Loneliness is the cruelest tyrant that a human can know. There is no discouragement, pain, or heartache like one experiences when they have sunk into the depths of loneliness. It is dark and heavy, and there are no words to express the feeling of being utterly alone.
Humans were never meant to experience loneliness. We are inherently wired to thrive off meaningful connections and community (yes, even introverts). One of the earliest declarations by God in the Bible is that ‘It is not good for man [human] to be alone.’ [This ‘alone’ is not singleness, but the state of being without companions to share life with in true fellowship.]
We are a generation suffering under the oppression of loneliness like none before.
It steals energy and motivation, it clouds judgement, it cripples those who battle against it and drives them further into despair and isolation. Worst of all, it works under the surface. It breaks us from the inside out, so that by the time others can see how debilitated we are, it is often too late.
I was once debilitated by loneliness and depression. The pain it caused was too great to bear, and it broke me as a person in ways I cannot adequately describe. It was agonizing. I’ve described it a few times as feeling very really like I was drowning, like each breath was excruciating. Like I was dying but never dead.
In the darkest days, the months leading up to half-attempted suicide, nothing was comforting to me. There was nothing I could read, nothing I could hear, nothing I could pray that would bring peace to my soul. I would cry and scream out to God. I would actively “ignore” God. I would be angry at Him. Violently angry. I felt as though I was in a dark pit which was, with every passing day, sinking further to hell while God stood somewhere at the top looking down at me apathetically.
Looking back on those days now, I know that despite what I felt, I was not alone in that pit.
There is a song, Oh Praise the Name, by Hillsong Worship. The first time I heard this song, after I had started my recovery from mental illness, two lines pierced my heart:
The entrance sealed by heavy stone,
Messiah still and all alone.
The grave, I feel, has been largely overlooked in the Jesus story. We love to talk about the cross, and we love to talk about the resurrection, but it is in the grave that I have found some of the greatest comfort in the world.
In the grave Jesus was completely, utterly alone.
In his dying he paid for our sins, and in his resurrection we have eternal life. But in his death he knew what it was to be abandoned by everyone, abandoned by God, in a completeness that we could never even know.
When I was alone, there was still a God to cry out to. There was still a God to feel forsaken by. There was still a God who I could be angry at. Because Jesus entered the darkness of death, the light of God was always there, even when I felt untouched by it.
In the grave, Jesus sat with me. In the grave he embraced me. In the grave he knew my pain and felt my tears. In the grave he hurt with me, cried with me, and stayed with me even when I could not see. Sometimes it’s in the grave where Jesus truly meets with us.
At Easter time I remember the truth of Hebrews 2:9, that Jesus suffered death so that he might taste death for everyone. He is not ignorant of nor unmoved by our suffering. He suffered and died so that he could know our pain.
When we are lonely, we can cry out to Jesus knowing that he cried out to God too. We can know that he will sit with us and grieve with us in our pain, even when we are too weak to pray. We can be confident that our God cares deeply for us and is moved by our pain, and that He wants us to know this.
So this Easter, I praise God for the cross, our redemption. I praise God for the resurrection, our life. I praise God for the grave, our great comfort in the darkest nights. I praise God for Jesus Christ, my King, my Saviour, my brother, my God.