Ok, this is going to be a really honest blog. Don’t let it scare you away or anything, but I don’t want to mince words or make paint things with rose colored lens. This also isn’t a blog asking for help or for advice. I just want to communicate what I struggle with and how God uses it for His glory, hopefully His purposes in this little corner of the world, and hopefully to slowly, gently help me to die to myself to that I can be truly alive in Christ.
Living here is hard and lonely. I’m lonelier here than I have ever been in my life. And for me, loneliness breeds doubt, depression and opens up the door for a whole slew of lies and deception to come into my mind and thoughts. I have to constantly be on guard against this just like putting on the armor of God in Ephesians 6.
I got a great devotional this past summer from Brock Johnson and it’s been so convicting and on point every day. I wanted to share the devotional from August 26 because it talks about loneliness and how important it is in God’s plan in order to grow and mature in your faith. It has encouraged me so so much and I’ve went back to it many times to reread it and to remind my soul what is really going on and what is really at stake.
So, here it is… Please read it and then I’ll leave some of my thoughts and how it convicted and encouraged me.
From “Live Dead: 365 days of living and dying with Jesus” by Dick Brogden
August 26: Godly Sorrow
There is a benefit to being separated from friends and loved ones. Jesus sometimes rotates our attention away from what is good to help us become spiritually mature. “Loved one and friend You have put far from me, and my acquaintances into darkness” (Ps. 88:18). Sometimes that good thing or good friend is returned; sometimes it is replaced with another good thing.
No infant enjoys being weaned. I was preaching in the bush of northern Kenya once and watched a tribal mother anoint her breast with cow manure in order to convince her insistent child not to suckle. The weaning worked but not without some wailing. God weans His children from good things to develop spiritual maturity but it is still not enjoyable. Obedient service to Jesus can take us away from our friends and family both physically and emotionally. Sometimes those closest to us do not understand our obedience (this as true for Jesus’ family), which can cause them to distance themselves from us. We were intended to live in community and when our obedience causes relational drift, God gives us new friends and spiritual families to embrace. The sorrow of loneliness purges, simplifies, and points us to Jesus.
Some lessons are learned only under duress. The psalmist prayed, “Make me understand the way of Your precepts” (Ps. 119:27). Behind the request was the recognition that we must often learn through adversity. Ease is good for many things but learning is not one of them. Loneliness positions us to hear from Jesus, away from the din of other voices. Paul stated that godly sorrow is “not to be regretted” (2 Cor. 7:10) because it produces benefits such as diligence, zeal, and vindication (v. 11). Loneliness can lead to focus sanctification, channeled energy, renewed reverence, appropriate longing, passion and ultimately the Lord’s public endorsement. There is a time to be surrounded by family and friends, and there is a time to stand alone and be depended by the sorrow of separation — both give life.
When obedience leads to loneliness, this leads to greater affection. Not only do we feel closer to Jesus when we feel father from everyone else, but He has greater joy over the spiritual depth this develops in us. God cannot love us more, but He can have greater joy when our sorrow leads us to look, think and act more like Him. It is by entering the loneliness of God that we encounter His companionship most deeply.
This encourages me so much! Every time I read it, I want to get up and keep going and persevering forward. This helps to clear away the fog and the doubt and lightens the heaviness of loneliness with the reminder of how much greater is the prize and the reward that will come through the time of sorrow and darkness. It reminds me that these times are a tunnel; and tunnels have an end! It’s not an eternal darkness without end (which is what earthly sorrow and depression would want to deceive me into believing).
I smile at the idea, that God wants to continue wean me in this life in order to make more more spiritually mature… I’m definitely going to wail and complain sometimes and I’m so thankful for his gentle push and patience through my complaining. I’m thankful for the clearing away of distractions of other people, so that I can see more clearly Jesus and his desire to free me from the sin, the worldly idols, the bad habits, the negative thoughts that I want chain myself to. Jesus gives life, whether I’m in the midst of a strong, encouraging community or in a season of separation… he doesn’t want to waste either situation, but wants to use both of them to refine and mature me.
I pray that my times of loneliness are worth it and lead to godly sorrow: to more affection, devotion and joy in Jesus.