an eternal desire to be with us and in us, not merely above us. Deepening faith is accompanied by an acute awareness that God is with you in an ever-unfolding way. His voice, His love, His power, His truth, His hand and His provision indicate to us that our God is committed, active and involved. It is my concern that many people are missing this experience and seeking in lesser things the very comfort that should come from His personal presence. The result of seeking the effects of God’s presence from alternative (inferior!) sources is this loneliness I’m writing about today.
I believe that the experience of loneliness is a conclusion more so than a reality. What I mean is that, once I conclude that my circumstances are unfavorable, my human comforts inadequate, my value undesirable to others and my life insufficiently shared…I will experience the unavoidable feelings of loneliness. I spent many years in abject loneliness and sadness before being brought to Christ. Ironically, I was most often surrounded with people and frequently engaged in unending activity. But I was very, very lonely. My mind was like a large, empty cavern wherein every individual thought bounced around with distressing echo. There wasn’t really anyone to answer the questions I was asking about life. Looking back, it seems that I spent a decade in my head by myself. When I was saved at the age of twenty-four, I become quickly aware that there was now an additional Voice, a new Voice, that was with me all the time. Mine had always been the voice of question and need, yet now there was the voice of God bringing answers and truth. He would speak when I didn’t ask Him to. He was giving instruction when I didn’t necessarily sense the need for any. God the Spirit, I discovered, was investing His counsel in me and I was graced to develop the ability to discern what He was saying.
I had found a Friend in God.
Does it sound trite for me to share that today I don’t often wrestle with loneliness because I now know that God is truly with me? Or is my treasuring and contentment in His presence actually a legitimate remedy to the danger of concluding myself as being unhappy or lonely? Let’s look at it this way: if Jesus Christ was your physical companion each and every day – your roommate, your coworker, your prayer partner, your carpool companion, your confidant…is it realistic to think that you could conclude yourself to be mired in loneliness? The answer is, of course, no; it is rather likely that you would be the most ecstatic and satisfied person among us. Yet He is not here with us bodily, and therefore we are tempted to believe that we lack opportunity to share the reality of His nearness and it’s resulting joy. Here we are again, wrestling between our faith and our sight. Our theology does not satisfy our appetite because loneliness stamps her foot and demands a confidence that someone cares and assures us that we are not alone. ‘Surely someone out there understands me!’ we cry. Yet when God presents Himself as the ultimate source of companionship we find a resistance to this within us because it is not really what we feel we want. Truthfully, we prefer somebody with skin on. God seems like an impractical solution to our feelings of loneliness. We take Him for granted as if to think that we always have God and, therefore, His presence alone could not possibly be the answer to our sense of loneliness.
I leave you with the words of the very wise A.W. Tozer. He grasped an undeniable reality that helps us to see that loneliness in the realm of human companionship does not need to be viewed as a detriment. Tozer says, “Most of the world’s great souls have been lonely.” Were he alive today, he would hear my hearty Amen to what he says. Once a person concludes themselves to be lonely, they need to urgently choose a course of action. One may choose self-pity and sadness and find a downward, spiral staircase into the abyss of self-focus. The other alternative is to accept circumstances which recognize our solitude and aloneness, and then to welcome God Himself to take up all that empty space. If we desire to experience the greatness of God, it may be that He graciously removes anything that might obscure that greatness. Maybe He’s allowing the circumstances for loneliness but is unwilling to allow you the conclusion of loneliness in your heart and mind. Maybe God is removing things so that you can experience His replenishing. Could it be that He is ordaining some answers to your long-forgotten prayers that He would be your all-in-all one day? Maybe that is exactly what is happening. It feels like loneliness but it just might be love.
Father is always a Friend to us. Make sure that the voice of loneliness hears that. Tell it to her often when she tries to define you. When she hears you declare it repeatedly, it is likely that she will fall silent.