"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Luke 5:16.
I've been thinking alot about this verse, this week. Jesus withdrew to lonely places. I find myself in a lonely place. A lonely place that I would rather not be in. I do have friends and family who are standing by me, but, dear reader, I am sure you can relate ... suffering is still lonely.
Different versions of the bible translate "lonely" as "wilderness" or "desert" or "deserted places." I don't really want to withdraw in to my lonely place, but maybe, at times, this is the best place where I can meet God alone. Jesus knew that it was important to get away from the crowds, and have time with The Father. I want to learn how to embrace my lonely place to do the same.
I believe that it is in the solitude of our suffering that God teaches us things about Himself that we could not learn anywhere else. We can learn these things through opening our hearts to what God has to say to us in His Word and prayer. In our loneliness, we realize our longings. Our longings for knowing God, our longings for truly knowing ourselves through God's eyes, and our longings for a vision for our life, the special plan that God has for us.
Amidst the crowds and craziness and demands of life, we often do not want to withdraw in to these lonely places. We would rather avoid them or deny them. It can be scary.
But God has special gifts for us in our loneliness. My dear friend, Anne, will often tell me, "Just lean in to the pain." It's hard to do. I'd rather not. However, I have found, that in the leaning, I am learning more of God's love for me. And in leaning in to the pain, I find myself resting in His arms.