The Remedy for Loneliness May be Closer than You Think…

     In my post Monday April 29th, you met a lone Joshua tree I observed in the desert, which ignited my imagination concerning loneliness. Loneliness, as social researcher, Brene’ Brown, reports is a malady during the times in which we live. [1]

     If you, like me, have experienced times when you felt all alone, you may find comfort in the story of an Old Testament prophet, Elijah, who also grappled with loneliness.

     The culture in which God placed the prophet to minister was wicked. It seemed the entire population had turned to worshiping the idol, Baal. Despite an amazing spiritual victory, Elijah became horribly despondent. His feelings of isolation deepened.[2]

     Last time I speculated that “God feels sad when we feel lonely.” Elijah’s story illustrates. Elijah was hiding alone in a cave when “the word of the Lord came to him.” Elijah poured his heart out to God:

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.[3]

     God listened and then, in a “gentle whisper,” spoke to the man who was dejected even though he had been obedient to do the important work he had been hand-picked by God to do.

     A compassionate God who saw the ‘big picture’ of Elijah’s circumstances assured him that he was not alone. He was not the only one who had refused to bend a knee to Baal. In fact, there were 7000 more believers, and God told Elijah how he could find them.

     Now, back to that lonely Joshua tree. As we came around a bend in the road, this scene greeted us.

     That lone Joshua tree wasn’t alone after all. A whole bunch of like trees—unique and in different stages of a Joshua tree’s life—were waiting just around the bend.

     Both Elijah’s and the Joshua tree’s realities encourage me and remind me there are others in my world who also feel alone, awaiting meaningful relationship. From Elijah’s example, I see:

  • God listens when I cry out. God isn’t intimidated by my personal pity parties and limited understanding.
  • God speaks, but I must listen carefully with my heart because God’s voice is often no louder than a “gentle whisper.”
  • I may be surprised to learn many other lonely people are just waiting for my friendship, a caring listening ear and encouraging word.
  • The remedy to my loneliness may be a lot closer than I think!

If you are struggling with a sense of loneliness, I hope the examples of Elijah and the lone Joshua tree will encourage you…

Sue Reeve

  1. 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndP1XDskXHY
  2. The fascinating account of Elijah can be found in 1 Kings 17-19. I encourage you to read it.
  3. See 1 Kings 19:9-18

A Lesson on Loneliness Learned in the Desert…

     Quite by accident, while working in my home office one recent morning, I landed on a Youtube video of Brene’ Brown delivering a sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.[1] She spoke of human and spiritual connections and made some fascinating observations about loneliness.

  • Brene’ Brown, a social work researcher, explained that as our culture has sorted more and more into factions, loneliness rates have grown. She declared, “The more sorted we are, the lonelier we are.”
  • The results of loneliness are severe. “Loneliness,” Brown reported, “is a greater predictor of early death than smoking, obesity and drinking.”

     Have you ever felt all alone in your personal pain or struggle?

     If you responded, “Yes!” then I’m in good company. Often, I’ve felt so very alone—even when surrounded by those I imagine care about me!

     On our recent vacation, while my husband and I drove many miles through the desert, I started thinking about loneliness after observing this lone Joshua tree. All by herself! Scorching sun beating down upon her day after day!

One lonely Joshua tree by Ron Reeve

Even during the nighttime, I can imagine, she may have felt like David who moaned,

     I lie awake,

          And am like a sparrow alone on the housetop.
               (Psalm 102:7 NKJV, emphasis mine)

     Loneliness always seems greater during nighttime hours.

          Sleep eludes.

               We worry.

                    We wonder.

                         We toss.

                              We turn.

     I imagine God feels sad when we feel lonely. God, in the very existence of Father, Son and Spirit is never alone. After God created man, the biblical creation account says God knew it wasn’t a good thing for man to be alone, and woman was created. Both man and woman were created in the very image of God, and each was designed to be in relationship with one another and with his and her Creator.

     In my next post, I’d like to re-visit the lonely Joshua tree and consider an antidote for loneliness.

Until then…

Sue Reeve

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndP1XDskXHY

‘Guesswork’ and Eternity…

     The white truck barreled straight toward our Subaru as we traveled on a two-lane desert highway somewhere between Phoenix and Las Vegas. The approaching truck seemed determined to pass several larger transport vehicles.

     Bright morning sun shone in such a way that the approaching truck blended in with the string of big rigs it was passing. From the vantage of my passenger seat, I was able to see what my husband didn’t. When I warned him, Ron’s quick reaction and ability to pull onto the shoulder kept us from what would have probably been a fatal accident.

     “Good teamwork,” I can joke in retrospect!

     Too flabbergasted by the close call to speak or even feel frightened, my husband broke our stunned silence observing, “All the guesswork of eternity would have been over!” His comment made me chuckle!

     Solomon declared that God has made everything beautiful in its time and furthermore, has planted eternity in the heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Ron and I have discussed eternity on many occasions—especially following the loss of loved ones. Without a single doubt, we have faith there’s life after death. The promise of eternity is real, and yet…

     Even though we realize death is inevitable, unknowns surrounding the transition from earthly to eternal existence remain a mystery.

     I suppose faith always involves a bit of “guesswork.”

     Ron’s comment following our near calamity reminded me that one of these days, all questions concerning eternal life after death will be answered. Not everyone who taught about Heaven will have been 100 percent accurate, but I doubt we’ll care much about that then.

     As I type these words, I realize I’m glad I’m able to type them and that our time to transition to eternity remains in the future. I am, however, grateful for the very real reminder that eternity has been planted in our hearts and may even arrive more quickly than we plan.

Scenes such as the red rocks around Sedona, AZ are spectacular, but I wasn’t crazy about the narrow, winding mountain roads!

I insisted Ron stop and take a picture of this funky little store we saw while passing through a small Nevada town.

Blessings on each day through which we are privileged to travel…

Sue Reeve