The loneliness of Christ, separated from the heavenly courts, living the life of humanity, was never understood or appreciated by the disciples as it should have been. . . When Jesus was no longer with them, . . . they began to see how they might have shown Him attentions that would have brought gladness to His heart. . . . Our Father Cares, p 208
The holidays can be the loneliest time of the year. For some of us, the recently departed holidays are times of special connection with family members, some of whom we don’t get to see often. This time of connection with those we love elevates Thanksgiving and Christmas to a special place in our hearts because of the relationships that they represent. At the very least, they mean that we are with annoying relatives for a limited period of time. However, for others, the connection that some experience during the holidays deepens an already encompassing loneliness.
One can already be lonely, but to see, or perceive, the connection that others experience during the holidays makes one’s own loneliness more acute. “I’m so alone. I wish someone would have an interest in me. It seems like when I even do get an invitation, no one really cares about me.” The winter gray and cold in the northern hemisphere can lock in this depression. “Can anyone understand what I’m experiencing?”
Isaiah 63:3 – “I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me.”
Jesus knows what it’s like to be lonely, and to be misunderstood. Growing up He was the good kid, the one who always did what was right. That always draws the ire of other kids (it did for me). He was picked on and misunderstood by his own family and brothers. He worked for years in a backwater town preparing for His calling. Even his own mother, who had the best idea of who He was, didn’t truly understand, and sometimes put Him in awkward situations. His disciples didn’t really understand Him until He was gone, and then they realized the missed opportunities they had to help and comfort Him in His trials. They left Him alone when He needed them the most.
Genesis 2:18 – And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.
God has made us to be fundamentally social beings. We need other people in order to live healthy lives. The absence of positive relationships leaves a hole inside us that contains real pain. I’ve experienced loneliness myself. I know what it’s like to feel alone in a crowd of people. I know what it’s like to be the person who doesn’t get invited over, or to be alone in a new area without an established social network yet. It is undeniably painful. Since the beginning, loneliness is not something God intended us to face.
Hebrews 13:5 – For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
In these moments when we are alone, we can hold onto one central promise: God will never leave us alone. Though others might leave us, abandon us, betray us, or if we do the same to others, God never will. He knows what it’s like to be lonely. In those times between when we feel connected with others, which is God’s plan for us, we can know that God is with us, and we have his sympathy.
Isaiah 53:4 – Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
The Godhead itself experienced a separation. The Son voluntarily came to become one of us, to live life as we live life. He came to connect us permanently to heaven, with a bridge that can never be broken. He came to let us know that He understands, that He can relate. Jesus did experience loneliness while He was here, and perhaps a loneliness we ourselves haven’t experienced. To be separated from friends is painful. To be separated from family even more so. But to be separated from the Divine union, a bond which had never been broken through all eternity led Him to exclaim, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He allowed Himself to carry our sorrows to the bitter end, so that, when His mission was completed, we would be able to trust Him, to know that He understands, and to know that He is always with us.
God ultimately wants us to have strong connections with others. If you aren’t experiencing that, pray for it. Look for it among a healthy body of believers. Look for it by helping others who are in a more difficult place than yourself. Look for it by being the one who initiates being friendly.
But in the meantime. In the periods of loneliness when hope is dim in a land of pain, know that Jesus understands. He wants to draw close to you and provide companionship in the dry times through His word and through His Spirit. He can relate.
Acts 17:27 – He is not far from each one of us.