Loneliness. We all suffer from it sometimes. During this age of COVID-19, some people are encountering loneliness more than ever before as social distancing seems to push us all farther and farther apart. Here are six Bible passages to review when loneliness tries to overtake you.
#1 Luke 17:20-21 “One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, ‘When will the Kingdom of God come?’ Jesus replied, ‘The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.'”
What beautiful words. Read them again: “The Kingdom of God is already among you.” In context, Jesus is referring to Himself. From a broader perspective, believers carry the Holy Spirit within us (1 John 4:13) and, thus, we represent both the Temple and the Kingdom of God. However, God is not solely within us. . . .
#2 Jeremiah 23:24 “‘Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?’ says the LORD.”
God is everywhere at all times. Whether you believe or not, you are literally surrounded by God.
#3 1 John 4:16 “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”
Who is God? God is Love, so you are surrounded by love.
#4 Psalm 147:3-5 “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!”
Who is God? God is the Healer. God is the Creator of all things, including the stars. The stars are for everyone. He put them there for all to see, including you.
Stop. Breathe. Feel Him. He is with you.
God is Holy. Yet, we are full of sin. How, then, can He be with us?
#5 Hebrews 10:10 “For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”
Yes, the Kingdom of God is already among us. . . .
#6 Matthew 25:37-40, 44-45 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'”
No, you are not alone. Be the person that helps, not the one who looks the other way.
With thanks to Dr. B., whose wise words inspired today’s post.
When people ask the question “Why?” to God, whether it is, “Why is there evil?” “Why didn’t You answer this prayer?” “Why did You allow this?” or “Why did they die?” an approach might reference we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8), His thoughts are higher (Isaiah 55:9), and God’s response to Job (Job 41:11). That is certainly one method to understanding the questions we have of God.
Another approach says to look to God’s character. Of course, we read the Word to understand who He is and what His patterns are – His character. No matter how much we question Him, He is Love, He is Truth, and He is Light.
I want to highlight one such pattern – how each time someone in the Bible lost something, there was a gain. We could look at Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43) or Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15) – they lost a life or lost an illness (were healed). I want to focus on Lazarus.
“A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, ‘Lord, your dear friend is very sick.’ But when Jesus heard about it he said, ‘Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.’ So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.” John 11:1-6
Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, yet, when there was a cry for Him to come because Lazarus was sick, He did not answer that cry. He did not come. At least it appeared He did not answer, because the people making the cry wanted Jesus to answer, “I am coming now.”
We offer up many prayers, daily, about all kinds of things. I do believe that we have hopes of how He will answer our prayers or we might think we already have the best answers: “I have put a lot of thought into the matter, Lord. I saved You the trouble – here is the answer to my prayer.”
Even the Son of God prayed, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42). So, if the Almighty Son of God submitted to the Father when He prayed, how much more shall we?
I am not suggesting it is wrong to ask for specific things, but, rather, that whatever we pray, before we say “In Jesus’ name, we pray,” add in “Thy will be done” and work hard to mean it.
The sisters of Lazarus wanted Jesus to come right away. They thought He could heal him, like He had so many others. However, He failed to answer the way they wanted and expected. Instead, He let two days pass before making the journey.
“Then [Jesus] said, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.’ The disciples said, ‘Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!’ They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. So he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.'” John 11:11-15
Jesus had a reason, He always has a reason. And if we claim to believe in all of Scripture, then we believe all the verses that talk about how much He loves us and how all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).
We also would claim to believe Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
Out of a loss, God brings a gain. We may not see it right away or even this side of Heaven, but trust His character, trust who He is.
“‘Where have you put him?’ [Jesus] asked them. They told him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, ‘See how much he loved him!’ But some said, ‘This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?’ Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. ‘Roll the stone aside,’ Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, ‘Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.’ Jesus responded, ‘Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?'” John 11:34-40
Jesus shows up after Lazarus has been dead for days. The sisters, who earlier had been so eager for Jesus to heal their brother, now discouraged Him – Lord, the smell.
Jesus was undaunted by a stench, He had bigger things in mind – that the glory of God Almighty would be shown. No smell was going to stop Him from glorifying God.
As we go through life, there will be stenches we must endure in seasons where God is waiting for the right time for Him to receive the glory. Your time of stench in the tomb may be four days, it may be four years. However, trust in these things:.
Jesus knows exactly where you are. He has not forgotten about you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Sometimes, you need to be still and ask Him to help you deal with the stench while He is waiting on the right time. (Psalm 46:10)
Know that He is at work while you are working through the stench. (Isaiah 43:15-19)
Know that when He is ready to release you, there will be an incredible gain. (John 10:10)
Never take your eyes off Jesus, never stop believing in Him, never stop trusting Him – through loss of freedom due to a quarantine or loss of a job or loss of your retirement because of the stock market – never stop trusting Him.
When you waiver, read the Bible. See His character, His heart, and His patterns – when there is a loss, He provides a gain.
“So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.’ Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, ‘Unwrap him and let him go!’ Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.” John 11:41-45
Everyone thought Lazarus was dead – they buried the man. He began to stink. Then, Jesus showed up, and the loss became a gain – a life was restored better than before and most important, God was glorified. People came to know God’s character through Lazarus’ death and Jesus’ miracle of bringing life to where death reigned. That is His pattern. Cling to who He is, not what is going on around you.
During these chaotic times, when I feel overwhelmed with bad news, I listen to “It Is Well (With My Soul).” Because you know what, brothers and sisters, it is well. Jesus Christ holds our very souls, so it is well.
So many prayers for healing. She was so young. Maybe I did not pray enough. Maybe I did not pray the right way.
I have heard non-believers say, “How can a loving God allow that?”
When you are crushed and cannot breathe, yet the hits keep coming, believers ask that, too. I do.
I begged Jesus through sobs of pain. Crying out, “Please help, Jesus. Please.”
I watched her take her last breaths while in pain.
I prayed for her to be healed, but I also know that we are to pray for His will above all else. So, I dutifully prayed, “Father, please heal her. If that is not Your will, then please allow her to pass peacefully in her sleep.”
That is not how it happened. It was not peaceful or painless.
If another believer were to ask me, “How can a loving God allow that?” I would quote Isaiah 55:9: “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
I would also say that He loves us more than we can understand, so there must have been worse things ahead. Worse pain, things unbearable to see. So, He called her home before things reached that point.
Haven’t we been through enough? So much death and pain in such a short time, so many loved ones gone despite prayers and fasting. Why God, why do we now have to go through this, too? We are still recovering from the last tragedy. The last wounds are still raw.
“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I believe Scriptures. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He died for my sins. So, I read this verse and know it to be true. But God, how weak do I need to be?
The pain is more than I can bear, Lord.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18
I seek You. Why am I seeking, though? I have the Holy Spirit. You are already right here with me. Help me to feel You. I need You, Lord. I need to remember that I am not like King Saul.
“Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.” 1 Samuel 16:14
You will not remove Your Holy Spirit from me.
“God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 5:5
I do not have to fear like King David, when he saw the Spirit removed from Saul and penned Psalm 51.
“Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:11-12
While this pain is unbearable, I cannot let my heart doubt You or Your love.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverb 4:23
My own heart works against me.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9
So, where do I go from here? I am to guard my heart, which is desperately wicked, but I cannot guard it properly.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
But because I believe Jesus is the Son of God, I have His peace that is beyond understanding. I have peace when I should not. I have peace when the world says, “How can a loving God allow this?”
The answer is, I do not know. I may never know this side of Heaven. But I know God is love (1 John 4:16).
I also know I am not to focus on such thoughts, nor allow my heart to ruminate on such things.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8
It is not easy. Pain crushes. Feeling like God let you down crushes.
I do not believe that time heals all wounds. Instead, I believe that you find your new normal. Through Jesus, you find the way to move forward with the hole in your heart and determine your new normal.
Why did God let me down? I don’t know that He did. I know my heart is telling me that, but my heart can be wicked.
No, I cannot guard my heart. I need Jesus for that. We must stay anchored to Him for peace and joy that is beyond understanding.
“Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.”
If it takes 40+ boxes to pack a room that contains your stuff, you have a problem. It will be okay. Jesus will help you.
All humans make mistakes. If you take a wrong turn, admit your mistake, fix it, and get back on Jesus’s course.
Be careful as to who and what you give your energy.
Accept help from people. Even ask for it. This is one way Jesus sends you gifts.
Never be so busy that you don’t notice the gifts Jesus provides you every day.
Comfortable silence is better than a blaring TV.
No more soda for you. Ever.
Stand in nature and breathe deeply.
Look for signs of Him, for He is everywhere.
If you don’t love someone, then don’t marry her or him. Even if you think this person is the only one who will ever love you. Maybe especially then.
If you don’t want to be with someone more than you want to be alone, then don’t marry her or him.
Never give up who you really are for another person. Be true to yourself.
If you want to go on a mission trip to feed hungry children, and someone has a problem with that, you need to seriously take a look at why that person is in your life.
If someone is jealous of time you are spending with your ill mom, that is not a good sign.
If someone doesn’t like scripture quotes, that is not a good sign.
You can give someone a Bible. Even two of them. But you can’t make her or him read it.
Never become so dependent on someone that you can’t drive yourself wherever you need to go and do what you need to do.
Sex should not be the driver for your relationship.
Your true love doesn’t walk away from you when you are obviously in need. She or he holds you until you are okay.
If your significant other has more than two TVs, run.
If your significant other spends more time on Amazon than with you, run. Incidentally, if this same person removes you from her or his Amazon Prime account, you know it’s over. Celebrate.
If the Amazon delivery driver knows how to get your place without directions, you might have a problem.
If your significant other won’t pray with you, despite you asking, flee.
If your significant other rushes to get the mail first each day, she or he may be hiding something.
If you have shared with your significant other how you receive love, and she or he doesn’t care, flee.
Don’t engage with people who play games with your emotions – silent treatment, cold shoulder, etc. Instead, play with those who bring you joy (or pain, if that’s your thing as a consensual act within a marriage).
If you are disappointed when someone comes home after being away, this is not your true love.
If you are excited to leave someone, this is not your true love.
If you hold someone for 15 minutes with no words needed after being apart, she or he is your true love.
If you are filled with joy just to stand next to someone, then that is where you should spend your time.
If someone in your life takes time to analyze your anxiety and comes up with methods to overcome it, this person deeply loves you. Cherish her or him.
If you secretly love someone, tell her or him. Don’t just imply you love her. Tell her. If she is worth your love, she will at minimum be flattered, and she may surprise you with her own words.
If you have never laid on the beach, lay on it with your true love.
Kiss your true love as if it is the last time, every time.
Never leave things unspoken or unresolved. Always make sure you say “I love you” to those you do.
Yes, love being with people, but be able to function even if you miss them.
Always be involved in your finances. Don’t give this up to anyone else. Know what is going on with God’s money.
Never have a credit card balance. Ever. If you already have them, stop charging, and start paying them down.
Where your money goes is where your heart is.
If you have Amazon, drop Prime. Pay for your shipping. You will buy less.
Run your credit report.
If you are checking to see if you have enough room on your credit card to afford an item, you can’t afford it.
Never let someone else use your credit cards.
Better yet, have no credit cards at all.
If the pastor is inspired by Jesus, no one cares if the choir is out of tune.
If the pastor doesn’t say “turn in your Bible to ….” so that you can read along and understand for yourself, then run.
Spend in depth time with Jesus alone.
Create a personal relationship with Jesus. Read and pray daily.
Kneel and pray with your true love. Every day.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6).
Say what you mean. “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No'” (Matthew 5:37).
“God is love” (1 John 4:16). If you don’t have God, you don’t have love.
“Love” has become an overused word. Oh we love everything these days. Movies and phones and snacks, whatever. You name it, there’s someone out there who loves it.
Has “love,” then, lost all meaning? I experience such deep feelings for my true love that the word has seemed inadequate. For months, I searched in vain for a new, more descriptive word to express my feelings for her.
As always, scripture held the answer:
“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” 1 John 4:16
God is love. Love is God. Though we might apply it incorrectly to inanimate objects, there is no better word to be found than “love” to describe the intense emotion that binds one heart to another – no matter if it is love for Jesus, your mom, your kids, your true love, or your best friend.
A love rooted in Jesus is pure and strong. And why wouldn’t it be? For He is not only the source of love, He is love. He also showed us how to love. For who could love more than the One who sacrificed Himself so that our sins would be forgiven and we could live with Him for eternity?
Please bless those reading these words and show them examples of Your love in their lives. May they love You and others as intensely as You love us. If they do not already know You, may You lead them to salvation.
In my first week of being saved, back in June, my Bible Study Partner (BSP) instructed me to read Romans 8 repeatedly, especially verses 38 and 39. I hold these verses close to my heart.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today or our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
The power of these two verses still amazes me. We know that God is omnipresent – He exists everywhere at once. My pastor recently pointed out that God is not more in one place than another. He is just as much on Mars as He is in the holiest church on Earth.
This also means that God is just as much in the darkest, seediest places on Earth, too. He is constantly with all of us. He is with us when we are at our best, and He is with us when we are at our worst. No matter what sin we commit, He is still there. God is love, so we are always surrounded by love.
Take a moment to think about that. No matter how alone you may feel. No matter how dark the world may seem, you are constantly surrounded by love, because you are surrounded by God.
God is everywhere – which means He is even inside you. You are filled with His love at any given moment. Close your eyes and feel Him. Feel His love for you and for all of His creations.
Nothing can take His love away from you. Nothing. No one. He manifests that love in many ways, the most enduring of which was the gift of His only son, Jesus, to the world so that He could die for our sins and we might have everlasting life.
Not only does God exist in all places at once, He also exists in all times at once. That concept may be hard for us to understand, but the end result is He has always loved you, He loves you now, and He always will love you. Nothing can destroy this. No action you take. No action anyone else takes. His love for you is eternal. That is why He wants you to have eternal life, to live in the Perfect Place, Heaven, with Him. That is why He sent His son. For you. His love for you is that vast.
To accept that eternal gift of life, there is one action you must take, though. There is one thing you must do, friend. You must accept Jesus Christ in your heart as your savior (John 3:16). That’s it. If you do not already walk with Jesus, I pray that you take a moment to consider opening your heart to Him. No, you are not perfect. That is why He came here, after all. He came here for you. Let Him in. He is already with you. He always has been. Just open your heart. Your life will change.
“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.” 1 John 4:16-19
Having established that we are constantly surrounded and filled with God’s love, our next step is to trust that love, trust God. I admit, I still struggle with this one. There are certain events in my life that I want to happen sooner than later. However, I must allow His plan for me to unfold at His speed, not mine. This is difficult for me. I am rationally aware that He knows better than me. After all, He is omniscient – all-knowing. I am not always rational, though. Especially when I can’t see the path forward.
Of course, He sees the path. He makes the path. He is the path forward. When something seems impossible to me, I try to remember that it surely is less difficult than creating the entire universe. Nothing is impossible for Him, and I must trust Him.
God is love, and God is perfect, so of course God’s love for us is perfect. By obeying God, by “being Jesus” here on Earth, even our own love – for ourselves, for others, for God – can move towards perfection.
A story for another day, but for years I allowed fear to control me. It consumed me, and I did not even realize it most of the time. The opposite of fear is love. Let love control you, not fear.
You are never alone. Jesus is with you. You are always loved. Always.
Thank you for reading. May God bless you in 2019 as He has blessed me in 2018, for I have never before experienced such joy.