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lonelyTurn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. Psalm 25:16 (NLT)

I don’t get to travel often. In fact it’s rare that I spend a night away from my family. One on occasion though I remember sitting in a hotel room 1500 miles from home. I was there for a conference that I’d looked forward to for months. I was basking in the warm sunshine of the Sunbelt while my family endured the cold winter of the north.

It was a great time. The sessions were everything I hoped for. The networking I did was fulfilling. Yet, the entire time I was there I battled the plague of loneliness. Don’t get me wrong. I was far from being alone. I was a phone call or text message from my loved ones; I was in a conference with loving and accepting people. But feelings of loneliness have nothing to do with the location you are in or the amount of people you are around. In fact, loneliness is worst when you are in a crowd.

One recent study suggests that 60 million people in the United States are affected by loneliness. The late Robin Williams once said, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.”  But it’s not just people that make you feel alone. One definition of loneliness is “feeling unhappy because of being separated from other people.” Feelings of failure, inadequacy, rejection, poor self-image, anger and many other feelings can lead us to withdraw into the harsh world of loneliness.

Sometimes we are separated from others because of physical distance, as I was at that conference, but other times we are separated from others emotionally. We’ve all been there. Maybe you are there now. No one seems to understand your feelings. Even your closest friends seem intent on ‘fixing you’ rather than just listening to you and letting you sort things out yourself.

While there is no easy answer to the severe feelings of loneliness, I take some comfort in the Bible and in particular the book of Psalms. Written by a man who failed as a father, leader, lover, husband and friend, David writes from the heart about his struggles with the emotional part of life.

In Psalm 25:16, he pleads with God to, “Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress.” You can almost hear the anguish in his voice. Imagine that. At the time he was the most powerful and popular king his nation had ever had. Yet in spite of his power and popularity (the two things we all hope for) he felt complete and udder distress.

David knew that the only place to get relief for his soul was from God. In the same way, the only real way to battle the feelings of loneliness we have is by going to God. Many may say, ‘Why God? How can he understand how I feel?”

The reason God can understand how we feel is because his Son, Jesus Christ, endured loneliness and rejection more than anyone else. His family thought he was crazy. Church leaders constantly hounded him, trying to catch him in some lie so they could kill him (which they did eventually), His friends abandoned him in his hour of deepest need and never did fully understand him. The ultimate rejection, however, came from his own Father.

In our western, 21st century culture we don’t understand the significance of this event, but in the book of Matthew (Matthew 27:45-46) we’re told that God himself ‘turned his back on Jesus’. When God ‘forsook’ Jesus, it was like turning his back on Jesus. In that culture, when a father turned his back on his son it was the deepest and strongest symbol of rejection that could happen. At the point of Jesus’ deepest point of need, even his father rejected him and left him all alone. It’s no wonder some of Jesus’ last words were (to paraphrase) ‘Dad! Why have even you turned away from me? You were all I had and now you are gone!”

Are you feeling completely rejected? Do you feel like no one else cares? Do you feel like your failures are so great that no one can ever accept you again? There’s only one person who knows exactly how you feel because he went through the same feelings. That person is Jesus Christ and he anxiously reaches out to you to comfort, forgive and most of all be your closest friend.

Dear Jesus, you know better than anyone how I’m feeling right now. The feelings of loneliness and failure overwhelm me. Please help me to feel your presence in my life right now and especially during those times I need a friend. Amen.

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

Why did Jesus die? Theologians will tell you that he needed to die as a perfect sacrifice of our sins, and that’s true. We all were lost, subject to our evil sin nature, and destined to eternity separated from God.

The only way to bridge that gap was to have some person who was sinless die on behalf of the world, and that person was, by his choice Jesus Christ. He died so we might live.

But tucked away in Hebrews we find another reason that Jesus died. This reason was, perhaps the motivation for why he died. Jesus died because he knew the pain he would endure on earth would be well worth the joy he’d receive when all things were accomplished.

Joy? You may say? What joy? Was the joy he was looking forward to the joy of living in heaven for eternity? I think not. After all, heaven was his home and the universe was his playground.

Was the joy he was looking forward to the joy of living with his father? Again, I think not. Why would he leave his father on his own will and suffer hardship so he could look forward to being with his father? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Jesus Christ left heaven, endured the shame, ridicule, loneliness, rejection, hate and anger because he was looking forward to the joy of living with you. Yep, you are his joy, his crown, the one he longs to spend time with.

Any of us can endure a little hardship and pain if we know that the end result is better than the present circumstances. Take exercise for example, there may be a few who really enjoy exercise, but for most of us we struggle to get ourselves onto the running path or into the gym. It’s much easier to say, “I’ll start tomorrow.”

But if we want to enjoy good health we exercise. Exercise is good for the heart, prevents or at least puts off some diseases, and can even deter the aging process. The end result is worth the present pain and discomfort.

Jesus knew before he left heaven the first time what life would be like for him on earth. He knew the pain he’d endure for you. Jesus knew, before he left heaven every single mistake you’d make. Every cross or profane word. Every affair. Every visit to the porn sight. Every time you’d mock him. Still, he looked forward to the day he could spend eternity with you. The joy far outweighed the pain.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me so much. Things here on earth get very painful. I don’t understand why I do what I do or have to go through what I am going through. Help me to endure all of this with the expectation I have of spending eternity with you. In your name, Amen.


Lord, remember your mercy and love that you have shown since long ago. Psalm 25:6 (NCV)

When things go wrong it’s easy to feel like we are all alone, like no one fully understands our problems or our fears. To some extent that is true. Each of us is unique in how we respond to events in our lives. Feeling like we are alone can be one of the most paralyzing things in our lives.

Loneliness can cause us to withdraw into our own prison cell and hinder our ability to see things realistically. We can try to cover up our loneliness through anger or multiple relationships or drugs and alcohol. The feeling that we are all alone has driven many people to suicide. After all, if you are all alone you don’t matter to anyone so you may as well end it.

Unresolved guilt, broken relationships, poor choices, abuse and a variety of other things can cause us to feel lonely and unloved. Whatever it is that is causing you to feel alone can be like a downward spiral. You feel rejected so you withdraw or do some other action to push others away which makes you feel more rejected so you withdraw further into the dark abyss of loneliness. Soon you feel hopeless in your desire to be accepted for who you are.

Acceptance by even one or two people can destroy the walls of loneliness. Sometimes it can be the simplest of things. A hand on your shoulder, a smile at the checkout line, a kind word when anger is present; mercy when you want justice.

There may be times in your life when loneliness and rejection seem to be the order of the day. During times of loneliness and rejection remember that your Heavenly Father is always there. He is full of mercy when you deserve justice; he is there to extend love when others respond in anger; he accepts you as you are when others demand conformity.

Others may never understand your feelings or your actions. Others may never reject you. God never will. As he has in the past, he will continue to be a father that accepts you, stands with you and forgives you. You can trust him to always be at your side.

PRAYER: Father, I thank you for the way you love me. I praise you for always being there when I feel alone and rejected. Help me to feel your presence as I face today. Enable me to show others the mercy and love you have shown me. In Jesus name, Amen.


He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, Luke 22:41

I can’t imagine the emotion of that night. The disciples were confused about some of Jesus’ words in the upper room. There seemed to be some sort of secret dialogue going on between Jesus and Judas. After living with the guy 24/7 for three years the men must have sensed something was wrong, something very heavy on Jesus’ heart.

Then went out from the upper room to a small garden, named Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives. Jesus took his three very closest friends to apart from the rest to pray. How much did he know? He was God, but he was also man. He knew as a man the horrendous nature of crucifixion. He’d no doubt passed by as someone was being hung on a tree. Did he get a strange feeling every time he saw that? Did he think, “Some day that will be me”?

For whatever reason, tonight Jesus knew that he was going to die. Over the next few hours he would experience pain beyond belief, the rejection of his closest friends, and worst of all, the inability to sense the presence of his father. All through his ministry he was rejected, hungry at times and mistreated and misunderstood. But he’d always had his daddy to go to. Soon, even that would be gone.

In the midst of his agony he went to talk to Dad one more time. He didn’t talk about himself. He asked once for God to reconsider, but the rest of his time was spent praying. Praying for you. Praying for me. Praying that in the midst of our darkest hours we would remain strong. Praying that love and unity would always be the defining characteristic of our families and churches. Even when death stared him in the face his main thoughts and concerns were for us.

Maybe that’s something to think about when it seems all of life has collapsed around you. Maybe it’s something to remember when the future seems hopeless, when the things you are forced to endure are insurmountable. When you don’t think you can go on.

Jesus, in his darkest hour never stopped thinking of you. I’ve seen artist renderings of Jesus praying alone in the garden. At best they have the disciples a long distance away. ‘A stone’s throw’ means ‘very near’, not far away. When the pain of living seems to be too much, remember he is just a stone’s throw away and it always thinking of you.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, it’s amazing to me to think about how hard that night in the garden must have been for you. I can’t imagine how hard it was to stare death, rejection and separation in the face. Yet you loved me so much your last thoughts were for me, not yourself. Thank you for loving me so much. Empower me with your Spirit to remember, when life seems too hard, that you love me and are just a ‘stone’s throw away’. In your name, Amen.


If someone were to ask you ‘What would it take to quit loving someone you currently love dearly?’ what would your answer be?

For example, what would it take to stop loving your spouse/significant other? Some may say, ‘if my spouse/significant other cheated on me, that would be the end. I couldn’t stand trying to live with the betrayal. After all, if he/she did it once, chances of it happening again are likely. Nope. Cheating on me would be the end of that relationship.

If you were to ask Jesus, He’d say, I’ve been betrayed before. In fact, the ones I love have betrayed me over and over again. But I still love them. I’ve forgiven them. I’ll welcome them back as many times as they ask. Betrayal won’t kill my love for them. Each new day is a fresh beginning with Jesus.

Others may say, ‘If my spouse/significant other’ abused me that would be the end. No one should have to suffer the pain of abuse from another person. Jesus understood the pain of rejection and abuse. Those that should have accepted him the most readily were constantly ridiculing him, discredit him and trying to kill him. For a time Jesus avoided them. The spoke of their abuse and called them hypocrites, but even while keeping his distance from them he prayed for them. At one point he even wept for them. Eventually they did kill him, but even then some of his dying words were ‘Father forgive them.’

Jesus knows abuse and rejection. Even though he removed himself from abusive situations, he still prayed for his enemies. Jesus knew the difference between loving the person and not the actions they take.

Would it be a child’s rebellion that ended your love for him? Jesus often called the ones who mistreated and rejected him his children and called them to his open arms. Jesus knows rebellion and while he hates to see us rebel, he refuses to stop loving us.

Paul’s prayerful desire is for us is that we know a love that is beyond our knowledge. That love is the love Jesus showed while on earth and continues to show every day for us. I don’t understand it. I can’t fathom how someone can love the abusive parent, the abusive or cheating spouse, the terrorist, or the person who cuts me off on the interstate.

I don’t understand how he can love someone who he knows will betray him or wants him dead or speaks evil of him, or fails him time and time again. I don’t understand how he can overlook someone’s past and present sin and love them anyway. I don’t understand Jesus’ love, but I’m eternally grateful for his love for me. For you see it’s the love of Jesus that keeps me going when others mistreat me, discredit me or betray me. It’s the love and forgiveness of Jesus that keeps me sane when, once again, I’ve done something, or said something that displeases him because I know that even when I hurt him deeply by my thoughts, actions and words his love is deeper still.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I’m in awe as I consider the great love you have for us mere mortals. We fight and bicker. We betray and abuse. We neglect or destroy the most important relationships we have. Still, you love me. This is too wonderful, too awesome to comprehend. Help me this day to consider, with each step I take, the great, unending love you have for me. In your holy, loving name I pray, Amen.

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