Monday, January 16, 2017

Hope In the Face of Loneliness

Turn to me
 and be
 gracious to me,
 for I am
 lonely and afflicted.

 Psalm 25:16

Earlier, as I sat down to write, I heard a terrible squawking coming from our back deck. I immediately recognized the sound—a baby bird caught by a kitty. I rushed to the door. One yellow and white kitten and one baby male cardinal, just testing his wings, wrestled as several kittens looked on. I rescued the bird hoping he would survive. After several attempts to save him from certain death, the trauma became too much for him. I did not see any physical wounds. I think his little heart just gave out from the struggle.

Although I understand that it is critters doing what comes naturally, it always reminds me that too often people are treated like that poor cardinal. Picked on. Harassed. Afflicted. Left alone to survive the traumas foisted upon them by life’s circumstances; allowing loneliness to creep in and fill the cracks and crevices of a desolate, broken heart.

King David knew something about loneliness. Chased, hunted, slandered, and distressed on many occasions—some of his wounds were self-inflicted while others grew from the jealousy and rage of those who wanted him dead. Chosen by God and anointed king as a young boy, as a man, he ran for his life and hid in caves.[G1]  He lived a messy life. In Psalm 25:16 we read his cry to God, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”

The thing I love about King David is that no matter the cause of the mess, his own creation or an assault from another, he always knew where to run for help. Psalm 25 begins with these words, “In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.” He says it again in Psalm 86:4 and 143:8. When under attack and overwhelmed by loneliness, he knew that his hope lay in trusting God.

Loneliness arises from a myriad of situations. Friendlessness. Isolation. Estrangement. Seclusion. Companionlessness. Desertion. Abandonment. Death. These are only a few of the many causes of loneliness. You and I can be alone without being lonely—or in a crowded room and yet feel completely isolated from others.

Loneliness can happen when you feel deserted, disconnected, devoid of physical or emotional support from those you love. Emotional hurt or betrayal might cause you to withdraw from your network of family and friends, to build an imaginary wall around your heart, to determine you will never again be hurt; the beginning of an emotional downward spiral that can leave you, and those who love you, drowning in a pool of loss and fear.   

If you find yourself in a season of loneliness, what can you do?

1.      Remember that God is with you
2.      Pray –  ask God for help
3.      Read God’s Word – filled with encouragement, strength, hope
4.      Reach out to others. This will allow you to begin taking the focus off yourself

In Psalm 25:16 we find King David asking God not only for emotional compassion but for action. He wanted God to do something; turn to me, look at me, give attention to me and be gracious—have mercy, take pity, be kind to me.

Loneliness is a pain like no other pain. My sister and I sat holding our mother’s hands as she dropped her earthly rags and put on her royal robes in heaven. At that moment, we looked at each other and simultaneously spoke, “We are orphans!” Although we were together, each of us had an immediate sense of loneliness. But in those moments, God reminded us that He cares, Jesus understands, and He is our hope in the face of loneliness.

If you are struggling with loneliness, it is my prayer that you will begin to look outside yourself. Reach up to God. Reach in to begin your healing. Reach out to others. Allow yourself to find hope in the face of loneliness.

© Joyce Powell

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