The Wilderness of Loneliness

What does it feel like to be in complete isolation? Have you been there? Could it be that someone you know is there right now? Physically isolated, devoid of meaningful interaction even if we walk through a sea of people each day. Mentally isolated, without anyone who knows us, or even wants to. Emotionally isolated, walled off from honest, intimate connection. Spiritually isolated, doubting it all.

The wilderness of loneliness is a dark and scary place. I’ve been there.

Darkness closes in. Uncaring people rush around us and yet no one sees our face of pain. The weight of our sorrows is too heavy to bear. Hope of any significant change in our circumstances can’t penetrate the dense forest of loneliness and regret. And often there are so many questions about what happened. Why? How? When will it end? Will there ever be someone? Someone who helps? Someone who loves? Someone who cares?

We don’t always know when someone else is battling through this wilderness. But we know how impossible it feels when we are.

Sometimes in the wilderness of loneliness we’re completely alone. Sometimes there are people in proximity, but for whatever reason we’re not engaging them. Maybe we’ve been told that you don’t talk to others about private matters. Maybe we’ve never had anyone who has truly cared enough to listen. Maybe our trust has been broken in the past and we don’t want to bring on that pain again. The pain of betrayal can be worse than the pain of isolation.

No matter how long it’s been, we have to hold on. In the darkest moments in the pit, when the wilderness of loneliness is bearing down, 24 hours can make all the difference. We can’t give up. We have to see what could happen. To see what could change. To cry out to God like never before and give Him a chance to answer. Please hear my heart on this. I’m not trying to pretend that calling on God makes everything “poof” better as if He’s a fairy god-mother with a magic wand. But what I know from my agonizing days and weeks and months in the wilderness of loneliness is that we have to reach out to someone. And God truly is waiting for us to choose Him.

I can’t say how God will answer you. I can’t say how He will answer me. God doesn’t follow a script. There’s no “if–then” matrix He turns to. It’s always different. But He always responds. I just wish I knew how to expect it. To be honest, even now I struggle with periods of intense emotions when I don’t see God showing up. I cry out and feel alone. “Where are you, God? Please break Your silence. I’m desperate!”

And every time, if I’ll hold on, if I’ll continue to seek Him, if I’ll reach out and break the chains of isolation by asking others to pray for me, I can look back and see that God answered. He was with me all along. Even in the darkest hours. Then in the aftermath, as I nurse my wounds and regret how I reacted, God lovingly shows me my lack of trust in Him. And He forgives me.

Each time I learn more about how to stand firm in my trust.

More than anything, God wants us to love Him with the same passionate love He has for us. And that means He wants us to turn to Him in the wilderness of loneliness. He will never let go. He will always be ready with open arms when we turn back. He is worthy of our trust. Even when we can’t see through the darkness.

When we’re caught in the wilderness of loneliness, God wants us to break free and experience life. But we can’t do that on our own. We need God. And we need others. Don’t let fear of betrayal or the lies of the past prevent you from reaching out. To God and to a trusted friend. We may not want to reach out. We may not feel like we should have to. But we need to reach out anyway. And once we have a friend that will help us, we need to promise to call them next time we start heading back into the wilderness.

Today is the day to take a step out of the wilderness. Together.

Those who know You, Lord, will trust You; You do not abandon anyone who comes to You.” Psalm 9:10 (GNT)

May I pray?

Lord, I ask a special blessing today for those struggling in the wilderness of loneliness. It’s a dark place that can hold us hostage for a very long time. Thank you, God, that You are there, even when no one else is. Please let Your presence be known as we trust in You. And please, Lord, give us one person we can reach out to that will help us. Amen.

Q4U: Who will you promise to call when you’re in the wilderness of loneliness?

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