Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
Last night I had a friend call me. She’d had a vivid dream/vision of me and she wanted to share it with me. I know this friend to be prophetic and full of unadulterated joy and confidence in the Spirit, so I was excited and intrigued by what she had seen.
Retelling the details of the dream isn’t as important as what the Lord said to me through it. He didn’t want me to be lonely. He wanted me to know that if I dwell in a place of loneliness I will begin to feel desperate and trapped, but He has opened the doors wide to green pastures and He is leading me gently by the hand.
Of course this has great value for me, especially since my husband travels internationally regularly to share the Gospel. But I also can’t help but see that the Lord wants us all to know the freedom of His leadership and companionship.
I’m often guilty of putting my hope for fellowship in the presence of my husband and friends. And when I do that I am satisfied for the moment, but sorely lacking when those people are not accessible. Not so with God. He is always there. He adores me and longs to spend time with me. He wants to lead me beside still waters and restore my soul.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
He wants to restore me, comfort me, and BE WITH ME. And yet my heart strays away, in search of worldly comforts, and worldly desires, even though those comforts and desires only lead to death.
Now, in the midst of loneliness, praying for my husband as he brings the Gospel to dangerous places and I go to bed alone, I am reminded that God is longing for me. His graciousness and enduring love are infinite and yet they are fully personal to me. When my heart is heavy with the affliction of loneliness and fear, God hears me and hungers for me to draw closer to Him.
When my friend called me last night, she encouraged me to reach out to my friends so that I could receive the gifts of blessing the Lord has for me through them. But as I meditated on the words she had given me, all I could think of is the longing the Lord has for me, and I’ve pushed away the idea of fellowship with Believers.
I want to put my focus on communion with Him, first and foremost, but I seem to do it at the expense of community with my brothers and sisters. Only in Him are my troubles settled and my sins forgiven. My sin of dependency of other things besides God. My sin of fear. My sin of doubt. My sin of defeat. All of them keep me from trusting in the Lord with all my heart.
I am victorious in the Lord! I have been promised abundant life. I have been given victory over my enemies.
Even though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
I have been promised comfort in the midst of my trial. I have been promised courage and not fear. Jesus brings comfort when I let Him lead me. So often I don’t let Him!
I have everything I need when I am in the Presence of the Living God.
But seeking out friends for fellowship and encouragement also has so much value. Too often the Lord reminds of the truth of peace in His Presence and so I proclaim it over myself and don’t see results. Now I know why. God doesn’t want us to be lonely. He made us to dwell in unity.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
Sure, I need my alone time with the Lord, but I also need my fellowship with the Body of Christ, so that my family and I can share our gifts from God with one another, so that we can be encouraged, healed, inspired, and exhorted, just to name a few. There is a happy balance between the enduring and constant fellowship the Lord wants to have with us, and also in the fellowship that we should have together.
Jesus even prayed for us to be in unity with our brothers and sisters in Him:
15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Therefore my prayer is this:
Lord lead me beside still waters, restore my soul, turn to me and be gracious to me. And help me to be in unity with You AND with the body of Christ here on Earth. As you so aptly said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)
When I’m lonely I will seek Your Presence as well as the fellowship of believers. Both are important, and I’m sorry that in the past I have forsaken the body of Christ when I am lonely. Help me in my loneliness, Jesus. Help me in my fear.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.