When did “alone” become such a badge of honor? I completely understood when a mom of tiny ones told me recently about her predicament. Her oldest is in school and her second child is being home-schooled. The three preschoolers in their home were all down for a nap and that second child wanted to talk to her…nonstop…during her only “break” in a hectic day. Yes, she desperately needs some minutes alone!
The problem comes when someone, whether because of personality or circumstances or location, finds themselves alone most or all of the time. That’s when the quietness that some so desperately need becomes a curse. It’s like a darkness of soul that gradually closes in. In the beginning of human history, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Genesis 2:18 (New Living Translation) While I know that some of you are introverts, even you will recognize that we really do need others in our lives. Here are a few examples:
- When I was recuperating from cancer surgery a few years ago, I needed others to care for my physical needs. Later, I needed others to pray for me and encourage me when the journey seemed hard.
- When you lost a loved one, you needed to know that people cared and that you didn’t have to grieve alone.
- If you have gone through a divorce, loneliness is one of the hardest things you had to face.
- At times you have a job that’s too big to handle by yourself (for me, this is almost every day!) and you need others who will help you. You reciprocate when they need you.
Even though encouragement is a gift which God gave me and which often helps others, I frequently find myself in need of it. When the journey seems long or the load gets heavy, I need to be encouraged. When fatigue sets in, I need encouragement. On the Thanksgiving following prostate cancer surgery, I ended up in the hospital with severe pain. It took heavy drugs to relieve the pain, but it was the presence and joy of two friends that encouraged me. “Everything will be all right,” their presence told me. In other words, the doctors could relieve the physical pain, but I would have been left alone if not for the care of those friends.
What kind of hope do you need? What is discouraging you and making life seem dark? How has weariness of body and sadness of spirit made life seem like an inescapable well of hopelessness? It’s time for you to be no longer alone! You need something we call “community.” That’s why we will spend the coming weeks focused on it. “40 Days of Community” begins this coming weekend at Stone Ridge Church. You will be so glad when you join in. Can’t make the first week? Catch the podcast!