A dear friend who is well on in years has been bedridden and hospitalized for some months. She has led an incredibly active life, traveled to strange faraway places, met interesting people, learned at least three languages, has many friends and has a very strong faith. In one of my most recent visits she remarked in a plaintive voice, “Now I really know what loneliness is.” I was taken aback by that comment and it made me think about who and what we are. For this busy and active lady to really feel that way is itself remarkable. She is outgoing and has an active mind. She has a keen interest in many things and has friends all over North and South America. Now, though, she is going through the greatest health problem she has ever faced, is not able to walk and travel about as before and finds it hard to do much of anything. For months she has had time to think and to ponder—and come to realize that the trial she is experiencing is a path that she, and only she, must walk. She said she has never felt so alone in all of her life.
All of us have parents, siblings, relatives, and friends somewhere in our lives. Some are very close to us through association, where we live, and in the things we do. Still, we all come to realize that there are many times in our lives when we walk alone. A famous former prisoner of war, who had suffered torture and years of captivity, felt he had been broken when an understanding prisoner of war friend “told me I had fought as hard as I could—no man can always stand alone.” Winston Churchill said, “A solitary tree, if it grows at all, grows strong.” It is true that we face many trials and troubles during our lives, with others to aide or comfort us, as well as many successes and joyful occasions. We are in a crowd and we draw encouragement and strength from one another. We feel motivated and driven to accomplish things and we experience the synergy of a group. But although the support is present, we still walk a personal path of life that can make us feel we are alone. When one faces a trial such as this dear lady is facing, we can often feel as if we are all alone.
There are wise sayings in the Bible that God inspired humans to write who have lived through crises. One such set of verses tells us that two are better than one because they help each other. One keeps another warm and a threefold cord is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Ecclesiastes 4:9-12  Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.
 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up.
 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
American King James Version×). All of those points are important and correct. When we walk in a crowd we feel helped, supported, and protected, so life is better and easier. But the speed a group can travel at is reflected in the speed of the slowest member of the group. Each person has a responsibility, and if one fails the group suffers. What becomes clear is that there is a responsibility on each person to support the group, based on freedom of choice and ability. We all have a different understanding of what is right or wrong, true or false, or what may be helpful. Each person who walks this earth is unique and different. The dynamics of the crowd we are in are constantly in a state of flux. Sickness comes, values change and people age and die. We have no guarantee that we will walk with the same person at our side for the rest of our lives.
We walk alone
In one short paragraph of the Bible, Paul stated, “Bear one another’s burdens” and “…each one shall bear his own load” (Galatians 6:2 Galatians 6:2Bear you one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
American King James Version×, 5). That is what being alone in a crowd is about. We need one another, but there are many, many areas in our lives that are sacred to ourselves—no one is allowed to enter. To list a few: we think, learn, develop our own habits, pray, fight our own inner battles, fight disease and sickness, suffer pain, breathe, walk through life on paths we choose, have our own concept of God, know what our sins are and bear them, face loneliness or fear, and die alone. We may have many friends, relatives, and people who care about us and want to help. But we are often in positions where they cannot help and they have their own loads to carry.
When God created Adam, He stated that it is not good that a man should be alone, so He created Eve (Genesis 2:18 Genesis 2:18And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
American King James Version×). Even though they were very close, they were not completely one. Adam spoke as though they were (Genesis 2:23 Genesis 2:23And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
American King James Version×), but when Satan enticed Eve, she alone was enticed. Adam failed in doing his part, too, but they fell one after the other—not together. Just like Adam and Eve, we face God alone.
There are some stories about being in a crowd and yet being alone that may help us grasp this concept. The woman who was brought before Christ after being caught in adultery was alone in a crowd. After Jesus wrote in the sand, He was alone and the crowd evaporated (John 8:9-10 John 8:9-10  And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the oldest, even to the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the middle.
 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are those your accusers? has no man condemned you?
American King James Version×). A person who has the incredible ability that Jesus possessed and who carries himself with authority is one who is almost always alone. People may come and be “hangers-on” but no more than that. Often those who God called directly into His service felt alone among those they came to serve.Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, and Elijah (1 Kings 19:10 1 Kings 19:10And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and slain your prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
American King James Version×) are only a few examples of those who came before Christ. Later, Paul was another and in a sense so were each of the disciples. Paul was given a specific set of instructions from God that included suffering (Acts 9:15-16 Acts 9:15-16  But the Lord said to him, Go your way: for he is a chosen vessel to me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:  For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
American King James Version×). Paul would carry that burden alone. Peter was another to whom Jesus outlined a death that was unique (John 21:19 John 21:19This spoke he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he said to him, Follow me.
American King James Version×). These were paths on which Paul and Peter would walk alone. They all had the prayers of others with them but no one could take their burdens.
There is One who will never leave us
Jesus Christ had a unique calling and a unique life. He was not understood by many of His own family and followers. He had nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:20 Matthew 8:20And Jesus said to him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay his head.
American King James Version×). He was not supported by His “crowd” when He told them He would be taken and killed (Mark 14:27-31 Mark 14:27-31  And Jesus said to them, All you shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.  But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.  But Peter said to him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.  And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, you shall deny me thrice.  But he spoke the more vehemently, If I should die with you, I will not deny you in any wise. Likewise also said they all.
American King James Version×). Jesus knew His mission in life. Like all of us, He had to walk His path alone. True, He had loving followers and friends—but they could not take His place. There were times when they forsook Him (Matthew 26:56 Matthew 26:56But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
American King James Version×). No doubt Jesus felt this loneliness strongly. He knew what was in each man (John 2:24-25 John 2:24-25  But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men,  And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
American King James Version×). Still, He also knew that He was not entirely alone. Jesus always knew that God the Father was with Him (John 8:16 John 8:16And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
American King James Version×, John 8:29 John 8:29And he that sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
American King James Version×). Jesus also mentioned that He was not alone because He always did the things that pleased God. Still, God could not die for Jesus—Jesus had to die alone. Even in a crowd of angels and friends, witnesses to His loving Heavenly Father, Jesus felt so alone that He cried out in anguish, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 Matthew 27:46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
American King James Version×). God promises He will never leave us and Jesus made the same promise (Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
American King James Version×). God was with and in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19 2 Corinthians 5:19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
American King James Version×). God is with and in us through His Holy Spirit. But we are responsible for our choices and actions. That is why there are consequences and penalties (and rewards). We may feel forsaken or wonder where God is in the midst of our struggles, but He is always there.
When Paul felt forsaken, he remembered the Lord stood with him and strengthened him (2 Timothy 4:17 2 Timothy 4:17Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
American King James Version×). Being alone does not mean we do not gain strength from God or those around us. It means our mind experiences the pain, sorrow or joy, fear or confidence, based upon our thoughts and all that we have become in life. All of us walk alone before God, though we are among others. The firstfruits are a crowd, but it is individuals who make the crowd. We will stand before Him alone in judgment (Matthew 12:36 Matthew 12:36But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
American King James Version×). Being alone is part of being human. It is part of learning to trust God. Understanding this lesson can give us strength and courage above what we think we can have. We are always in the sight of a crowd of angels and of God the Father and Son, as well as among crowds of humans in our lives. Still there are paths that you and I must walk alone and we may feel that loneliness to the point of feeling forsaken. Although we walk alone, many eyes are watching and voices are encouraging us. When we have a strong faith and confidence in God, we are able to do much more than we can imagine because of the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:12 Ephesians 3:12In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
American King James Version×, Ephesians 3:20 Ephesians 3:20Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
American King James Version×). Walk boldly, for God walks at your side.
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