Loneliness and being alone are not synonymous.
Loneliness is an internal condition; not dependent on external circumstances.
We can be married, in a large family, or in the midst of a crowd and feel the ache of emptiness - of not being fully understood, or known, or loved. And, yet, when we feel lonely, we think it will be fixed by getting married, having a baby, joining a group or planning a party.
Maybe those strategies will work for a while…
or maybe we will be disappointed that others did not take away our loneliness.
Maybe it is their fault.
Sooner or later, though, we feel it again.
Sooner or later we are left to journey alone.
The truth is there are parts no earthly companion can understand or traverse.
In his final hours on earth, Jesus told his friends, disciples, traveling companions of the past three years, “The time is coming – indeed it’s here now – when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.” (John 16: 32 NLT)
Jesus knew the secret of being alone on this earth; yet not alone. Not lonely. Not abandoned.
He had embraced his identity as the dearly loved child of his Father.
He had heard the Father speak it when he was baptized: “This is my dearly loved Son who brings me great joy.” (Matthew 3:17)
Jesus believed it. He embraced it with his heart not his head.
That’s the identity he lived out of and that’s what enabled him to stay true to his calling and purpose, to remain undeterred in the face of death threats and criticism, to face torture and death – alone.
But not alone. Not lonely. For he knew the Father was with him. He knew.
When we know that we are loved and cherished; that we are the dearly loved child of our heavenly Father, we will never be lonely again – even if we are alone.
Ask for the Grace to know. “I pray, Father, that from your glorious, unlimited resources, you will empower me with inner strength through your Spirit. Jesus, make your home in my heart as I trust in you. Make my roots grow down into your love, O God, to keep me strong. And may I have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep your love is. May I experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.” (Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT pronouns changed)