“…For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”-Hebrews 13:5
One of the many challenges we have faced recently is the sense of isolation resulting from social distancing. Our opportunities for connection with others, particularly in our faith communities, have been limited. Our normal social support structures have taken a hit and we have felt it.
And while we are thankful for online alternatives, most agree that an online exchange just isn’t the same. Zoom is great, but there’s no substitute for eye-to-eye, skin-on-skin, life-on-life contact.
Now we are faced with the daunting task of re-connecting and re-building some of those relational networks that have been on hiatus. Sounds easy enough, but it looks like this make take a while.
Whether it is the reality or not, our circumstances can leave us feeling quite alone in the world, as if we have been abandoned. I know a guy who recently had to self-quarantine and he said it helped him understand kind of what it must feel like to live in a leper colony, cut off from the rest of civilization and wondering if anyone cares.
If you are coping with loneliness today allow me to highlight something Paul wrote in a letter while serving an unjust prison sentence. Apparently during his second imprisonment in Rome no one came to Paul’s aid. To his far-away friend and associate, Timothy, he confided:
…no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength…2 Timothy 4:16-17
Paul wasn’t complaining, nor was he bitter. He was just stating the fact that in a personal crisis his community had ditched him. The same people that he had introduced to Jesus had left him alone when he could have really used their support.
But all was not lost. Paul emphasizes that there was still One who stood beside him through the whole experience and empowered him to keep going. That was none other than Jesus. By His Spirit, the Lord had remained at Paul’s side every gut-wrenching moment.
Paul wasn’t grinding on his unfaithful friends as much as he was bragging on the faithful presence of Jesus. He wanted Timothy to know that the Lord had kept His promise and had not for a moment forsaken him.
God wants you to know that today as well.
All of us experience those times when it feels like no one cares and like we’ve been left alone in our hardship. These days just about everyone is struggling in some way, which makes it likely that we will unintentionally let each other down. After all, none of us make great lifeguards when we can barely stay afloat ourselves.
The point here is that there is at least one Person who remains right by your side, helping you face whatever is in front of you with grace and courage. From the very moment you opened your heart to Jesus, He has stood faithfully beside you through every single circumstance and season of your life – the cancer and chemotherapy, the depression, the funeral, the move, the surgery, the miscarriage, the unemployment, COVID-19 – all of it.
The point here is that there is at least one Person who remains right by our side, helping us face whatever is in front of us with grace and courage.
Friend, you may or may not feel His presence today, but He’s there by your side. Count on it. Dwell on it. Rise up and go forward on it.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.