In this coming week’s Epistle Reading, Paul tells Timothy, “At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me.” Many of us equate loneliness with desertion. Doesn’t anyone care about me? Don’t the Ministers care about how I feel? Why doesn’t my husband understand my grief? Where is God? As time goes on, one’s loneliness can begin to affect how one feels about oneself. Perhaps I really am worthless. Maybe everyone is right; it’s not fun to be around me. We’ll talk more about Paul’s letter this Sunday.
Loneliness is not an indicator of one’s negative value, as a matter of fact; loneliness can actually be a good sign. Most people who begin to go to deeper levels of spirituality experience a pervasive loneliness. As they grow closer to God, sometimes they may even feel that God is farther away. The examples in the Bible of this are generally referred to as "desert experiences"...Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by the devil...or on the cross when the Son of God cries out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Tough words aren't they? It is in the loneliness that God draws us away from every other source of strength...even away from ourselves, so that we rely only on him. The prophets in the OT always went into the desert to be with God and it would be weeks before God spoke to them...they would be hungry, thirsty, close to death and then God would send a raven with some food, our some rain to refresh and when the prophet was totally reliant on God, God would speak. Sometimes the “desertion” by your friends and family can be the best thing; to allow you the space to seek after God in your loneliness.