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If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19

Several years ago I had to take some classes at a university about 100 miles from home. A friend of a friend of mine had parents that lived just outside the city the university was in. They lived in a large house in the country and, through a weird set of circumstances, offered to let me rent a room for the couple of weeks that I’d be there.

The couple lived on a hobby farm in the country. They were very kind to me, and fed me every day. They charged me very little for a great room. It was a great situation for me except for one thing. I was miserable the whole time I was there. My mindset had absolutely nothing to do with the host family or the accommodations or the food. They did everything they needed to do to make me comfortable.

The problem was all on my part. I never felt at ease in their home so even though they told me to make myself at home it felt strange to be walking around in someone else’s home. Also, I was lonely. I missed familiar faces. I missed my family. I couldn’t get over the feeling that I just didn’t belong.

I think of that time in my life every once in awhile. I think about how there are many things in this world that make us, as Christ-followers, feel lonely. People can make us feel lonely when they have expectations for us that we can’t live up to. Try as we might to please them, to fit in or to build a relationship with them, it’s not going to happen.

Tragedy can make us feel lonely too. We struggle to cope with illness or the death of a loved one or the reality that old-age has set in. We see our children struggle and can’t reach out to them like we’d once hoped. We watch our love relationships grow cool or even die. Religion can make us feel lonely too, even though it’s the one thing that should comfort us. Sometimes we can feel lonely and not even really know why. It can just be a longing for comfort and a search for a place to find it. Loneliness comes when we feel like we don’t belong.

Jesus knew we’d be lonely. He warned us about that. As long as we are in this world we’ll be lonely. We’ll feel out of place. We’ll be misunderstood, judged, criticized and feel the pain of life’s struggles. The reason for that is that we aren’t home.

When I was staying with that family I had every reason to be comfortable, but I wasn’t home. It wasn’t going to happen. In the same way, as long as we are here on earth we will always have a sense of longing for ‘home’. Jesus promises us that while we are here in this foreign land he will comfort us. He promises there will be rough spots along the road but all of it will be worth it when we finally come home to him.

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many times I feel out of place in this world. People judge me for my beliefs. They question the way I live. They don’t seem to understand how I feel. There are times I just don’t feel like I belong. Even when things are going well I have a longing for home. Comfort me with your Spirit during the rough spots in the journey. Strengthen me for the road ahead until I’m able to join you in my real home. In Jesus name, Amen.

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