Tag: lonely

By Raena Isaacson

Dear Hurting Moms:

“For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” ~Ecclesiastes 4:10

We are not intended to walk this journey alone. When we’re broken, Christ uses friends to help glue our pieces back together.

I’m inclined to hide when I’m suffering. What about you? (more…)

 By Dr. Deb Waterbury

I was having lunch with a beautiful young lady the other day, and we were commiserating on our individual inabilities to remember birthdays and holidays.  She was telling me of a funny time when her mother had broken a cherished bowl.  She found a replacement at the street fair one day in late October and determined herself then that she would buy the bowl and give it to her mother for Christmas.  She forgot, decided to give it to her for Mother’s Day, forgot, and subsequently gave it to her mother for Christmas the next year.  The problem was that she had placed a note in the gift wrapped box that was dated the year before her mother actually got it!  Caught red-handed!

I do that sort of thing all of the time, as I’m sure many of you do too.  I buy things or cards and put them away with full intentions of giving them to a special someone for their birthday or a holiday, only to not just forget where I put the gift or card, but to often forget the special day altogether!  I forget dates, occasions, calls–you name it, and I’ve forgotten it.  My young friend and I laughed together as we named ourselves “Time Capsule Friends”–that is, friends who give gifts late or make calls late so that we serve as a sort of “time capsule event” for the one getting them.  We excused our lack of memory as a sort of service instead.Time capsule

Of course our conversation was all in good fun, but I came face to face with the reality of my behavior while having coffee with another dear friend shortly afterward.

Understand that I am a busy woman.  We all are!  Kids, work, the house, our spouses, our church:  Women are more often than not overworked and over-extended in most areas of their lives. Consequently, my friends and co-workers in ministry are generally very gracious with me when I don’t return calls or occasionally re-schedule or even cancel coffee dates or lunch.  Sweetly they will say, “It’s okay, Deb.  I know you’re busy.”  And I am, just as you are and they are and we all are.  However, is that always a good excuse?  Do we allow our undeniably busy lives to interfere with ministering to one another as friends and loved ones?  Is a busy life an excuse to selfishly ignore the needs of others?

As I alluded to, I had coffee shortly after my lunch with another dear friend.  We had talked for a while, and I noticed that she was stammering a little, obviously trying to figure out how to tell me what was really on her mind.  Suddenly and without warning, she began to weep right there in the coffee shop.

“I’m sorry, Deb, but I need to see you sometimes.  I need time with you, not often, but occasionally.”

I stopped short.  You see, this is not the first time I’ve heard this, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard this recently.  I get so caught up in my work for the Lord that I had begun to forget the work of the Lord.  I write and minister and speak and counsel, and often I think this is the bulk of what I should be doing.  Unfortunately, I sometimes also ignore that all of those things are absolutely nothing without relationship, without love and friendship and really ministering into one another’s lives.

Jesus, the one person in all of  eternity who truly had an excuse to maybe cancel a few coffees and lunches, never did so.  Right after teaching the Sermon on the Mount, He didn’t hesitate to heal the leper or go to the centurion’s house to heal his servant or to heal Peter’s mom or hundreds of others.  He was busy.  He was about the Lord’s work, but our Savior knew that this work was accomplished in relationship and giving time to individuals.

What excuse have you given for not meeting with a friend or a woman who needs you?  Is it your children or your grandchildren or your job or even your ministry?  Sisters, please don’t do what I’ve done and think that it’s somehow a service or even adorably quaint to be a “Time Capsule Friend.”  It isn’t. God has called us to pour into one another’s lives and live in the love exemplified for us by our Savior.

Needless to say, I’ve made a few long overdue calls lately and paid a few long overdue visits.  My work can wait. After all, it’s really meaningless if in it I am not showing the love of Jesus to the people around me.

Do you need to pick up the phone?

By Dr. Deb Waterbury

Have you ever run away from something, and I don’t mean something that might threaten your life?  I mean, has there been a time in your life when you ran because you didn’t want what was in front of you, so you did a 180 and took off like lightening in the opposite direction?

Most of us, if we’ve lived for any length of time, can remember at least one of those times, maybe even more than one.  As Christians, that running most likely involved running from God.  Not too many believers would say that in some way at some time they didn’t run from what God was telling them to do.  After all, there is a little Jonah in all of us.

Abraham Kuyper, the journalist, once wrote,

“Our heart is continually inclined to rebel against the Lord our God.  So ready to rebel, that O, so gladly, were it but for a single day, we would take from His hands the reins of His supreme rule, imagining that we would manage things far better and direct them far more effectively than God.”

What do we do when we find ourselves running?  What do we do when we see someone else running?

If it’s us who’s running, chances are that we don’t even see it.  But if it’s someone that we simply know, either from church or just an acquaintance, we may be tempted to sit in judgment, as if it’s simply their weak constitution or their lax moral integrity that might cause such a detour.  We might simply shake our heads in feigned remorse, thinking, “What is he thinking?  Doesn’t he know that he can’t run from God?”

If it’s a loved one, maybe a child or a spouse or sibling, the pain can be almost immobilizing.  Suddenly all memories of our own course changes are almost non-existent, and the only things we can think are, “What is he doing?  Doesn’t he know that he can’t run from God?”

I don’t know….can we?

Let me remind you of how Jonah did.  In Jonah 1:1, we read:

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah…

That means that God literally let Jonah know exactly what He was thinking.

Then in verse 2, God said to Jonah,

Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

This was not what Jonah expected.  After all, he was the Lord’s prophet.  He was supposed to go and direct his prophecies to the nation of Israel.  He wasn’t supposed to go to Israel’s enemies and prophesy so that they might be saved.  What in the world was God thinking?

Maybe we should think of this in terms that are closer to home.  Maybe the little Jonah in you might sound more like:

“God doesn’t want me in this marriage!  He wants me happy, and I’m not happy here!  What is God thinking?”

Or maybe this:

“God wouldn’t want me to miss out on a better lifestyle.  He says that I will get the desires of my heart, and my heart desires that car or that dress or that house (that I can’t afford).  He wouldn’t keep me from it, would He?  What is God thinking?”

Or maybe our child’s little Jonah says this:

“I’m sick of living under my parents’ thumbs!  God would want me to be independent and do my own thing, no matter who I hurt in the meantime!  He wants me happy, doesn’t He?  What is God thinking?”

The little Jonah in all of us might say slightly different words, but it’s pretty much the same thing.  All of us have listened to the little Jonah some time or another, and we all run for exactly the same reason that Jonah ran.  Verse 3 says,

But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

The truth is that this running isn’t literally from God, since we, as His children, are always and forever His and in His loving care.  However, what we can and do run from is what the literal translation says is the “face of the Lord.”  Jonah was trying to get as far away from where he would be confronted with all that God is.  When we run, we run from the same thing, which generally means we run from the church or our church family or anything else that might remind us of who God is.

There is a reason that many have called Satan the “travel agent of distraction.”  If he can get us away from the “presence of God” or the “face of God,” then he can also deceive us into thinking that we can get away from it, which consequently keeps us from healing and love and peace.  Warren Wiersbe wrote in his book, Be Amazed,

“It’s possible to be out of the will of God and still have circumstances appear to be working on your behalf.  You might be rebelling against God and still have a false sense of security that includes a good night’s sleep.  However, God in his providence was preparing for Jonah a great fall.”

But the good news is that God always provides a fish, doesn’t He?  He always provides exactly the right storm at exactly the right time so that even though we may be distracted temporarily, we are never permanently lost.

Jesus said in John 6:39,

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose none of all that he has given me.

If you are running from the face of God today—refusing to go to church, avoiding your Christian friends, finding every excuse in the book for not getting involved with your believing family—genuinely reflect on the little Jonah in you.  God will not lose you, but I can promise you that it is no fun in the belly of the fish!  Bow before the throne of the One who will never leave you nor forsake you and come home.  Unless it is God you are running toward, you’re headed for the storm.

And if it is a loved one who is running from God’s loving face, take heart and never lose hope.  The promise that Jesus gave in John applies to every one of His children.  The fish is coming.  Keep praying and keep your eyes fixed upward.  God will bring him home.

After all, there is a little Jonah is all of us, but there is a great God who owns our hearts!

________________________

To read more from Dr. Deb Waterbury, visit debwaterbury.com

 

 

By: Dr. Deb Waterbury

Easter. Let’s put all those controversies aside about whether or not we should hunt eggs or have a bunny or whatever else people want to argue about and talk about how lonely those hunts can be.  The kiddos might be hunting wildly for those multi-colored eggs, but look around when that’s happening. What you will invariably see are men and women standing alone or even in little bunches, smiling as if they are enjoying the afternoon, but what they are really doing is wishing that someone…anyone…would notice how utterly miserable they truly are. Of course, some are having fun, but some absolutely are not. The kicker is that pretty much no one notices whether they are or not, and they certainly aren’t telling.

Why is that?

It’s kind of funny that we live in such a streamlined society where everybody is connected to everybody, and yet for the most part, we are utterly and completely alone.  Even conversations at tables in restaurants these days are neglected in favor of checking your Facebook status or email or texts or Twitter.  I’ve sat and watched two people sit together for dinner and never even look at one another, their attentions fully given to whatever handheld device they own at the time.  It’s never been more hazardous than now to walk down the street for fear of any number of passersby running right into you because they’re looking down at their phone instead of where they are walking.

This plague, though commonplace in mainstream society, has unfortunately permeated our Christian lives, as well.  Some of us may live in extremely populated areas, but for some reason we feel nothing but loneliness and isolation from those around us who share the most amazing gift of all time—Jesus!

I have often traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe, this time of year so that I can speak at Easter conferences, and I am always overwhelmed with the words so many of the women there speak to me.  Had they not been speaking Shona, the native language of most of Zimbabwe, the words they were saying would have been exactly the same words I’ve heard over and over again here in America: “I’m so lonely.”   

It’s not that they are alone.  Few of us are ever alone, but the pain of loneliness is rampant among Christians.

How very sad that is. 

So I began to ask myself why that is the case.  Why are members of an eternal family, truly those who are now the bride of Christ, suffering from such a condition?  I mean, I can almost understand how unbelievers might feel lonely.  After all, what do they share with others but a constant desire to figure out how to be happy or content or joyful?  We, however, have been given the key to such things, and we share that key with millions of other people, many of whom live right in our neighborhoods.  If not there, at least there are those with whom we attend church or bible study.

Why are so many of us, all over the world, still so lonely?

I’m convinced that it’s not loneliness that has plagued our existences, but isolation.  Most of us have a tendency to isolate ourselves, either in our sadness or our sin.  We might reveal some things, but for the most part, we live under the misapprehension that our suffering or our sin is somehow more extreme or more dire than anyone else’s.  Either that or we delude ourselves into thinking that we don’t want to burden anyone else with our problems, so we keep them to ourselves, simmering just beneath the surface of the smiles we paste on in public.

Consequently, many of us who have reason for the most joy experience pain that is both unnecessary and unwarranted, which is just the way Satan wants it.  If he can convince us of this lie, then what we should be presenting to the unsaved world—peace and joy that surpasses all understanding—is buried beneath a mountain of misery that lives inside of our heads.

This is precisely why we are to be who God intended His children to be, and that is relational.  We are to belong to a body of believers, not so that we fill a square in the account journal of our sanctification, but so that we can build one another up, hold one another accountable, and fellowship together.  We need our brothers and sisters and we need to seek them out.  Living inside of our own heads is exactly what Satan wants because there is no relationship there. 

My heart hurt for the women of Zimbabwe, just like my heart hurts for every man and woman I meet who suffers from this plague.  It hurt so much that the focus of my work has streamlined to one of building discipleship and relational connection between believers all over the world.  This is a plague that should not be, and all of us must do what we can to extinguish it however we can.

What can you do to either break out of this isolation or help others to do so?  I pray that all of us seriously consider the ramifications of a body of believers who segregate themselves from every other part of the body in horrible isolation.  Move toward relationship with your brothers and sisters.  After all, heaven isn’t going to be a lonely place.  God meant for us to seek relationship with each other and the beauty that comes with that while we are here on earth.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony….Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:12-16)

By Joy Dunkelbarger-Reed

 

March 1, 2015 11:35 am

 

Message from my friend, Daniel:

 

“Joy, call me ASAP.”

 

I tried. No answer. I tried again, and still no answer.

 

I knew in an instant something had happened to my husband, Brent, or else he would have been the one calling me.  I was praying my son, Blake, was safe.

 

The few minutes that went by seemed like hours, but finally I was able to talk to Daniel. There had been an accident at the Imperial Sand Dunes where they had gone camping for the long weekend. A bunch of them, including my husband and son, had gone, and five of them were in our sand car. My husband was driving, my son in the passenger seat and our friend, Daniel, and two other adults were in the back seats. They had been going up and down Test Hill.

 

If you have driven to San Diego on I-8 about 20 miles west of Yuma, you’ve seen it.  It is the big sand hill just north of the interstate with the American Canal running along the base. Trips up and down the hill had been done hundreds of times throughout past trips. This trip, the third time down the hill and as they were making a U-turn to go back up, they lost control.  The front wheel of the car caught in the sand and sent them flipping up into the air and over a large berm. They crashed down hard and rolled into the canal at the bottom of the hill. The water was about 20 feet deep.

 

Daniel said everyone in the car was able to get out, except my husband. They had tried to swim back down to the car, but the current was too swift, and they were not able to reach the car. I was praying he was able to get out of his seat belts and had just been washed down the canal in the strong current and was holding on to the edge somewhere.

 

I was in a panic on the phone. My daughter watched me.  She was frightened and confused.  I had to get there as soon as possible. It was a three and a half hour drive. I was ready to go, but I wasn’t in the position to drive myself and my daughter.  I was able to contact friends to take me, and my daughter was able to stay with my best friend. It was a very long drive. I got a call about half way there that they had pulled the car out of the water, and my husband was still strapped in his seat. He had drowned.

 

I was numb. My only goal now was to be there for my son. Just as we were nearing the turnoff, I saw the severely mangled car on a trailer on the highway going the opposite direction.

 

Finally I was able to be with my son, and thankfully he was physically uninjured with the exception of a few bruises. They didn’t want him to see the car being pulled out of the water so they had taken him away from the crash site. He was in the RV. As I walked in, he ran to me.  He was crying and scared. I held him, and I had to tell him his daddy was dead. His fear turned to anger. How could God let this happen?  He threw his bible down. I told him it was okay to be angry. God has big shoulders and could take it.

 

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

 

The ride home was even longer and extremely painful. We arrived home and I now had to tell my daughter her daddy was dead. The only peace I had during this was knowing that Brent knew Jesus and he was in heaven.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

 

Brent was kind and loving. He was a good father. My children’s earthly father was gone, but their Heavenly Father, has been, and will continue to be there for them.

 

Up until the morning of March 1, 2015, my story consisted of being a wife and a mom to an 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.  I was a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a pharmacist. The list goes on, but just like that, in an instant, “wife” was swapped out for “widow.”  I was a widow?!

 

We all have a story and this was NOT how MY story was supposed to go! Instantaneously and violently the pages of the story I had written had been ripped out and replaced.  My story, as I believed at that point in time, was rewritten as a horror story, a horror story filled with body-trembling fear, chest-crushing anxiety, disbelief by the minute, extreme anger and any other terrible emotion imaginable.

 

Several days after the accident my son and I were talking. I asked him what he remembered.  Did he remember being in the water and how he got out?  It was just assumed that my husband had helped him, but if my husband were able to help Blake, I believe he would have gotten out also. Blake said he remembers the wheel breaking off, the car flipping and landing in the water.  Then he said he tried to lean forward and wasn’t able to move. The car has five point harnesses which aren’t necessarily easy to get out of in a calm situation, let alone under water after a crash.  He said he just wanted to go to sleep.  He looked up and could see the sun shining down through the water.  He said he prayed for God to help him get out of the seat belt.  He leaned forward again and was able to get free and swim to the surface. He was wearing shoes and a heavy jacket so that made it difficult to swim. God immediately answered his prayer for help to get out of that car.

 

As I look at the original message from Daniel, for only the second time since it was sent, I am now two years into the pages of my “new” story.  But is it really a “new” story?  Perhaps to me it is, but as far as God is concerned, it isn’t. My story was already written specifically for me by Him.  He knew exactly what was going to happen that March morning, every day before and every day after. We all have a story given to us by God and He trusts us with those stories.

 

God allowed the accident to happen.  My faith and trust in God was great before the accident, but they have grown exponentially since.  Looking back on it, I can recall specific situations before the accident where God was preparing me for this part of my story.  People say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I believe this statement is true as long as you allow Him in so that He can help you handle it. I could not have survived any of this on my own.

 

This journey has been anything but easy.  There has been extensive pain throughout, both seen and unseen, but with His presence there has been unexplainable peace, answered prayers, major growth, multiple lessons and blessings experienced.  He has a plan for my story, and I will continue to trust His plan with all my heart.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

beach photoBy: Miryea Gist

 

Lately, scrolling through Facebook has become much more than a mindless activity full of relatable photos, memes, and hilarious videos. Instead, I’ve learned to view it as an opportunity to obtain a glimpse into the lives, minds, and hearts of many friends and family members on social media. This morning, during my daily scroll through the incessantly, inordinate Facebook feature otherwise known as “newsfeed,” I came across a post from a young lady that caught my eye and peeked my interest. The post was barely noticeable, only comprised of two words. Yet, those two words shot through my body and into my soul like a burst of electricity. Those two words stayed in my head all day like a catchy tune, and at night, hovered over my mind like a storm cloud. The post came from a young lady who struggles with dysthymia, also known as chronic depression. Those two words were: nobody understands.

 

A love we crave

Biblically speaking, a man’s purpose is to know God, and to spend eternity relishing in the enjoyment of Him. We were created to experience intimacy with the God of the universe, and to spend our days pursuing the knowledge of Him. In light of this, I believe that an inevitable characteristic of this design for humans to know, is a desire to be known. Humans were created to know, and be known by God Himself. Naturally, this desire to be known has been tainted by the fall, and sin has perverted a right desire, into one full of selfish ambition and personal glory. This is wildly evident in today’s culture through a yearning for fame, and an insatiable desire for attention from those of the opposite gender. This yearning to be known is especially evident within this age of technology. We desire so much to be known, that we create various social media as platforms to showcase ourselves. We spend hours upon hours designing boards we feel best represent our style, hobbies, dreams and ambitions, taste in music, movies and food. We tweet our every move in order to keep the world up-to-date on our lives. We take the time to fill out silly questionnaires and “like” different pages so that our friends can know us better. Our human desire to be known is evident in every aspect of our lives.

It can be said—to be known, is to be loved. Or better yet, to be loved, is to be known. We see this truth played out in Matthew 7:23 and John 10:14-15. In Matthew, the Lord rebukes the one who does not belong to Him with the terrifying statement “I never knew you…” while in the gospel of John, Jesus uses the knowledge of His children to claim them as His own stating: “I know my own and my own know me.”

Humans crave an understanding kind of love. A love that knows truly, sincerely, and deeply. A comprehending love, a grasping love—an intimate love that can fathom them. To know God, and to be known by Him is the only redemption.

                  

Fully God, fully man

As I read the words, “nobody understands,” a verse immediately came to mind. No, it wasn’t Psalm 119, nor was it Psalm 139. The verse that came to mind, was the end of Hebrews chapter four, and beginning of Hebrews chapter 5:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (5) For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.

In the Old Testament, the duty of a priest was to operate as intercessor between God and the people. He would offer sacrifices on behalf of the people, but also for himself since he too was a sinner. Because of this, the priest was able to show compassion towards the people, since he himself was beset with weakness. Of course, after Christ’s death and resurrection, we are able to have access to the Father and to experience intimacy with Him. Jesus Christ, as the great and final high priest, bridged the gap between a holy God and fallen man.

But we know this. We know God sent his Son to live the life of perfect obedience which we could never attain. We understand that it is only the sinless life and righteousness of Jesus Christ that makes us right before God. Most believers have no problem understanding the fact that Christ was sinless, and this is because we grasp His deity. However, I believe many Christians fail to comprehend the aspect of Christ that legitimized Him as a sacrifice, which is His humanity.

The incarnation of God is an astounding facet of the gospel. As J.I. Packer stated: “Here are two mysteries for the price of one — the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus. . . . Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the Incarnation.”

We are confident in Christ’s deity, yet oftentimes, we undermine His humanity. Nonetheless, the truth of Jesus’s humanity is to be regarded just as important as the truth of His deity. We know from the Word of God two things to be absolutely sure: Jesus has two natures—God and man. And each nature is full and complete—He is fully God, and fully man (Colossians 2:9, John 1:14, Hebrews 2:14). But what does it mean that Christ was fully man? It simply means this: that Jesus was exposed to all the limitation of man. He required all things you and I require in order to survive… food, drink, and sleep. He was not exempt from the things which confide us, such as gravity, pain, fatigue, and illness. Because He was bound to all the limitations of man, this includes the temptation we experience. He Himself was tempted, as Hebrews says, “in every respect.”

Hopefully this truth will lead the believer to ask the question; why? Why would the God of the universe willingly subject Himself to the limitations of man? The beginning of Hebrews tells us it is so that He can deal gently with the ignorant, and the wayward since He Himself was beset with weakness.

He understands

How beautiful is that? This perfectly holy being chose to subject Himself to temptation in order to deal gently with us. The Creator willingly humbled Himself to walk amongst the creation, so that we might know one who understands. The one who spoke and caused all to be, the one who the wind and the waves obey, the one who commands the tiniest of bacteria, to the greatest of all mammals—He understands. In the God of all creation, we find the greatest love—a sacrificial, sympathetic, and understanding love.

I urge you, never again to be dismayed by the lie designed by Satan to isolate you. The lie that you are alone, and misunderstood. The King of kings understands more than you’re capable of comprehending. What a shame it is to walk through life believing no one understands or cares, and what an offense it is to a God who left His throne to demonstrate how much He does.

_________________________

Miryea attends The Masters College majoring in English with a minor in Bible. With her degree, she plans to teach middle school English as well as continue to enjoy, and further develop her passion for writing. Born and raised in Arizona, she was home schooled from first through twelfth grade, and is the eldest of two.