I was surrounded by people but lonely and depressed.
My family was turned upside down. A spouse walked away, a daughter left for college and a son moved in with his mom. Only the dog and I were left, and he just lay around and slept.
But a loving church family adopted me and put me to work running the visual system and teaching a small group Bible study. Activities for involvement were rampant. An office of caring people kept me occupied during the day. I was loved and encompassed but felt alone.
The prodigal son must have felt the same: Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living (Luke 15:13 NIV).
In an unusual turn of events, a father agreed to give his son his inheritance before his death knowing the son was on the verge of spiritual disaster. While his money lasted, friends did too, but when the first ran out the second promptly followed.
I suppose the prodigal was lonely even when with his friends. Loneliness can meander in a crowd. I know; I’ve been introduced. Sadness and emptiness can lurk amidst laughter, smiles and apparent enjoyment. Conflicting emotions also appear when outside God’s will, and the son was.
Disobedience to God never takes us where it promises. It cost Adam and Eve Paradise and Moses a trip to the Promised Land. People may surround us when we’re following the crowd but the wrong crowd only delivers loneliness, disappointment, emptiness and failure.
Loneliness also has a bad habit of appearing during the holiday season. Memories of family members who have died, loved ones who are stationed on military bases and can’t come home or friends who have moved away haunt us.
Regardless of the loneliness’ origin, I’ve learned going to the Father is sufficient. The prodigal did too. God’s shoulders are broad enough to bear my burdens and his heart big enough to absorb my tears. Let God comfort you when loneliness creeps in.
Prayer: God, when we’re overcome by the loneliness of life, soothe us with Your loving embrace.