I Am Not Alone

I Am Not Alone

How many friends or followers do you have on social media? How connected are you really to those friends? I moved a lot in my life—4 elementary schools, 3 high schools, 3 countries, 5 states and 17 cities—so for me it’s wonderful to have contact with family and friends I’d never otherwise see. While it’s fun to have these connections, for many people it has become a substitute for real relationships. People may click the “care” button when we share a problem, but that momentary acknowledgment we may feel from their response doesn’t address the isolation we may feel in our distress and pain. In fact, the rise in rates of anxiety, depression, drug use, and suicide show that the isolation in this ultra-connected culture is epidemic.

This, however, is not merely a cultural issue as much as it is the result of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. As soon as we sinned we began to hide and isolate ourselves. Adam and Eve hid from God. Adam went on to blame God for giving him “that woman,” and blame “that woman” for leading him astray. Adam cut himself off from the only two beings he was designed to relate to, and mankind have been following suit ever since, then wondering why we feel so alone.

We each carry around in us a sense of isolation which we try to fill with relationships, achievements, and distractions of all sorts. People try to “fit in” by going along with the crowd or joining the rebels who are going against the crowd. It’s particularly evident in the tweens and teens who follow the latest social media trends, and even the epidemic of transgenderism in middle school-aged girls, but the desire to fit in is something that is experienced at all ages. And when we don’t fit in, we try to figure out why. Generally, we land on some issue(s) that we think takes us out of the mainstream. My dad was a pastor, and I was/am an outspoken Christian, and I was the new kid in school a lot. So, I often blamed that for not being part of the “in crowd.” My kids were Army brats raised largely overseas, homeschoolers, Christians, and frequently the newbies, so they had that to blame. Other people blame their size (too short/tall, thin/heavy), their intelligence (too smart/dumb), their attractiveness or lack thereof (who remembers the commercial, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”?). But whatever external factor we select, the reality is that isolation is a spiritual condition that is the status of our humanity after the fall (“your sins have separated you from God”), and it is only by confronting it in relationship to God that we can ever break free and find healing and wholeness there.

Even Jesus, the perfect Man, experienced the isolation common to the human experience. While He was close to His mother, she didn’t really understand Him. His disciples lived with Him for 3 years, saw Him work, heard His personal instruction, saw His heart, yet they didn’t get Him either. In His hours of the most need of their prayer support and encouragement, they failed Him, fell asleep, betray, denied, and abandoned Him. Despite His deep connection with the Father, He even experienced the sense of God’s abandonment, as He bore our sins on the cross. So, Jesus knows intimately what it is like for us to feel alone, misunderstood, abandoned, and even betrayed by those who were supposed to be closest to us. In every way that we are, Jesus was tempted and tried, yet without sin.

In their excellent book, The Cross Before Me (I can’t recommend this book enough!!!), Wilbourne and Gregor say, “Hebrews 2:9 tells us that Jesus tasted death for all. Those who suffer can know that God is not a distant, dispassionate observer, but a God who endured suffering and death himself. The cross is God’s solidarity with human suffering…When we are in the darkest nights of suffering, when we feel forsaken by God, we can know that we are not alone. Jesus has experience that Godforsakenness on the cross. At the cross Jesus suffered the separation of the Father from Son. Because of the cross, God knows the loss of a son. And the Son knows the suffering of separation from a father as well as the experience of the absence of God and the silence of God. Jesus has experienced this firsthand and is with us in this experience.”

Not only can we rest in the comfort that Jesus knows what it is like to be isolated, even from God, but that because of His atoning death and triumphant resurrection and ascension, when we trust in Him we are united with Him forever: He is in us and we in Him. We are no longer alone. The God who says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” tells us more than 130 times in Scripture that He is with us. He is there, but we must believe it, turn to Him and experience His with-ness. This is a process, but we have His promise that if we would draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. As we begin to understand and experience our union with Him, we will begin to see that we are truly not alone.