Ever felt alone? Jesus did too. That’s right. Messiah. Creator. Savior of the world. Even he dealt with loneliness. After all, one of the reasons he became one of us was to understand what we go through each day on this terrestrial ball. But unlike us, Jesus refused to give in to the temptation to fixate on that feeling. Jesus beat loneliness by speaking the truth to himself.
It happened at least once, most noticeably as he gave his disciples a final briefing just prior to his crucifixion. He knew it was coming. They didn’t. They had been following him around for three years. Jesus shared some final instructions for them (translation mine):
“Hey guys, it’s time for me to go back to my Father. A little while longer, and you won’t see Me; and again a little while after that and you will see Me, because I’m go to my Father.”
His disciples whispered amongst themselves: “What’s he talking about?! He’s going away then coming back? We don’t even know what he’s saying!”
Jesus knew their thoughts, so he simplified further: “Look, it’s going to be tough for a while guys. I’m not going to hide the truth from you. It’s like this: I came from the Father. And now I have to go back to the Father. But I’ll be back. Get it?”
His disciples answered in what they thought would be an encouraging way – although they really just didn’t want Jesus to think they were stupid. “Ah, now we get it! Now you’re speaking plainly. Enough of that figurative language stuff. Now we truly believe that you came from God!”
“Now?!” Jesus sputters in disbelief, a blank stare on his haggard face. “Now, after three years, after all we’ve been through, you want to pretend that you actually get it when what you think you get isn’t even what I was trying to tell you in the first place? Look, here’s the deal, all you ‘believers.’ Before you know it, you’re all going to be running away like a bunch of little schoolgirls who just found frogs in their togas.”
“And I will be alone.”
Here is where Jesus feels the full blast of the temptation to fixate on his loneliness. After three years of daily dicipleship, jaw-dropping miracles, and intensive teaching, his closest followers still didn’t get it. And he was out of time. What a depleting feeling of failure must have flooded his soul at that moment! Add to that his full awareness of the horrors about to befall him and the emotional load must have been unbearable. Except, incredibly, it wasn’t.
He beat the loneliness by speaking the truth to himself:
“But I am not alone, for the Father is with me. And, not only that, be of good cheer, guys! Why don’t you all hang out with me here while I pray for you to my Father?”
Unbelievable. I would have thrown something – or at least un-friended them on FishBook first chance I got. Instead, Jesus left an example of how each of us can beat loneliness. Here’s how he did it :
- Face the Facts. People – all people – will let you down. If your mood is based on the reaction of others, you’re in for a tough life. As John Maxwell points out, people will be total jerks sometimes – love them anyways. Jesus certainly did. If he’d had a camel, Jesus could have easily slapped on the “I’m surrounded by Idiots!” bumper sticker on several occasions. He didn’t. Expect to have to put up with people who just don’t get it. Love them anyways.
- Take Your Vitamins. Jesus had spent his life studying and teaching the Scriptures. By saturating his life with truth, he had built up an immunity to loneliness. It helped that He was truth incarnate, but still. The reality was that He was not alone. Even though He felt like it at that moment. Jesus beat the loneliness by speaking the truth to himself – in spite of his feelings – at that darkest moment. He had taken his Biblical vitamins regularly. When the temptation came, he was able to summon the truth to his rescue. Stay up on your own truth vitamins. See my recent posts for tips as needed: “How to Read the Bible Every Day and Enjoy It!” and “3 Proven Plans to Read the Bible Every Day.”
- Keep a Truth Shot Ready. I liken what Jesus did at that moment to administering an emergency injection. A shot of adrenalin to jumpstart a failed heart. A dose of insulin for the diabetic nearly slipping into a coma. An epi-pen for a child with extreme allergies. In the moment of crisis, there’s no time for therapy. Jesus grabbed a shot of truth and plunged it into his heart – just in time. When we feel ourselves slipping into self-pity and despair, we must have an emergency supply of truth ready to inject into our souls. If you struggle with loneliness, prepare some shots of truth like these:
Keep verses like these on a card in your wallet or purse, on Evernote, in your day planner system, or just posted on the fridge. Be ready to inject them at a moment’s notice to beat loneliness the way Jesus did – with the truth.
What ways have you found to apply truth to your heart when feeling lonely? Share your own tips with a comment for others to grow.