If you’ve been alive for a decade or two, there is a large possibility that you’ve been hurt, felt abandoned, left out, or lonely. As much as we plan and dream for a perfect life the way we’ve mapped it out, it just doesn’t turn out the way we expected much of the time. There will be days, months, and years that you wondered what in the world just happened. During the holiday season, for many, the time of reflection is lonely and painful instead of jubilant and joyful. You can find yourself looking around at all the happy people feeling dejected and bitter, wondering why this is happening to you.
I know because I’ve been there. During one Christmas I had just lost my job. During one Christmas I had just found out I had cancer. While there are much worse things to endure than either of these hardships, I felt immense loss during both of these journeys. So, I wanted to reach out to those of you who are in valleys right now, wondering if you’ll see the sunshine again. Wondering if you’ll be happy again. Wondering if you’ll have strength and health again. And wondering if you’ll make it through.
I have several friends who are going through major life challenges right now – divorce, major illness, life-threatening situations. So, my heart particularly aches for them when they’re alone. I am reminded of a time I felt so alone a few nights before my double mastectomy two years ago.
Lying in bed at 3:00 am, I couldn’t sleep. Worries about the surgery, the cancer, my self-image, my kids, my future, taunted me and wouldn’t let me get the sleep I so desperately needed. I cried, feeling so alone and scared. I knew I could call any family member or friend and get the reassurance I needed. They had all been by my side when they could.
But there were times no one could be with me. During the hour long painful biopsy, I was alone. During the long MRI in a dark tube, I was alone. During surgeries, I would be alone. After the surgery, with my new body, I would be alone. It all overcame me at once. I am alone. Beth Moore, in her Bible study, Entrusted, said it well, “We don’t have to be deserted to feel all alone. All it takes is being in a place no one else can fully enter.” Yeah, that’s where I was. All alone.
In 2 Timothy 4:17, Paul was imprisoned for the last time for preaching the gospel. He knew he was near his end and everyone had deserted him. He wrote, “But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.”
God strengthened me that night by reminding me of when Jesus was alone in the garden of Gethsemane right before he died. In Mark 14:33, Jesus was very distressed and troubled about what was to come. He asked His disciples to wait while he prayed. He asked God to save Him from death, but that if it was in God’s will, He wanted His will to be done. But, when He checked back with his friends, they were sleeping.
He was alone! Jesus was alone and worried. Just like you and me. He knew what he was about to endure, but because He loved us so much, He went ahead with it so we could be saved. So, we could know that when everyone else was everywhere else, He was there.
During one of my low points I heard a sermon by Max Lucado that I’ve returned to often over the years, titled, “You’ll Get Through This.” The quote I hung onto was this. “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. Don’t be foolish or naïve. But don’t despair either. With God’s help, you’ll get through this.”
Friend, I feel your pain right now in my heart like it was my own. Please know I am praying for you wherever you are. But even more, please know that God is with you when no one else can be. So, during this time of joy and bright lights, reach out to the one who will never leave you and find peace in your storm. He is there.