So many of us are experiencing intense feelings of isolation. A sense of disconnectedness and an absence of community, color much of our days. We feel alone. We often imagine we are the only ones grappling with a permeating sense of despair, angst and anxiety. We realize we have so much to be thankful for and we want to plant ourselves in an abyss of gratitude. Yet, we find our minds ruminating over all of the what-ifs, in a world that has never felt more uncertain and unstable. A war rages on in our minds and within our hearts as we seek to be fully present, thankful, and exude joy and grace, in the mundane.
As I pondered the impact of our world’s more rigid, less comfortable, more anxiety ridden, less human contact affording, manner of existing, my heart felt heavy. Lack of human contact and elusive ease with which we once interacted, has had an indelible imprint on each of us. Yet, last night, I was reminded in all of this, we are not alone. As I drove, I listened to Kari Jobe’s song: I Am Not Alone, allowing the words to imbue me with God’s restorative truth. Additionally, God made His presence known to me, on the horizon.
When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear
In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear
You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me
Paul Miller’s book, J-Curve, has been transformational as I contemplate the impact of Jesus’s life infusing mine; walking in step with Him throughout each day. His book’s emphasis focuses on how Jesus’s death and subsequent resurrection, should be mirrored in our life, on a daily basis. As we face situations, our “death” is seen when you and I lay down our lives, of our own accord. We surrender, receiving the suffering that comes across our path, just as Jesus did. Our human nature recoils from anything that brings forth pain. Yet, Jesus bids us to embrace suffering, which will assuredly come to all, as a gift… even something we can receive with joy. A gift? Yes. A gift that allows for us to become more like Him.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, wherever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~James 1:2-4
This notion of humbling ourselves and dying to what we want, need, and expect, displays itself routinely, in relationships, aspirations, desires, and the like. The connection between embodying suffering and allowing the death of our nature to run its course, is revolutionary and necessary, to bring forth what Jesus experienced: resurrection. Yet, the primary obstacle is our aversion to discomfort and agony, which causes us to retreat from suffering/”death”. By thwarting the process of suffering, we hijack God’s intended goal, which is resurrection. Therefore, perseverance in the “dying”/suffering process is paramount in order to experience the resurrection that inevitably follows.
Paul E. Miller states the following in addition to the three bullet points offered below, “In an increasingly hopeless world, the hope of the resurrection is everything.”
- We live expectantly, watching for God to work.
- We pray expectantly for God to work.
- We focus on the good and not the bad.
In John 16:32, Jesus demonstrates while He was left all alone, He had the unflappable confidence, God was with Him. Always. Jesus knew He was never alone. And neither are we. Through every fear, doubt, concern, irritation, disappointment, surprising piece of news, and heart-wrenching ache, God is with you.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. ~Deuteronomy 31:8
We must choose to embrace all the uncertainty and suffering of this life, while living in hopeful expectation of God’s providential hand actively working, on our behalf. He allows feelings of isolation and angst to highlight our need for Him. Leaning into Jesus and inviting Him into the trivialities of life, as well as those things that seize our attention, promotes peace. Hold out hope for the resurrection life that unquestionably will come as Jesus infuses you and me with His acceptance of death. He will steady us and remain connected to us throughout the process. He will bring forth rebirth, transformation, and a likeness within each of us, that will reflect the heart of God. He is with you. You. Are. Not. Alone.
If I follow Jesus’s path, I’m freed from trying to control the path, or take an early exit, because it’s not my path; it’s His. ~Paul E. Miller