In my life, I have struggled over and over with feelings of loneliness. Throughout these dark times, God has taught me about Himself. I have learned that He is understanding, He is caring, and, perhaps above all, that He is lovingly present, especially in the refining fire of hardship.
During a time when I was young, and before I had actually accepted Christ, I remember one night I felt so alone that I started talking to myself. Trust me, I know, it is weird but at that time it was the only thing I wanted: a simple conversation with someone who truly understood me—myself. I looked up to the ceiling and just cried, venting to myself. Slowly, my self-counseling session had transformed into a prayer. A prayer to a God I didn’t even believe in. With eyes overflowing with tears, I buried my face in my pillow and said, “God, if you exist, I could really use a hug right now.” All of the sudden I felt this surge of energy fill my body. I felt chills go down my back, followed by the most comforting internal warmth I have ever felt in my life. I remember the feeling vividly. Over the years, I have asked for this divine embrace again and again but haven’t gotten another. I have noticed however, He comforts us in the way we need most, not what we want most.
Isn’t it astonishing that God is so loving that He came during my darkest and most loneliest times that God chose to reveal His love to me, an atheist at heart. He stepped down and comforted me, someone who has always rejected Him. It speaks volumes of His unconditional love for His children.
Despite God’s constant revelation of Himself to me, I have still found myself feeling lonely. I remember two weeks ago from today, I was at New Generation, a group at JBU that spends each Wednesday night on campus having fellowship. During our time of worship outside, I kept on looking at the sky. It was extraordinarily bright with stars, but one star in particular caught my eye. It was the brightest no doubt. It’s tiny, insignificant, yet bright light attracted my attention. I imagined how far it was. I was awe-struck that the flickering light that was filling my eyes had just traveled millions of miles, possibly over the course of decades, if not centuries. Not only that, but God had intended that light just for me. I didn’t want to look away.
In that moment, I started feeling my thoughts of loneliness creep in again. I thought it was amazing how God made that star and trillions like it, but it, for some reason, made me feel insignificant and alone. I started to wonder, “Why do you concern yourself with things so far? Why is it that the only evidence of your work seems to be something from millions of miles away? Why are you so far?” I continued to say that. As the words “so far” kept rolling off my tongue, the worship of my New Gen friends started roaring. While I said “so far,” they suddenly started singing and worshipping these words: “You’re closer than the skin is to my bones!” At that moment, my heart sank, and I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I did nothing except look up at that star, singing and sobbing but comforted, and alone but at peace. God may feel far at times, but He is closer than the skin is to our bones.
“I do not remember grief and loneliness so much as I do peace and comfort—grief, but never without comfort; loneliness, but never without peace.” -John Ames in “Gilead”