7 February 2014

Alone Again (Naturally)

It's amazing, the things that run through my mind sometimes...

As I have been reflecting on my last blog post about Knight Rider, I couldn't help but dwell for a bit on the concept of the lone adventurer, seeking to right wrongs in society. It's a popular theme in 20th and 21st Century popular culture, isn't it? The white-hat-toting Western sheriff; the detective who doggedly stays on the case; the time-traveller who appears just in time to sort out a problem; the fearless superhero. Those are my generation's role models.

As I eluded to in my last post, being alone and being lonely are two different things. As an introvert I have learnt the hard way about the importance of including some 'me time' into the equation, in order to escape from an increasingly noisy world - but that doesn't mean I want to be lonely. You can be alone without being lonely. However, you can be lonely in a crowded room!

Loneliness is, therefore, a state of mind, an emotive reaction to feelings of separation from other human beings. If you are lonely you feel isolated, cut off from your peers. Perhaps you lack like-minded friends; a supportive community; the love of a family; a soulmate...

It's a common theme. The title of this blog entry comes from a 1970's song by Gilbert O'Sullivan. An introspective ballad, it tells the sad story of a man left at the altar by his prospective bride. Left on his own...

Scripture talks about loneliness, of course. In the Old Testament one Hebrew word for loneliness is badad which means isolated, separated, withdrawn. This word is used in Genesis 2:18 which says: "it is not good for man to be alone."

Another Hebrew word for loneliness is yahid which means solitary or isolated. This word is used in Psalm 25:16 - "I am lonely and afflicted."

No one felt loneliness more keenly than King David. His own son rose up against him, the Israelites massed against him and he was forced to flee, leaving behind his house and the rest of his family. David cried out to God in his loneliness and despair; pleading for mercy and for God’s intervention (Psalm 25).

It is interesting to note that the word 'lonely' is never used in the New Testament to describe people. In the New Testament the Greek word for loneliness is eremos meaning abandoned or solitary. For example, Luke 4:42: "He departed and went to a lonely place". It refers to desolate places, like the wilderness where Jesus went off to be alone.

Thus, the Bible reveals that there is often a positive side to being alone. It's an opportunity to retreat, rest, and to talk with God. Jesus did this frequently, therefore I take this as a sign that we should do this, too...

Through our relationship with Christ, we have a special bond, a special fellowship. It's the sort of relationship that has reassured and encouraged those saints who have languished in prisons for their faith. He is a friend who "sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24), who lays down His life for His friends (John 15:13-15), and who has promised never to leave us or forsake us - He is with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Anyone can face moments of loneliness - times when you long to be known and to be loved. But we are reminded that God knows us, loves us and that God hears our cries. God is always with us.

As for me, perhaps I am not Michael Knight, Bruce Wayne, or even the Lone Ranger. However much I feel inclined to be. However, there is one thing. I'm not out there on my own.

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