Heart Cry by Pastor Scott
Back in 2017, my wife and I spent the year apart. I was helping a church in Regina and Miriam’s family obligations held her here. So, we took a deep breath, trusted God’s leading and agreed to a commuting arrangement where I was home 3 days each month. I spent the rest of my time 1,700 km away. The year felt long, but God was kind to us in both provinces. It was the first time in my living that I was away from loved ones for an extended season. It became my laboratory of what loneliness is and does. Here’s what I found.
Loneliness is not simply the state of being alone. It is a sense of missing - a state of longing for who or what you do not have. At first, it’s an itch - bothersome but tolerable. It can grow into an ache - a displacement that feels like the weight of being lost. Beyond recognizing the feelings of loneliness, I’ve gleaned helps to address it. I learned that there are no substitutes that satisfy. No one and no thing can take the place of what you are missing. I found that distractions are no remedy. Keeping busy or occupied may help in the moment, but they do not relieve. I also discovered that solitary is not terminal. Loneliness may be uncomfortable but it is not crippling. In fact there is wisdom and goodness in it.
I am struck by the number of times God walks His saints through lonely territory. For Moses, there was a 40 year gap between his Egyptian upbringing and a return home as Israel’s leader. Joseph must have cried out repeatedly from his dungeon for home and family faces. David was chased from his familiar by the anger of Saul. Jesus spent at least 40 days alone and tasted the depth of isolation through Gethsemane and Calvary. If God nudges us into lonely spaces, there must be a reason. What good can loneliness do for us?
Loneliness squeezes our deep desires to the surface. All of life’s lint gets brushed away in loneliness. You will know what matters after a season of it. That applies to our spiritual path as well. We walk this earth with perpetual longing. Read Psalm 63 and hear the cry of a soul who misses the Beloved. God is never absent, but He remains just beyond our grasp. He is always one step in front of us, calling, inviting. The space between creates desire, having but wanting more - a state of spiritual longing. It is not a fault, but a state to endure. It is good to remember how to respond to it. There are no substitutes. No one or no thing can replace Him. Distractions are no answer. Entertainment, work, leisure, parties, not even Church can fill the void. Spiritual loneliness is not to be solved, but has to be experienced. It pulls us in His direction. And while it may feel uncomfortable, it is not terminal. The hungers of heart lead us to life.