I must admit, growing up I didn’t have many female friends. I actually got along with the guys more. When it came to my female peers, I just plain felt left out. Seems like all of them already had a BFF and they didn’t feel enlarging their circle was necessary.
The few female friends I had here and there seemed more concerned about themselves than having me as a friend. I was a good listener, so they would keep me around so they could hear themselves talk.
Had I not learned early on how to keep to myself and brush off all that nonsense, I might have really gone to a dark place. However, as I grew older, my independence also grew and needing a gang of girlfriends just didn’t really seem important. Since adulthood, I have been lucky enough to find a few great friends and in that I am content.
Interacting with people has never been a problem for me. I love the energy I draw from being in crowds. Yet, there are times when loneliness presents itself and it doesn’t matter if I am with one person or several dozen. That feeling of being completely aware that I’m not really connected with anyone around me creeps in and well, it’s depressing.
As God’s creation, we were designed for relationship and when we can’t make the connection to another human being or we lose our connection to someone we feel close to, we feel isolated and alone. How do we deal with loneliness?
When I go to the Bible and look at the life of Jesus, it amazes me how as His reputation grew in the community so did the crowds. There were times when entire towns came out to meet Him and hear Him speak. Thousands and thousands of people followed Him around over the course of His life here on earth. And then, when the crowds were gone, He had 12 disciples staring back at Him. No wonder He went off to pray alone!
Yet, there are hints in the Bible that while Jesus was constantly surrounded by people, He was also very aware that He was alone. Alone in His understanding of the Father, alone in His mission, and alone in His pain.
When I think of Jesus being lonely, three scenes flash through my mind – the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ arrest, and the Cross.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would come face to face with what would soon be His greatest trial. Though He brought a few of the disciples with Him, He went into the Garden to pray alone. But before entering an exchange of words with the Father, Jesus would ask Peter, James, and John to pray. But this chosen three would fail Him in His biggest hour of need, falling asleep while they waited.
Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Matthew 26:40-41 NLT
I can’t even imagine the look on Jesus’ face when He came out of the Garden and found His three most trusted disciples lying there asleep, not once, but THREE times!!!
In that moment, Jesus must have felt entirely alone. But loneliness was not done with Him yet. As Judas enters the Garden, betrays Jesus, and Jesus is taken away, Matthew records this:
At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled. Matthew 26:56 NLT
Later at the cross, John would be the only disciple to return and come near enough to Jesus to be spoken too. Jesus would command John to take Mary, the mother of Jesus, to be a part of John’s family and John would comply.
But loneliness had not done its final work.
In the moments before Jesus’ last breath, He would cry out:
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Matthew 27:46 NLT
For the first time, as part of the process for the atonement of our sins, the Father would turn from Jesus. Jesus would experience a level of loneliness He had never experienced before – complete separation from the Father.
No one in this world could start to understand that moment. No one in Heaven could possibly bare that moment. Time would stand eerily still. And then, it was over. Loneliness, a dear friend of isolation, is cruel. But thank goodness, we have a Savior who overcame not only loneliness, but death and the grave.
Unlike what Jesus went through, with Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are truly never alone again. Proverbs 18:24 says this:
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. NIV
No matter what situation you are facing today, no matter who has ever left you, no matter how lonely you feel – you are NOT alone.
Father I pray that today You would open someone’s mind and heart to the truth of Your Word. That You would make Your presence known to them. Lord, begin to fill that space within them that loneliness has lived in. Root it out and refill that space with peace and joy. Father for every person today that desperately needs “a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” let them find that friend in You. As we go into the holiday season, teach us to look to You as our rock on which we can lean. Thank You for having our back, thank You for Your unwavering love, and thank You for showing us the way. Amen.
Founder, Transforming Love Ministries
Creator, She Steps Forward Women’s Conference
For more of Elaine’s story, you can find Love Echoed Back: I Cried Out; He Answered on amazon.com.
Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT and NIV
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.