Alone – Part Two
October 1, 2012
“The Benediction Project”
This is the second half of my previous piece on being alone. Part One was posted on September 5, 2012. In the first part I considered the fact that, even though we very much need people in our lives to live well, each of us must learn to walk through life alone.
This then, still leaves us with the question of what it means to walk alone in this world. To me, it means that when the realities of life face me I need to know what it is, within my own mind and spirit, to consciously, obediently and confidently trust in the perfect power, love, compassion and wisdom of our merciful Lord.
It means that when you lie on your sick bed, pray for your lost child or friend, ask God for wisdom to make the coming difficult decision, seek to recover from the painful news you just received, or face a future that looks to your natural self as only bleak, bleaker and bleakest, you are in harmony with your indwelling Counselor, resting quietly in his very personal concern to do or allow only those things that are for your eternal benefit. It also means that, with the confidence described above, you go about your responsibilities, one at a time, doing what you are able to do each day and leaving the rest in God’s hands.
The lines above present a glowing picture of the soul at rest in God. I believe earnestly that such a life is both desirable and attainable for every child of God. I believe just as earnestly, by experience (mine, that of others I’ve known, and that of biblical characters and other historical figures), that such godly composure and trust is not easily attained. In fact, it is impossible to live this way by our own strength and will power.
Furthermore, no one else on earth can give you the necessary moral courage you will need, no matter how much others pray for you, read scripture to you, hold you, play music for you, or assist you in essential ways. All of these helps are important—very much so—yet no one but God himself can infuse into your total being the assurance that he does all things well for you, and always will, even as you walk confidently over the hills and through the valleys of life.
Why is it, then, that some of God’s children face their aloneness with a deep trust in God (although they may experience great suffering and tears), while others literally worry themselves sick. The latter may wave their arms and yell in panic or anger, searching for someone to blame or demanding that someone solve the problem for them. Why the difference?
Perhaps my brief account will be helpful. In my mid-fifties I was struggling with both serious heart difficulties and personal career concerns. In the midst of these trials it came to me: “I am alone; no one can solve these problems for me; no one can fully understand me nor really feel my pain.” I had to face the realities, try to understand the factors involved, accept my situation, and turn my concerns over to God every day, sometimes many times a day. I had plenty of friends, and had never (in my memory) felt lonely, but this sense of aloneness (which is, of course, different from loneliness) added a major new dimension to my life.
In addition to putting one foot in front of the other and doing my daily work as best I could, I tried to keep in mind three of my favorite scripture passages. If I was able to (sometimes I was not) I called these to mind deliberately and recited them to myself, with an attitude of trust, hope, and obedience to what God was saying to my heart through these remarkable words.
One text is from the prophet Isaiah: “You will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (26:3).
The second is in Philippians, where the apostle Paul wrote from prison: “I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me” (4:3).
The third portion states that God “will not let you be tested beyond what you can bear. But when you are tested he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (I Corinthians 10:13).
I trust that, for all of us, the stark truth of our human aloneness in this world will lead us to a quiet confidence and peace as we live our lives in this world, resting in the very being of God and supported by the presence of even one or two fellow pilgrims, because Jesus said he will be there—in our very midst (Matthew 18:20).