~Published in the Charleston Gazette, Sunday, November 20th, 2011~
One of our lifelong friends passed away recently, leaving a wife he was married to for more than sixty years. They had no children. Sadly, this wonderful lady is now all alone.
When this happens, friends and relatives are usually very attentive at first – sending cards; bringing food; stopping by to talk; checking to see if the survivor needs anything and phoning often. It seems that this might go on indefinitely. But, although these people mean well, they have jobs and families and obligations. Life soon beckons and they respond. Suddenly, the survivor finds herself alone—and lonely.
At some point in our lives, many of us have probably dealt with loneliness – one of life’s most painful experiences. This can be very discouraging, especially when there is no one to help us through this trying situation.
After my father died, my mother used to say that weekends were the loneliest times for her. I never understood that. It seemed to me that every day would have been about the same, as my father was retired. And even though I visited her on weekends, it wasn’t enough. She explained it like this: “That was our quality time together,” she said sweetly. “All week, I stayed busy with housework, laundry and cooking, while he worked in the yard, washed the car or piddled around the house. There’s always something to do when you own a house, you know.” I nodded.
“But come Saturday morning,” she said, “We lingered a long time over breakfast, enjoying lengthy conversations as we drank our coffee, and then we’d get cleaned up and go downtown and do a little shopping. Sometimes we just looked around, or he’d find something to do while I got my hair done. Finally, we’d go to a nice restaurant for dinner before going home. We looked forward to Saturdays. After church on Sunday, we’d have lunch and sit around for hours sipping coffee or iced tea while we read the Sunday papers. I miss all that,” she said wistfully.
My mother lived 25 years after my father died, never remarrying. And she never stopped referring to her lonely weekends.
Although it’s difficult for most of us to understand, sometimes God allows such situations because they are opportunities to bring us into a closer relationship with Him. When we’re all alone and others are unable or unwilling to help, God is the One who is always with us!
While the reality of God’s constant presence with us is a fact, unfortunately, we are not always aware of Him, especially in lonely periods. Have you sometimes wondered, if He’s with me, why can’t I sense His presence? Why do I feel so alone? At times like these, our courage weakens and it’s difficult to rely on the truth that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Heb. 13:5)
In his lifetime of walking with Christ, the apostle Paul learned that times of weakness were God’s invitation to depend on Him. When Paul was struggling with a “thorn in the flesh,” the Lord said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”
Christians have a responsibility to visit widows and others who are lonely. It must be made clear that God is always with them. Our greatest resource for letting them know that, of course, is the Bible. Throughout its pages, the Lord tells His people that He is with them. Before Christ ascended to the Father, He promised His followers, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)
Thus, the Holy Spirit abides within us—and we are never alone!