“Until you have been able to meet God in loneliness of soul, you and God, as if there is nobody else in the world, you will never know what it is to love other people in the world.”
— A.W. Tozer (1897 – 1963)
So you’re lonely. Life has come to be anything but. Loneliness’s brought emptiness, desolation, an irreparable vacuous brokenness. The days breed despair. The minutes make for anguish. Some seconds wail. And there’s fear for the hours; many from hell itself.
I recall my loneliest time. A time of deepest pain. A season dark beyond drudgery. Little doubt you feel as I did. How could life get so woefully bad? What was God thinking to put me through what seemed more like a living death than an existence of palatable life? Why is God so seemingly sadistic? When, if ever, will life improve?
Has he turned his face from us, forever?
Maybe you know God. Maybe you don’t. Perhaps you hate God. Or, perhaps God was a great love, until now. Possibly you’ve loathed God until this point, and now you’ve called out desperately — one last foray: “Answer me, Lord, I’m giving you one last chance!” Perchance you’ve got nothing left of yourself and God’s all you’ve got left.
That was me; the latter.
I’d believed in God for over a decade but my docilely benign faith was little good to me when life collapsed. I’d led such a foolish life; a waste as a believer. And my life had turned for the worse. Suddenly for the first time in my entire life I needed God. And where was he?
Twelve years ago, my narcissistic faith was overdue for an overhaul. And calamity brought it to bear. My life became a caricature of Proverbs 1:20-33. Wisdom had been calling me by name for years, but I had ignored her; now to my vapid peril.
Calamity was loneliness in the extremes. Calamity was loneliness, but with the end came a new beginning. Out of the ashes the phoenix rose. God reached down and dug me out of my abyss. He stooped down, off the cross, and brought me back up, to be with him, there, at Calvary.
Only when I had nothing left did I cling to God with more than my life was worth!
Only when I was broken beyond repair could God resurrect my sorry life.
And I mean that. I went from being the prince of paupers to being a pauper of a Prince, overnight. Nothing had changed except what had changed in my heart, yet a heart renewed meant a life revived. I was finally ready to start life all over again. Loneliness was the paradoxical key.
If not for loneliness we cannot truly know God. And without being bereft of soul we cannot know God’s love. And if we’ve never been touched in such paucity of spirit, we cannot know how much God loves us. And only when we know how much God loves us can we love others with that love.
Love’s depth is impossible to know until we’ve been given it. Desperation for God is how we get it; through loneliness. And we cannot give such a thing as love if we’ve never known it. In loneliness we’re given love. In loneliness we learn love. Out of loneliness we drink of love’s elixir out of deep thirsty need. Starved of love in loneliness we claw at it with our lips as if we had no arms. Whoever is desperate to find shall find, alright!
So take great heart, you who are lonely beyond light and life. God is grooming a heart for love in you that will transform your love for others, transcending all previous hope, lighting every future day in love.
Such love for others has this bristling hope: confidence with others is joy and peace within.
Those going to God in fatiguing loneliness are given a transcendent hope; a hope where God is made robust and real.
God makes our relationships swell with love when love swells in our relationship with him.
God teaches us love in how we’re to love him before we’re able to love ourselves or others.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.