When We Feel Alone
A few years ago in the young adults group we were helping with, a question was being asked around the table, “what is the hardest thing about living alone.” While I was never personally given this question, it sure got me remembering the years I had in camp ministry. While living alone and not having very many friends around is hard in an of itself, a ministry leadership position can make it even harder.
This is one of the costs of leadership that is not talked about often, and not nearly recognized and acknowledge by many people. It is the weight of responsibility, the burden of decision making, and one of the hardest aspects of leadership–at least in my experience.
The danger for a leader can be that they can also view their loneliness as being forgotten by others, which becomes a dangerous and unhealthy path for your mind and heart to follow. But, I think it’s one of the ways that the Enemy tries to discourage ministry leaders from persevering and holding the course.
It’s so easy to feel forgotten while in the midst of ministry. Forgotten by friends, family, or others who seemed interested for a while and then just became busy with life. At least that’s what we can tend to perceive, which really is an indication that perhaps our minds and attentions are too focused on ourselves and what we think we need.
Paul often mentions in his letters about being ‘deserted’ by other believers (2 Tim. 1:15) and of not always feeling supported. Even Christ Himself when we went to pray in the garden and asked His disciples to stay up with Him, was in essence abandoned/deserted by them. And while it was not easy or necessarily enjoyable for either of them, we don’t see them succumbing to self-pity or despair.
He is a faithful friend – a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
Dwight L. Moody
When I was going through a particularly trying and lonely year in camp ministry – during the ‘non-camp months’ – God reminded me again of who He was. I was visiting my parents and sitting in church with them, when the pastor talked about the verses in Isaiah 49. From verses 14 on, we see Zion saying, God why have you forsaken and forgotten us! To which He replies, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (vs. 15-16)
For someone that has used words written on her hands as a method for remembrance, hearing this reminder was refreshing to my soul. God uses the term ‘inscribed’ and ‘engraved’, which speak of a permanence, almost like He couldn’t forget about us, even if He wanted to!
In Psalm 139 we have a wonderful picture of how God knows us and has known us even more intimately than we can know or understand ourselves. In Matthew 6:26 He describes how He sees, cares for and provides for the birds of the air and then goes on to say that we are worth more than them! Luke 12:7 says “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” This is how we are known by the Almighty God, so maybe it doesn’t really matter if we are remembered by others or feel like we are alone.
When we come to seasons of loneliness in our lives, the question then really becomes, ‘is God enough’?
What is your answer?
Lonely? Give it to Jesus. The loneliness itself is material for sacrifice.