Read: Hebrews 4:14-16; Revelation 21:1-6
A well-known Swedish proverb says, “shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow." Decades ago, a resource teacher used to tell me that, and I was thinking about those wise words this morning as I was considering the theme of this devotion. So many expectations have been altered or thwarted this year, and so many lives have been torn by grief. Whether we are thinking of sad times or happy ones, sharing them with one another has been very different this year. Two incidents that I experienced during this pandemic really brought this home to me.
The first incident occurred last spring. I was at the grocery store when a family friend approached my cart. I joyfully greeted her and wondered when her husband would be coming up behind me to tease me about something he thought I should be doing. When I asked about him, my friend told me that he had very recently passed away. Oh my, my heart hurt for her, and I put out my arm, asking her whether she was receiving hugs. She said no and bumped my elbow with hers. Of course, I understood her desire to not become ill. What saddened me was that a tender action that is often such a part of sharing someone's sorrow couldn't be done. A beautiful way to share each other's hurts had to be curtailed. Even though I wasn't the one who was grieving, I felt a bit of loneliness as we walked away. Ecclesiastes 3:5 says that there is a time for embracing and a time to refrain from doing so. Sadly, at this time, it is necessary for us to refrain. Yet, praise the Lord. This won't last forever, and we will once again be able to hold and hug one another.
The second incident occurred only yesterday on Christmas. Some of the family came to exchange gifts with us. Ordinarily we would have eaten together and celebrated with everyone laughing and talking. We would have played a guessing game, having spent hours together. However, because of the virus, we couldn't come close for anything like that. We didn't hold and hug each other. It was still sweet because they sang with us, and we joined in from the deck. I even bounced and danced to the music. No, no videos were taken. They made it special, but having to fellowship with them from the driveway was a bit lonely. Praise the Lord. This won't last, and we will be able to rejoice and celebrate together again.
Loneliness, the Lord never intended that it would be part of life. Isn't it sweet to know that the Creator/Redeemer is the One Who said that It was not good for Adam to be alone; therefore, He crafted a helper to walk and fellowship with him whom Adam named Eve, Genesis 2:18-25. God meant for us to enjoy relationships with each other that would sooth hurts and make joyous circumstances even sweeter. However, after sin tainted everything, earth became only a first step toward our living in the world we long to inhabit. How gracious God is to have told us about heaven so we could know our longings could be satisfied.
One of the myriads of beautiful things about God's heavenly kingdom is that it will be a place of no loneliness. After all, He will be our God and we will be His people who will be with Him, Revelation 21:1-6. Though there is much we don't know about His wondrous kingdom, having fellowship with God and all who belong to Him surely means on-going sweet relationships where we will know as we are known, 1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 Corinthians 1:14. No wonder, when Paul spoke about the blast of a trumpet, followed by our being united in the air with others who belong to the Savior, he told us to encourage one another with the joy of this truth, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
Even so, now we do experience loneliness, and it comes to us in a multitude of different packages. Because of the virus, we have limits concerning what we presently can and cannot do to alleviate the loneliness we see all around us. Yet, with God's help, let's continue to help curb loneliness whenever we can, and let's spread the amazing news that the Lord became flesh, John 1:14 and experienced all that we have felt, even loneliness, Hebrews 4:14-16. When we approach Jesus with all that we or others are feeling, He doesn't stand apart from us; instead, He says that He truly understands and has a home waiting for those who put their trust in Him, John 14:1-3. He is the Living God Who sees us, Genesis 16:13-14.
Lord, so many people have suffered great loss, loneliness and want this year. Show each of us how to sooth, even a bit, the loneliness that is around us. Please open the door for us to tell others about the provision You have made for them to be with You forever, John 3:16; John 10:10. A place of fullness of joy, Psalm 16:11.