you are aware that all who are in asia turned away from me, among whom are phygelus and hermogenes. [2 timothy 1:15]
there is a difference in being alone vs being lonely. let me define what i mean. we have all had times when we felt lonely. lonely to me is a feeling. lonely is: i have relationships around me but I still feel like no one really understands, no one is hearing me, no one is seeing my heart. alone is not a feeling. alone is: the absence of people for a painful amount of time. paul is referring to specific moment where, he was alone. “all who are in asia turned away from me.” both are nothing we want to experience. but “alone”, is a deeper more effectual pain.
brutal. wounding. heartbreaking. embarrassing. sorrowful. agonizing. there are many words we could use to describe the moment we find that we are alone. paul knew the reality of this condition. he knew what it was like to humanly be …
some of us are lonely right now. we have relationships around us, but we don’t really feel heard or seen by the people around us. our heart aches to be known deeper right now. we are lonely. some of us are humanly alone. this is unique time in our history and quarantine has led to being alone for some. please, if you are alone hear the rest of this truth about paul’s life. he was humanly alone for a season, but he was not alone. as with the letter of 2 timothy, paul also wrote the letter of philippians from a roman jail. hear the truth of his aloneness.
for i have learned in whatever situation i am to be content. i know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. in any and every circumstance, i have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. i can do all things through him who strengthens me. [philippians 4:11-13]
paul had a season where he was humanly alone. (note: God did bring him friends. keep reading in 2 timothy.) however, for a season he felt the sorrow of being alone, but he knew the joy of Christ’s strength in him – Christ in him. eugene “red” mcdaniel was shot down over vietnam in 1967. he spent 6 years in the infamous and brutal “hanoi hilton” prison where he was dubbed the chaplain because of his faith in Jesus. one of his most famous post war lines is: “you often don’t realize Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.” paul knew this truth. and having Jesus alone wasn’t a consolation prize to paul or mcdaniel. Jesus was the prize – “Christ in you.” [col1:27] alone, … but never alone, is what paul would say. how could he say this?
years before, Christ had hung on a cross alone. and there, he experience the full wrath of his Father’s judgment for our sin and the utter despair of being separated from all in that judgment. NOW …, because Jesus hung on that cross alone, we have never have to be alone. because the Father left him alone there to be our judgment, we now can know the joy of our Father’s presence.
today is saturday. in the course of the holy week this was the day Jesus was in the tomb. those that had abandoned him were now suffering through being alone, wondering if they would ever be with Jesus again. saturday was a day of wishing, questioning, wondering. this side of the cross, we live with the truth of SUNDAY. we don’t have to wish, question, or wonder – we can know! God is with us, immanuel. Christ in us. today if this feels like “saturday, where your hope is dim and the pain of alone is high, may i speak this truth over you today:
you are not alone!
you will never be alone. because Jesus hung on that cross alone, we are not alone. praise God for this truth today. ask God to experience this truth today like you never have. if you know others who are battling this quarantine alone – whether they are lonely or alone, reach out to them and let them know they are not alone humanly or divinely. through the work of Christ, you are not alone. your friend is not alone!
Father, “in your presence there is fullness of joy.” [psalms 16:11] may we taste the joy of your presence today, right now, may we know the fullness, the overflowing, overwhelming fullness of joy in your presence given to us by your Son’s suffering. come Lord Jesus, come! amen.
~ john ryan