Loneliness. It’s a strange thing, isn’t it?
Some loneliness comes from simply being alone. If you’ve seen the movie or read the book The Martian by Andy Weir, you see a perfect example of being alone. What could possibly be more alone that sitting on another planet, and everyone assumes you’re dead? If there’s ever a person who has the right to feel lonely, it’s Mark Watney.
Throughout the Psalms David explores these feelings as well. He’s isolated, running for his life, and is unsure when stability is going to come again.
But for most of us loneliness creeps in, even without all the drama of armies and space travel. It can show up in moments when we’re “supposed” to be content and even when we’re completely surrounded by people. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a houseful of children on a Wednesday afternoon or a church full of believers on Sunday morning. Being near people isn’t always a cure for loneliness.
That’s because loneliness is more than physical distance from someone else, it’s also the emotion of being sad about the separation. This is why you can be in a group and feel completely isolated. (Remember middle school? That’s loneliness – just about everyone felt like they were on the outside looking in, and no one knew how to talk about it.)
The good news is that we don’t have to stay there.
In Psalm 68 David is writing again. Actually, he’s singing, because that’s what a psalm is – a song. This is a song of faith because many of these things had not happened yet. In the very first sentence, “God shall arise” shows us how David is hoping and praying for his enemies to leave him alone, and for the righteous to praise the Lord for all the ways He saves. David could be confident in these hopes because he knew God’s character. And, because God never changes, we can be confident too!
Take a peek at verses 4-6.
“Sing to God, sing praise to His name,
Extol him who rides on the clouds –
His name is the LORD – and rejoice before Him.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
He leads forth the prisoners with singing;
But the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”
God sees it all the trouble and heartache people go through and sets the lonely in families. Isn’t that beautiful?!
Maybe you’re reading this and your experience of family isn’t something that causes warm fuzzies. Maybe the thought of “family” even causes big, ugly emotions to rise up. If that’s the case, I am so sorry, friend. This world is broken, and families are just one of the beautiful things God created that has been soured by sin. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
True family is a place of love and protection. Truth, discipline, and a whole lot of silliness happen there, too. It’s a place to rest and grow. A place to stretch yourself and become more than you ever thought you could be. True family is a beautiful thing. The best part? Family doesn’t have to be biological.
I love that the lineage of Jesus shows all kinds of people who become a family. Jews. Foreigners. The powerful. The poor. Even a prostitute! All backgrounds, races, and ethnicities comes together to make Jesus’ family.
The church is just the same way. All different folks come together, united in mutual love for Jesus, and learn to love each other like family is supposed to. Don’t get me wrong – this family is dysfunctional in some ways, because all of us are. Your church family still has crazy uncles and that cousin you’re not quite sure about. But it’s also got those people who will walk through fire for you.
Embracing this family can be scary, for sure. But know they are a GIFT from God Himself. He knows how you feel and has a family all picked out for you! Maybe that lonely spot in your heart is just getting ready for a new person He’s bringing your way. Remember – you’re the family someone else has been waiting for too!
In the meantime, while the loneliness remains, remember you are not forgotten.
“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
Who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19)
Friend, He knows how you feel. He understands your burden of loneliness, and is big enough to carry it for you.