Kia Ora everyone. Rob here.
Last week I was at our annual Pastor’s retreat for our movement. The great benefit of the retreat is being with others who understand your world, speak the same language, share the same frustrations and joys and struggles. The big message I get from the week is: You are not alone! This is a message that would be good for all of us to take to heart.
Feeling alone is a debilitating feeling. It saps all the energy and purpose out of you. I find it fascinating that in Romans 12:15 Paul says this:
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
If there’s no one to share your pain with and no one to celebrate your joy with, what are you left with? You’re left with isolation, a state that none of us are designed for. It was not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18) said God. It makes sense then that a tactic of the enemy would be to make us feel alone, isolated, cut off, and thereby, tempt us to make agreements that we’re unloveable, not worth it, and untouchable. Hearts get hardened, addictions take hold, pride and/or shame rule and our humanity is diminished.
But you’re not alone. It may feel that way, but you’re not. Every alcoholic felt that their pain was unique and then they went to AA and discovered they were not alone. When you’re suffering from depression, feelings of isolation can be overwhelming, but you’re not alone. The horribly huge number of teenage suicides in my country tell me that there are far too many carrying around a belief that no one understands or cares. But you’re not alone.
The difficulty is that reaching out to others requires an enormous amount of courage, vulnerability and trust – often more than people feel they can give. If our communities are built on pretense and posing then people will be very reluctant to come out of isolation. If our communities are built on genuine love that gives us the courage to be vulnerable, however, then a different story will emerge.
The church is built on Jesus Christ who made himself vulnerable for us. He knew isolation at the cross. His friends abandoned him. he even cried out;
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me! – Matthew 27:46
Jesus identified with our ‘God-forsaken’ moments and reminds us again – we are not alone. Christ is with us. Christ’s church is designed to be a community where we can be vulnerable because Christ is our refuge. We have a long way to go, but when we’re on our knees at the cross of Christ, letting his restoring love wash over our broken places, then we’re on our way. There’s no posing at the foot of the cross.
If isolation and loneliness is your story then take heart. Christ has overcome the world. Through his vulnerability and courage the enemy is thwarted. Come as you are to the foot of the cross. May you meet the church of Christ there. May you meet love there. May the light shine in your darkness there and may you know, you are not alone.
Grace and peace.