Do you ever lie in bed and listen to your own heartbeat and feel a bit alone? Feel like people and maybe even God have left? Or do you lie awake because you have freedom but no idea where to go and what to do next, or because you've reached a dead-end? Perhaps you're struggling through waves of doubting yourself or Jesus. Maybe you'd check "all of the above." I know what it's like. I'm sure we've all been here, friends: lonely, uncertain about what's next, or doubtful. You are not alone.
Over and over again, in both life and Scripture, I've started to become aware of a subtle, striking pattern. Look for it, and you'll find it often. In the loneliest hours of the soul, during the bleakest situations, when questions start to surface, and when something seems impossible, there is the promise of a bright sunrise chasing away darkness; something new and holy can happen.
I wonder if Mary, the very mother of Jesus, felt like we do sometimes. What happened after the angel Gabriel visited Mary and she agreed to birth God incarnate? The angel departed. Now, I don't know for sure, but I think Mary, knowing what becoming a mother meant and how people could respond to her unwed pregnancy, may have felt alone. She may have felt uncertain or confused, and she very well could have doubted this would ever be something good. Yet, Mary was not alone... Through her surrendered willingness, the Light of the world came.
Think of Cornelius... An angel came to him, too, and told him about a man 75 miles away he was to meet. And then? The angel left. Did Cornelius feel abandoned or confused? Maybe. Later we see that through Cornelius God opened His doors wide to all people, both Jew and Gentile.
Even Jesus cried out on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" He died, but He did not stay dead because He rose victorious. He's the Savior of the world and God's chosen Son, and still He experienced what we go through.
Consider the disciples who saw the risen Christ, worshiped Him, and then doubted. What was Jesus' response? "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit... And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Jesus answered whatever kind of doubt or uncertainty the disciples were experiencing by empowering and commissioning them to do amazing things with Him.
What does this mean for us? I have an idea, personally experienced: If we offer them to Him, sometimes the moments in which we feel deserted and doubtful can be used by God to remind us of His deep love, illuminate His constant presence, or birth something truly miraculous.
Is it hard? Oh, yes. When voices scream or quietly mutter that everyone's left you, you can look those ugly lies straight-on and call them what they are. If they tell you that you're a failure (so why even try?) or there's no hope, lift your head and speak: "I'm going to follow Jesus (even if I take one short step at a time), and I'll reach out to Him because He's the hope of my heart and all of us."
If they're silent but the silence is loud, you can say beautiful truth: "I am not actually alone." You can shout or whisper or cry, "Jesus!" and He'll come, only for you to realize He never really left. You can look to Jesus to bring new things and redemption. Leaning hard on Him is brave and freeing.
Friends, I don't know where you are or how you feel. You may be longing for loyal friends or just a smile or true community, hoping for direction, or facing doubt. And I understand. I'm not telling you trusting Jesus is going to erase every second of feeling alone, lost, or doubtful (because that's just not true). I am telling you He's there with you, there are people who love you, and dry seasons don't last forever. This– life– takes time; we're on a journey. I'm grateful for people who aren't afraid of silence or hard questions, know how to listen, and won't stop being there... and especially for Jesus, Who simply asks us to follow Him and shows us the scars on His hands when we doubt.
I challenge us to live expectantly and hopefully, with open hands. When you feel lonely or confused or uncertain, look desperately for Jesus' presence and fall on the bedrock of His love for you. When the path ahead is clear and you're with people, remind yourself and them of His nearness; press in together. And no matter what you and I feel? We're not alone.