When You Feel Alone
There will come a day when, for any number of reasons that may or may not be known, you will not know where God is. He will not be felt. You will find yourself feeling alone, scared and helpless.
Psalm 38 (NASB95)
1 A Psalm of David, for a memorial.
O Lord, rebuke me not in Your wrath, And chasten me not in Your burning anger. 2 For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, And Your hand has pressed down on me. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4 For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. 5 My wounds grow foul and fester Because of my folly. 6 I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long. 7 For my loins are filled with burning, And there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. 10 My heart throbs, my strength fails me; And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me. 11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; And my kinsmen stand afar off. 12 Those who seek my life lay snares for me; And those who seek to injure me have threatened destruction, And they devise treachery all day long. 13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; And I am like a mute man who does not open his mouth. 14 Yes, I am like a man who does not hear, And in whose mouth are no arguments. 15 For I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God. 16 For I said, “May they not rejoice over me, Who, when my foot slips, would magnify themselves against me.” 17 For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me. 18 For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin. 19 But my enemies are vigorous and strong, And many are those who hate me wrongfully. 20 And those who repay evil for good, They oppose me, because I follow what is good. 21 Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, do not be far from me! 22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! 1
A friend once said that when he reads the Old Testament, much of which is written as a narrative, he often has to slow down and ask, "Why did God put this in the Bible?" This made a lot of sense to me because many times I just read the story for a part of what it is and forget that it is a story that can tell me something of God and His ways, or the ways of men or how the two relate.
The story of Samson starts out, "Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord," (Judges 13:1a NASB). Let's hit the highlights of Samson's life:
- Born to a barren mother after a visit from an angel of God (Judges 13)
- A Nazirite his entire life (Judges 13:3-5, Numbers 6)
- Fell in love with a foreigner (Judges 14:1-4)
- Ate honey from inside a dead lion (Judges 14:8,9)
- Killed 30 Philistines after they cheated at a riddle game (Judges 14:18-20)
- Set fire to Philistine harvest fields after they burned his wife and in laws (Judges 15:1-8)
- Killed 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a dead donkey (Judges 15:14-17)
- Called on God for a drink and God opened the earth with a spring of water for him (Judges 15:18-20)
- Was locked in Gaza with a prostitute, but tore off the gates and carried them away (Judges 16:1-3)
Stop here for a moment. This is an amazing life. Even among the Judges, this guy could stand out. He took on multitudes alone and performed great feats of strength, all the while showing a contempt for God and His control over his life. Everything was going for him. If he was angry, he took vengeance. If he felt randy, he took a woman. If he was hungry, he ate. Samson paid little heed to his miraculous birth or the guidelines set before him. He was to be a Nazirite, which did not allow eating or drinking any grape products or any contact with the dead, yet Samson ate honey from inside a dead lion and killed many Philistines with the jawbone of a dead donkey he found nearby. He fell in love with foreign women, another thing detested by God (Deuteronomy 7). Yet God was with him. Eventually Samson utterly spit in God's face, favoring a Philistine prostitute to the rule God had set for him.
Judges 16:17-21 (NASB95)
17 So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.” 18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all that is in his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. 19 She made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair. Then she began to afflict him, and his strength left him. 20 She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. 21 Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison. 2
There he worked, turning the griding wheel with what I imagine felt like no strength. His eyesight was gone. He had taken God's gift for granted and now he sat, rotting in an enemy prison: blind, weak, and alone.
Saul was the first king of Israel, the nation of the people of God, chosen by God himself. Let's see some of his life:
- He was the best looking man in Israel and taller than other men (1 Samuel 9:2)
- He was hand chosen by God to deliver Israel from the Philistines (1 Samuel 9:16)
- He was a victor in battle time and time again (1 Samuel 11:11-13, 1 Samuel 13:4 , 1 Samuel 15:7)
He, too, seemed to have it all: looks, power, the favor of God and victory in battle. Saul, too, began to do things his own way.
1 Samuel 15:17-29 (NASB95)
17 Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel, 18 and the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’ 19 “Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 20 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 “But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” 22 Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 23 “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.” 24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. 25 “Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship the Lord.” 26 But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. 28 So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you. 29 “Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” 3
Saul, much like Samson, decided his ways were better than God's. We was at the top of his game and felt he could do no wrong. He found out that God was giving his kingdom to another. He was doing the best things he could think of, but they did not please God. He must was rejected and alone.
David was Saul's successor to the throne of Israel. He, too, was chosen by God. He was an unexpected choice that has forever been named God's servant, doing that which was right (1 Kings 11:38). Here are some highlights of his life:
- Killed a lion and a bear while herding his father's sheep (1 Samuel 17:34-36)
- Was chosen to be Israel's King, though he was the least of his brothers (1 Samuel 16:6-13)
- Defeated Goliath, the giant foe of Israel (1 Samuel 17:31-54)
- Spared Saul's life, though it was in his power to take the throne (1 Samuel 24, 26)
- Became king and won many battles (2 Samuel 6, 8)
Things were going well for David, when he let his guard down and turned from what he knew was right to what he wanted, regardless of what it may cost him. The following act led to David writing the psalm from the beginning of service today.
2 Samuel 11:14-27 (NASB95)
14 Now in the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 He had written in the letter, saying, “Place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, so that he may be struck down and die.” 16 So it was as Joab kept watch on the city, that he put Uriah at the place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 The men of the city went out and fought against Joab, and some of the people among David’s servants fell; and Uriah the Hittite also died. 18 Then Joab sent and reported to David all the events of the war. 19 He charged the messenger, saying, “When you have finished telling all the events of the war to the king, 20 and if it happens that the king’s wrath rises and he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near to the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 ‘Who struck down Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’—then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’ ” 22 So the messenger departed and came and reported to David all that Joab had sent him to tell. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men prevailed against us and came out against us in the field, but we pressed them as far as the entrance of the gate. 24 “Moreover, the archers shot at your servants from the wall; so some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.” 25 Then David said to the messenger, “Thus you shall say to Joab, ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another; make your battle against the city stronger and overthrow it’; and so encourage him.” 26 Now when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. 27 When the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house and she became his wife; then she bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord. 4
David let his desires get in the way of doing what was right. He had the power to take what He wanted and so he took it. It is obvious from the Psalm that David was filled with guilt and felt far from his God.
Peter was a disciple of Christ. He witnessed many of the great things that Jesus had done.
- Saw Jesus feed 4000 (Mark 8:1-21)
- Saw Jesus heal many blind, sick, and demon possessed people (Luke 7:1-17, 8:26-56, Matthew 9:27-34, Etc.)
- Was there When Jesus was transfigured with Elijah and Moses (Matthew 17:1-13)
- Walked on the water with Jesus (Matthew 14:22-36)
- Witnessed the wisdom and compassion of Jesus (Matthew 15:32, 20:34, Mark 1:41, 6:1-3,34)
- Heard Jesus say that He would have to die in Jerusalem (Matthew 20:17-19)
He had seen and heard many great things, but when the time of the trial came, Peter was scared and after Jesus death he was still afraid and, if I'm not mistaken, feeling quite alone.
Mark 14:46-52 (NASB95)
46 They laid hands on Him and seized Him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? 49 “Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.” 50 And they all left Him and fled. 51 A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. 52 But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked. 5
John 18:25-27 (NASB95)
25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed. 6
John 20:19a (NASB95)
19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews 7
Peter betrayed his master, knew of His death and was scared, locked in a room. He had devoted his life to following Jesus and now Jesus had left him, alone and fearing for his life.
Each of our four examples have found themselves alone, and there are more examples (Job, Adam, any of the other followers of Christ and I could argue for any of the other Biblical characters, but as it is not spelled out as such in the Word there is little evidence). It is my belief that, at one time or another during your walk with God, you will come to a point where you feel alone. It's a point where you have doubts or apathy, where you don't know where to turn, where you are running from what God has for you and once you run out of breath it's dark and you can't hear a sound. You are cold and alone and you don't remember which way home is.
It has happened to me. The most recent (and hardest) came after a series of letdowns with school and work and friendships. I was betrayed by a friend and some family members, nothing huge, but the thought of it ate away at me slowly and at times it was all I could think about. I ended up writing sixty or so pages about it and realizing that in many ways the things that I hated in those around me were most often things that could be easily found in my own life. I lie to myself and others about how good or bad my life is. I am hurtful to others, am selfish and quite realistically the list could go on forever. The point is, my focus was off. I saw the bad things in others. I felt abandoned. People had let me down. I had let myself down. And in all this I had forgotten to look to God for what He wanted and what He had for me in all my exaggerated misery. At one point I couldn't even bring myself to read the Bible. I would open and think, “I've read this I know what it says. This is not helping.” I would put it back in its honored place on my shelf. But this thought kept creeping up on me. It was a thought I had abandoned years ago, though flirted with from time to time. I was to be a pastor. I, the one who was bitter from past church experience, who was angry at people and how they let me down; how they refused to see the God I had so eloquently showed them. I wanted them to change on the spot, to always be at the exact level I was at all times: no higher and no lower. I tried so hard to forget, but I knew the way and slowly I crawled back home.
And God was home. He always is. We just have to get there. Saul never did. He was given chances, but eventually gave up and took his own life (1 Samuel 15-31). Samson found his way home, and God was waiting, with the former strength, enough to bring down an entire palace filled with Philistines (Judges 16:28-31). David, through all his faults, always returned home to live to be the ruler against which all the other kings of Israel and Judah were measured (1 Kings 9:4,5, 2 Kings 14:3). Peter met Christ upon His resurrection and went on to lead a new movement of Christ followers (Acts 2:14-36). God was there, waiting for them to return, to follow Him again. Those that went home found the light on and a pot of coffee warm, with God patiently sitting at the table, ready to talk. I found Him there and have begun preparing for what He has planned for my life.
Hebrews 13:5 (NASB95)
5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 8
Joshua 1:5 (NASB95)
5 “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 9
Psalm 52:8-9 (NASB95)
8 But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever. 9 I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it, And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones. 10
Romans 8:38-39 (NASB95)
38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 11
1 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
2 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
3 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
4 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
5 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
6 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
7 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
8 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
9 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
10 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
11 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.