I wasn't looking forward to my wife going out of town last week. Over the past few months, our house had become increasingly empty.
First our son relocated to Orlando to begin a new job. One of our daughters returned home for a while to fill the gap. But just a couple of weeks ago, after accepting a teaching position on the other side of Atlanta, she moved into her own apartment.
And as I reported in a previous writing, even our beloved basset hound was no longer in residence as she had recently passed away.
Therefore, when I thought about my wife going out of town for a few days, I dreaded the idea of being alone in a house that would be so quiet. Although I normally enjoy a little solitude, I was concerned that this time things around home might be a little too quiet.
Thankfully, the week zipped by relatively speedily. I enjoyed a little time to "be still and know that the Lord is God." But I also kept busy fulfilling pastoral duties, working on some long-neglected projects around the house, and reading a Christian novel.
I really didn't feel the loneliness I had dreaded. However, when the time came, I was very glad to welcome my wife back home.
One of the great things about being a follower of Christ is that we are never really alone. One of the most comforting promises in the Bible is the oft-repeated assurance from God that "I will be with you." That declaration gives us confidence that no matter where we are or what circumstances we're facing, we can rely on the presence of the Lord.
However, the promise is not merely about God being there, as wonderful as that truth is. It's also about the fact that He is Someone who cares about us and can help us. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).
Human companionship can be a wonderful blessing of life. But there are times when, for various reasons, we will find it lacking. We can try to fill the void with everything from busyness to the companionship of pets.
But the primary comfort in times of loneliness is the knowledge that a caring God is with us, Someone who can be the help, strength, and support that we need to make it through.
Life is full of opportunities to feel like we're all alone: your young child going off to school for the first time; your older child moving away to attend college; the consequences of divorce; broken relationships with other members of the family or with close friends; the death of a loved one; poor physical health that leaves you unable to get out and be in touch with others as in past years.
While our circumstances may change in those ways, the promise of God's presence doesn't change. Although our contact with other people may diminish, our fellowship with the Lord can grow day by day.
So whether you're dealing with being an empty nester or a widow or a resident of a nursing home or simply having a spouse go out of town for a few days, remember that if you know Christ, you don't have to fear being alone. You can rely on your Lord to be your ever-present companion and helper.
So in those lonely moments, listen for that same divine voice that has spoken to others through the ages as it reminds you, "I am with you."
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by e-mail at RevTElder@aol.com.