When I got home this afternoon Ruth greeted me with the news that she had signed me up for Facebook. After all these years of resisting I’ve finally joined the extended family. This evening I’ve been looking at pictures of people who have confirmed to be friends and a lot of memories are rolling around in my head. I hadn’t thought a lot about how easy it is to get separated from people you care about. I have to admit seeing all these faces makes me a bit lonely. Old friends and old memories shouldn’t be forgotten or stored away on a shelf somewhere in our brain. These friends are the people who made us who we are. We worked, worshipped, hung out and laughed together. But just because that part of our life may be over doesn’t mean those friendships shouldn’t last. I am excited to hear from so many old friends who were there at every stage of my life.
It’s sad that some people are alone. Because of age they may now be the last leaf on the tree, so to speak, because all their friends have passed on. Other people are new to a region and haven’t had time to make friends. And some people, for whatever reason, just don’t seem to find the right relationships to make friendships. It’s hard being alone having no one to share ideas and important milestones with. All this started me thinking of some Biblical characters that faced a lot of loneliness in their experience. Daniel in the lions den comes to mind. Joseph thrown in a pit and later sold into slavery by a bunch of jealous brothers was another unpleasant situation. Just because you have a large family doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be lonely. Some families can leave you feeling lonely in their very midst. Jeremiah, who was persecuted, mocked, beaten and ridiculed was a social outcast. All of these people may have felt separated from society but they were never separated from God.
God promises, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13: 5. In Matthew 28 Jesus says, “Surely I am with you always.” And again in Jeremiah, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” Jeremiah 31:3 This is the one constant in all our relationships that God is love and we are the recipients of His love. Paul understood what it’s like to be abandoned and lonely but he had a hope in God that could see him through. He wrote,”we are hard pressed on every side, but are not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4: 8,9. He could be honest about his situation and feelings because he knew he never stood alone. As Christians we need to stop pretending everything is fine all the time when it isn’t. We need to admit sometimes we feel hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. And there are times we feel lonely and abandoned. But, because of God we are not crushed, left in despair, nor abandoned and destroyed. We are just loved.