I am struck by the number of times God walks His saints through lonely territory.
For Moses, there was a 40 year gap between his Egyptian upbringing and a return home as Israel’s leader. Joseph must have cried out repeatedly from his dungeon for home and familiar faces. David was chased from his familiar by the anger of Saul. (Read the Psalms with loneliness in mind.) Jesus spent at least 40 days alone and tasted the depth of isolation through Gethsemane and Calvary. If God nudges us into lonely spaces -there must be a reason. What good can loneliness do for us? Much.
The state of missing surfaces our deep desires. All of life’s lint gets brushed away in loneliness. You will know what matters after a season of it. Loneliness is a reflection of our soul’s condition. We walk this earth with perpetual longing. We are shaped for God and eternity - but we have to wait. As abundant as this earth is, it is still a wilderness that stands between us and home. Re-read Song of Solomon and hear the cry of a lover who misses the Beloved. It’s the whisper of our hearts as well. God is never absent, but neither do we know Him as we could or as we will. A healthy soul is lonely for God. Our sense of longing is not a problem to be relieved. It is love’s expression from what is, longing for what will yet be.
Since there is such a thing as spiritual loneliness, it’s good to remember how to respond to it. There are no substitutes. No one or no thing can substitute for our Beloved. Distractions are no answer. Entertainment, work, leisure, parties, not even Church can fill the void. Spiritual loneliness is not to be solved, but has to be experienced. Its benefit is this. It pulls us in His direction. And while it may feel uncomfortable, it is not terminal. These soul cravings are met with grace. The hungers of heart lead us to life.
“As the deer pants for flowing streams. so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God.” Ps. 42:1,2