Blessed are Those Who Feel Alone

by Charissa Bradstreet, Interim Rector

That is the theme this week for our Lenten devotional. On Sunday I pointed out a line from the prayer printed on the back of the bulletin:

Blessed are you because your loneliness
speaks a deep truth: 
you were never meant to do this alone.

In our catechesis class (a study in preparation for baptism, reaffirmation of faith, confirmation, and reception into the church) we have been looking at how, since the time of creation, God has been inviting humanity into relationship. The experience of relationship that God enjoys within the Trinity is one of profound fellowship and interdependence. God longs for us to find our place within that divine circle of acceptance, delight, comfort, and strength. That is why God keeps going to such great lengths to say, “Come, join us—come learn what can be found in relationship with me and with your neighbor when love is truly at the center.”

And yet, many people struggle with loneliness. It has been described like a disease, something that seems to have tangible impact on our health and wellness. Many Christians will have periods of feeling lonely, even as our prayers remind us that we are not alone. God is with us. The Lenten prayer for Tuesday included these lines:

God is here, and we are never—were never and will never be—alone.
In our hope. In our disappointment. In our Joy. In our pain.
God, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Spirit, have mercy. Amen.

On some days, taking hold of this truth really constitutes an act of faith. We may not feel that God is with us. What we may be most conscious of is the fact that it is only our own dinner plate that rests on the table at mealtime, or that we are driving to a doctor’s appointment on our own and awash in fear, or that something wonderful has just happened and we aren’t sure who might be available right then to go celebrate with us. It takes faith, and perhaps openness, in those moments to create enough room in our minds to welcome the presence that is already there. It is absolutely a different kind of presence than a physical hug, the light shining in someone’s eyes as they gaze at us, or the ring of laughter. But it is no small thing. The companionship of God is every bit as real as the things we see, touch, and hear and sometimes that reality floods into our awareness. I pray that for you—that in those seasons when you feel lonely, and it feels too overwhelming to trust that God is there, God will accompany you in a way that brings deep satisfaction. In a way that reveals God’s capacity to hold you and include you within the circle of acceptance, delight, comfort, and strength enjoyed by the Trinity.

Who do you know to be lonely right now? Who might you pray for? Who might you reach out to and offer a taste of the love God feels for them?

In our modern world, with endless ways to connect, so many feel alone. And yet, God is always inviting us to experience profound fellowship and interdependence. It is one of the reasons for the Church to exist.

[Quotations mentioned above are from the book From The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie.]