For the History Channel show Alone, 10 participants are dropped of in the middle of nowhere with limited gear and the challenge of surviving longer than any of the other participants. No end date given. Just longer.
Each contestant struggles finding food, enough and the right kind, to stay relatively healthy. Each one loses weight because of lack of calories coupled with the high-caloric burn of life in the wild. Some contestants get sick, malnourished, or inured and decide or are forced to leave. Just as many for all of those reasons combined, though, leave because they cannot take being alone any longer.
Each contestant confronts the struggles of being alone in some way. Most by missing the positive relationships waiting for them when they return but many to remedy any relationships deteriorating because of neglect. Solitude forces every contestant to confront deep parts of themselves, and some simply are unable to do so. The ones that embrace this introspection for any length of time leave determined to do better at living.
Most people don’t have to endure such extreme solitude. Some, though, live with it in ways that may be even more challenging: feeling alone when you’re not alone.
Alone because others are too busy or overwhelmed with their own struggles and trials. Alone because you don’t think anyone understands. Alone because someone hurt or abandoned you, so you keep everyone at a distance. Alone even in a crowd because you’re just to afraid to talk to someone new.
I find comfort in knowing Jesus understands being alone. He was alone in the wilderness for 40 days without food and water, a time that ended with him fighting Satan’s attacks with the word of God. He was abandoned by those closest to him when he was arrested and tried. He was alone on the cross when God turned away from him.
Why did he endure such profound loneliness? Love. The joy set before him (i.e., our salvation). Obedience.
Jesus’ experiences with loneliness tell me that someone understands my own loneliness. They tell me that I’m valuable and loved. They also set examples of obedience following God’s will wherever it leads.
Jesus endured the extremes of loneliness – unmet physical need, betrayal, separation, and death – so I don’t have to. I may feel alone at times. I may feel abandoned or betrayed… or actually be abandoned or betrayed. Yet, I am never really alone because God continuously ministers to me.
“Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” he promises (Hebrews 13:5). Words that keep any feelings of aloneness from consuming me. That promise is for you, too. Let them dispel any loneliness in your life.