The holiday season is officially in full swing. And oh, do I love this season! Though I’ve grown to love the feeling of the sun’s rays beating down on my skin for the majority of the year, this season brings needed refreshment. Many would call our Houston winter, a cool summer, but whatever it is, I still love the feel of the crisp, winter air even if it lasts just for a little while.
As merry as this season is, for many it often comes with a deep sigh that is let out when no one else is around. Here, during this time of family, friends and lots of reflection, many are struggling with attending yet another holiday party alone, keeping a big smile on their face while yet another friend tells of their engagement, or finding themselves at the end of another year with none of their year’s goals reached. And especially now, I can’t help but think of the many, many refugees scattered throughout the world who’ve had their families, quite literally, ripped from their arms. And even when the media isn’t bombarded with these great atrocities, there are millions who remain to be widows and orphans and millions who don’t have a place to call home or a family to call their own. With deep-rooted sadness, people all over the world, struggle with loneliness. Here, in the midst of the most holly, jolly, cheerful season, precious ones lay their heads down at night sighing that deep sigh.
Loneliness overwhelms the souls of followers of Christ and not to mention, even more, those who haven’t come to know His love. It sometimes creeps up in ways that are unexpected. It grabs a hold of a sweet soul and what is left is a cold heart. Loneliness is painful. The dreary, winter air reminds many of what they don’t have and all of the hurt, which remains from broken or non-existent relationships. The lack of feeling loved. The lack of feeling filled. The lack of being cared for by the ones closest to you. Loneliness.
All of these thoughts lead me to these questions. If I never experienced this ache or this longing, would I know how perfectly Jesus Christ satisfies? If I always had the embrace of another, would I ever need His embrace, which comforts me day after day? If I was never alone in this world, would Christ be my everything?
Elisabeth Elliot once wrote, “With what misgivings we turn over our lives to God, imagining somehow that we are about to lose everything that matters. Our hesitancy is like that of a tiny shell on the seashore, afraid to give up the teaspoonful of water it holds lest there not be enough in the ocean to fill it again. Lose your life, said Jesus, and you will find it. Give up, and I will give you all. Can the shell imagine the depth and plenitude of the ocean? Can you and I fathom the riches, the fullness, of God’s love?” The clear answer is no. Of course we could never fathom the depth of His love for us. The loneliness we seem to not be able to let go of is our unbelief in the One who we surrendered it all to. The longings, the aches – Jesus satisfies them. In our need, Jesus fills. In our loneliness, Jesus is everything we think we need. Our loneliness does not change His faithfulness. Even on the loneliest of winter nights, we must die to ourselves, we must lose our lives, so that we will find Him. We must let it all go, in faith, even if that means over and over again. Then, we welcome being “alone” because we know that He never leads us down any path other than the path that leads to Him, the best path for us. We embrace the loneliness we feel here for that is when we truly feel His everlasting, passionate embrace, which holds us tight through the winter chill.
To think, again, of the many who most definitely are alone without Him convicts my heart. Just as I once was, they may not know what will fill the gaping hole in their hearts, but the only answer is Him. He is to the fatherless, a Father. He is to the widow, an all-sufficient, Provider. He is to the one with many desires unfulfilled, a patient, loving Friend. Of course we are not alone; we never have been. His promises are real. He is with us, always.
Soon, so soon, we will be with Him face to face.
…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. | Matthew 28:20b