A Lesson in Loneliness

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Loneliness is a topic that resonates with many women, maybe especially to a preacher’s wife.  On Sundays, we are in the pew alone, getting ready for services alone, and dealing with the kids alone. At all hours of the day and night, our on-call husband may be pulled away, and we may go to bed alone, again. 

If you are a young mom like me, loneliness might also creep into your life because it seems we are constantly being pulled away to feed our babies or admonish our older children to behave differently or do this or do that, and it’s always something only mom can do. 

Both of these scenarios caught up to me on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago. I so desperately wanted and needed to be in worship. I wanted to be able to focus and able to pour my heart out to God, but there was a need from one of my littles and I was the only parent available. So, off we marched to the nursery – alone. And I felt discouraged because instead of being able to draw strength from my brothers and sisters, I was alone. Then, it was time for communion. And I wasn’t with everyone; I was going to be alone. And this feeling of loneliness just overwhelmed me. But, as God often does, I was given a lesson in loneliness that I won’t soon forget. 

Just before the Lord’s Supper was to begin, we sang a song (the congregation all together and me, alone in the nursery.) It was a song I had sung many, many times; this time, though, the words hit me like a ton of bricks. 

Tis midnight; and on Olive’s brow
the star is dimmed that lately shone:
’tis midnight; in the garden now
the suff’ring Savior prays alone.

Tis midnight; and, from all removed,
Emmanuel wrestles lone with fears:
e’en the disciple that he loved
heeds not his Master’s grief and tears.

‘Tis midnight; and, for others’ guilt,
the Man of Sorrows weeps in blood:
yet he that hath in anguish knelt
is not forsaken by his God.

‘Tis midnight; from the heav’nly plains
is borne the song that angels know:
unheard by mortals are the strains
that sweetly soothe the Savior’s woe. [1]

What a hymn, right?! 

While I was feeling stressed and pushed to my limit and lonely because I was being called away to serve in a different capacity, I really wasn’t alone. My Savior promised to never leave me or forsake me. God promised I would never be alone. Those promises weren’t given to Jesus, though. Instead, He had to go to the cross alone. He was forsaken by His friends. From the cross, He cried out about being forsaken by His Father, too. And it was all because of my sin. 

When I am feeling lonely (and it will no doubt happen many more times), I hope I will have the wherewithal to think of this hymn and remember what all Jesus endured for me. It wasn’t just the cross – though that would have surely been enough. It wasn’t just the scourging. It wasn’t just the mocking. It wasn’t just betrayal. It wasn’t just humiliation. He endured loneliness, too. For me. And then He turned around and promised He’d never, ever leave me – the one who put Him through all of this in the first place. 

I am so thankful for my God and His promises. I am so thankful for my Advocate and Friend who will never, ever leave. 

[1] “Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow” by William B. Tappan