“I feel so very alone, like completely alone. It’s as though there’s a labyrinth of walls around me and I am stuck in the very middle, and no one is able to reach me. I am so lonely and when I cry out to God He isn’t there, I feel so disappointed in Him…”
This was the exasperated confession of a person very near and dear to my heart.
I remember feeling exactly like my younger friend, alone and wondering where in the world the Lord was when I needed Him so desperately? I understood those walls. I’d felt trapped and alone behind structures invisible to the naked eye but insurmountable to anyone trying to get into my heart.
I listened intently as my friend poured out so much of the hurt, doubt and fear that had their heart held captive.
I remembered hearing for the first time how satan loves to make us feel alone because in our loneliness he can lead us into despair. Despair is defined “the complete loss and absence of hope.” And without hope many see no point in going on in their walk of faith. After all, what’s the point if there is only hardship and one trial after another? If God is nowhere to be found when you are in the thick of it and need Him most, then why bother?
Following Christ IS hard sometimes, hard and lonely.
I took a deep breath and spoke with all the authority I felt in my many years of walking with Jesus, “You aren’t alone. You’re never alone. Your loving Father is ALWAYS with you. Always.”
It was in that moment I realized something, I had come full circle. The Lord had put me through an agonizing refining process, one I thought would surely kill me but instead brought me to this place of deep assurance. I felt sure as I spoke those words of encouragement to my friend, because they were more than just words to me; I had lived them.
It’s interesting because even as I write this a situation has come up that has made me feel so very alone. As I type these words and send them out into social media infinity the Lord is shining a bright light on my heart, checking my motives. Feeling lonely is tough for my personality type and what I WANT to do is run from how it feels, but what I am GOING to do is the “next thing.”
What does that mean?
It means I am going to get on with my day. My momma used to give me good advice when I was feeling down, she would say, “you need to get busy, Sandi.” I used to think that was no way to live, like I was avoiding the problem if I just “got busy” and didn’t deal with it. I’ve since learned the wisdom in praying, trusting, filling my mind with good things and then getting busy.
I’ve also learned another lesson of great value.
You can’t trust your feelings.
I know, I know. That is not a popular sentiment in our culture where everything revolves around how we “feel.” Most of the time our feelings change with circumstances. Or maybe they’ll alter depending upon how much rest we’ve had or maybe we feel better or worse after we’ve eaten or are more comfortable. Feelings are not always reliable.
The Bible tells us not to trust our “hearts” because it is deceitful above all things.*
I used to wonder what that meant, but now I think I know. In my own very untheological opinion, I believe even scripture is telling me my feelings are fickle and subject to change like the weather. One day I wake up feeling good about life and I am unstoppable, the next day I wake up feeling down and life seems so difficult. Nothing’s changed except my feelings, and that changes everything.
It’s important we learn to put those “feelings” in their proper place, under God’s authority.
How do you do that?
By reading the Bible, quoting scripture and reminding yourself of the facts: you are loved, highly treasured and a child of the King. It certainly doesn’t mean you won’t have bad days or seasons, but in doing this, you will nurture hope and hope literally changes the way we view our circumstances. It helps us cope when all we can see are hard, lonely days ahead. It gives loneliness purpose and reminds us we are being shaped, strengthened and growing deeper in our faith and maturity. All of these qualities make our life better, richer and more meaningful.
I was able to remind my friend Christ was right there in their invisible labyrinth and He would be the one to tear down the walls that felt so real. Their job was to get into scripture and keep reminding themselves of His truth.
And to get busy.
Friends may leave.
I remember how it feels to be so young in my relationship with Jesus. I wanted so badly to understand, to believe to get it right. I see now, this many years in, that it takes every single one of those lonely days, every one of those heartaches, every trial, every tear, it takes all you’ve got to grow a faith that’s mature and to have a relationship you can count on when all others seem to vanish.
It takes work, guts and a lifetime.
Please hear me right here, HE IS WORTH IT.
You will never regret following Jesus.
If you are a young adult or young in your faith, don’t be discouraged when life falls apart and you find yourself wondering where God went. And don’t be disheartened if you don’t handle tough times with the gallant faith you see in the seasoned Christians around you. And when you feel desperately alone, take courage, God is up to something and I can tell you from personal experience, it will be for your good.
And one day when you’re a little older and a little wiser, you’ll be so thankful for each and every day you walked with the Lord. You’ll start to see the how all these things really did work together for your good. And then, perhaps, you’ll have your own conversation with someone younger who needs to hear what you’ve been through and why you wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
And you’ll get busy telling them your story.
*Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Isaiah 43:1-5 “Do not be afraid. I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. For I am the Lord, your God. … because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor, do not be afraid—I am with you!”