Like most children, one thing I dreaded more than anything else was to be alone. Just the thought of it sent a tormenting fear racing through my mind; a cold chill blasted me as if I were a solitary tree on some windswept mountain. I would have made friends with a gecko or a mouse just to feel some sort of comfort.
One reason for this can come from our experiences with people. They can let us down. Just as we develop our trust for them, they can get offended, walk away and leave us, which is far more painful than an actual wound. People make promises and commitments they never honor. People form friendships based on what they can benefit from you, but when you become a liability they drift away. For whatever reason or offense, people are seldom reliable as comforters. Going through his terrible sicknesses, Job called his friends, "miserable comforters".
King David was also in physical pain when he wrote these words: "All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt. An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more." Understandably, his enemies would not wish him well. But he added this:"Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." (Psalm 41:9) How devastating that must have been for this beloved psalmist!
Years ago I was in Jerusalem and visited the very dungeon Jesus spent His last night before His crucifixion. It was a small room dug out of the limestone rocks beneath the house of Caiphas, the High Priest who sent Jesus to his death. How dark and foreboding was that place! But the impact of it only hit me when I heard the scripture which describes that particular time:
"O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee. Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry; For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave. I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength: Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth. Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee. Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee. LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me? I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted. Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off. They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together. Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness." (Psalm 88)
I was so impacted by what I felt there in that dungeon, that I cried for hours. I never felt aloneness like I did in that place! Peter had fled when he heard the rooster crow. The rest of his disciples were also gone. Yes, Jesus would cry aloud, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He was touched with the feelings of our infirmities, and that included our lack of comfort.
Jesus' love for us was never displayed so much as when he told his disciples he would give them another Comforter...the Holy Spirit. Knowing he would soon leave them he said, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me...I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you....these things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
David went through a storm...alone. But something happened to him during that time...God sent His word to heal! David wrote in Psalm 119:49 concerning his trials: "Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me." Our comfort in the Holy Spirit is the presence of our Greatest Friend who has promised to "never leave us nor forsake us", and the Word which comes to us from Him will be our faithful comforter at all times.
Is it foolish then, to make friends? Not at all. So long as our reliance and trust is not in flesh, but in the Spirit. And sometimes that is hard to do. We WANT to believe in the sincerity of others. We WANT to trust them. We WANT them in our lives as long as we live. But no friend, even we ourselves, can be that kind of loving, faithful person outside of the Holy Spirit.. for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ who has promised to never leave us, but be with us always.
I think of the times I have felt that childhood aloneness creep into my mature years. I needed comfort, but there was no person there to comfort me....I thought. My mind saw a picture of the Grand Canyon, and I reasoned with God, "I feel just like that...gouged, eroded, desolate and abandoned." Just then, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, "Yes, but remember that millions of people come each year to view that awesome scene and give Me praise and glory for its beauty!" Like David, a Word of comfort had quickened me in that hour.
I went out early the day following my husband's funeral. The sun had not yet come up, and as I walked down my driveway I spoke to the Lord. "How can I go on without him? I feel like half of me has been ripped out of my body." Just then I heard a loud noise, as thousands of birds began to sing. The sun was just now breaking the horizon in the east. Again, the Word of Comfort came: "Do you hear those birds singing? Yesterday, some of those birds had mates. But today they are alone. Yet they rose early to praise Me and welcome this new day, and so can you." That word has never left my spirit to this day, and caused me great Comfort when I felt I could not go on.
I have a precious sister who told me of a trial in her life. It concerned her children. She had faithfully taken them to church all their childhood, despite her husband's indifference to spiritual matters. Now they were grown and away from home, and though each had been saved in their youth, most now had little interest in God. She was discouraged and felt such trouble in her spirit. But as she spoke to the Lord, He pointed her to a certain scripture: Jeremiah 31:16-17:
"Thus saith the LORD: Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD: and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border."
Especially in the days we now live, many people feel the heavy weight of abandonment. People live together in "relationships" rather than marriage, for they do not trust the promises of commitment. Churches are split into and new ones formed because people who called themselves brothers and sisters walked away from their "first love" and thought more of their personal motives than the hurt they might give to the body of Christ. Children wonder why mother or father are always "too busy" to spend a precious moment with them...the elderly lie abandoned in hospital wards, waiting for death.
Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus could care enough to bless us with the gift of the Holy Spirit? Life is tough...it hurts at times. But we are not to carry our burden alone...we must not forget Who it is that is there waiting to speak Words to us that no human wisdom can ever conceive and be the friend, "who sticketh closer than a brother."
Once we seek the true Comforter, our "aloneness" is never "abandonment".
MARY E. ADAMS