“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” —John 14:18
The word “alone” carries with it an interesting mix of concepts. On the one hand, to be “alone” is to simply have no one else present with you. It is to be physically by oneself, like when the house is dark and you seem to notice every single creek or sound as if at extreme volume. Yikes. Moving on … On the other hand, to be “alone” can mean to be doing something without the assistance or participation of others. It is solely your responsibility to complete the task at hand, without any help from anyone else.
While those two types can be difficult, it’s actually a third type of being “alone” that can unsettle us the most. It is different from the physical. It is different from solitary responsibility. And yet, it shares traits with both of those concepts: the idea of being spiritually alone. We can feel “spiritually alone” even when surrounded by many people (physical) and even when our labor is shared across a group (task responsibility). We may feel like God is distant and doesn’t hear us—maybe even that he doesn’t care. In ministry, we might feel that what we are doing to serve and love as we are called to do has little if any impact. When we feel this way, living the Christian life seems isolating and burdensome—quite different than having life abundantly as Jesus described (see John 10:10). Sure, we might summon up the gumption to press on for a while, but it is a difficult drudgery where the fire grows dim.
The Bible understands we will feel this way. “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? … ‘God has forgotten he has hidden his face, he will never see it.’ Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted.” (Psalm 10:1, 11-12). When we feel this way—and if we’re honest, we all do from time to time—there is but one cure: knowing and believing God’s promise of his presence.
God’s presence with us is our greatest need—the only cure for being alone—and it is the consistent story of all of Scripture.
From beginning to end, the Bible showcases God on a particular mission. “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:28) At the very beginning of history, the first thing God provides to Adam and Eve is what they need the most—himself. Together with him in Eden, he blesses them and then calls them to expand his presence across the whole uninhabited earth. After they fall into sin and make wreckage of their own ability to continue in God’s presence (see Genesis 3), God doesn’t give up. He continues these promises through the ages:
- To Noah, and then Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph (see Genesis).
- To Moses, Joshua and the nation of Israel (see Exodus — remainder of Old Testament).
- In the person of Jesus Christ (see the 4 Gospels)
- To all who would believe in Christ until the end of time (see Acts — Revelation).
This continues on right down to you and me. God’s presence with us is our greatest need—the only cure for being alone—and it is the consistent story of all of Scripture. The first commission to Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” concludes with a “great multitude” basking in God’s glorious presence forever (see Revelation 21 & 22).
Beginning this Sunday at 10:15am, between the worship services, we will start a new EQUIP/Adult series titled “God With Us.” In this 4-week teaching, we will examine how God is on a mission to maintain and ultimately fully restore his true presence with us. We will look at how it started in Eden, how it continued in the Tabernacle and Temple, was perfectly shown in Jesus, and then culminates in the New Heavens and New Earth. Understanding and believing the promise of God’s presence fuels our worship of him, and that worship drives us to carry out our mission and his purposes in the world.
Do you ever feel spiritually alone? Does God seem distant at times? Do you tire and struggle to find the energy to labor for the Lord and lovingly serve others? Come to EQUIP/Adult and experience the one and only cure for that: God With Us.
Desiring his presence,