Anglican Morning Devotion,17 May 2021 Anno Domini
The Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
Loneliness is not a condition reserved only for wilderness places. Loneliness is far more commonly experienced in crowded streets and in broken homes than in the deserts and jungles of the world. In fact, it is possible for a body to feel less lonely in a mountain vastness than in a gathering of one thousand people.
Though in its simplest definition of feeling isolated from others around us, I believe loneliness is triggered by a lack of genuine love felt by its victim. Knowing that one is loved will connect us to others and the connection becomes a two-lane road both going out and coming in.
Loneliness is most common among those who lack faith in a Creator God. Even if found in a solitary place in the rural countryside, one who has faith in God feels little loneliness because he is promised the most constant of all companions in the love of Christ. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
We have many examples of figures in the Bible who were either alone, or among men, who did not realize the presence of the Lord though He was right beside. Consider a few: Hagar twice in her loneliest moments in the two wilderness journeys was found by the Lord; Abraham, while sitting in his tent door on the plains of Mamre, was suddenly visited by the Lord; Jonah, who believed he could escape the presence of the Lord by fleeing to Tarshish, was found in the hull of a ship on the high seas by the Lord; Mary, the mother of Jesus, was alone when visited by God unexpectedly; the Woman at the Well did not expect to find anyone at the Well at the noonday hour, but her despondent soul was lifted to the joys of Heaven when meeting Jesus there; Mary Magdalene sought a dead body on the first day of the week following the crucifixion but found the living Christ who called to her there; and, then there is Paul who was rushing to Damascus to persecute the church there with a band of brigands when the Lord found him on the road and struck him down. We can never know when we may be visited by the Lord in a profound manner even though He is with the believer always: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20b; see also Hebrews 13:5)
Because God so loves His elect, He is not only present in times of trouble or loneliness, He is actually present in power to take our part in winning through to victory: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10) Like a good parent, He wants us to call on Him in time of need. Prayer will always open His ears to our petitions. But remember: prayer, too, is a two-way street. We state our petitions and we patiently await His response – and all according to His Divine Will.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4)