Being a military wife, I know the meaning of loneliness. Before my husband deployed, we rescued a puppy dog for me to have some companionship and noise in the house. We moved specifically to an area where I could be closer to my family. We became members of a church and got involved in a “care group”. We even attempted to build friendships in our newly assigned unit and participate in military retreats.
Even with all those good decisions and well-thought through actions, it was difficult to establish good community and consistent support throughout the 14-month deployment. We struggled in the months leading up to deployment and during the many months of separation. We both experienced loneliness: Me at home and him abroad.
I recently went to visit a friend of mine in Chicago area. She moved back to her hometown of Geneva this past summer. She shared with me how she was struggling to find community and develop friendships in her new-found church. She and I both knew that those types of connections take time and large amounts of investment. But the truth still remains, that during that time of waiting and serving and putting yourself out there, it can be very lonely.
She is not military and I was thankful to be reminded again that loneliness is not a military issue; it’s a human issue. We all experience loneliness at times. In Deuteronomy 31:6, Moses says to the Israelites, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
The context of this passage is very important. Moses is transferring his mantle of leadership to Joshua. Moses was the first leader of the Israelite people, bringing them out of captivity in Egypt and through the Red Sea. Moses is now 120 years old and he is no longer going to lead the Israelites.
He is instructing the Israelites to cross over the Jordan under the direction of Joshua. To take possession of the land that God had promised them. Moses is very adamant to both the Israelites and then to Joshua specifically, telling them not to be afraid, dismayed, or discouraged. God is going to be with them. God is not going to leave them nor forsake them.
These words, thousands of years later, are still encouraging to me and God’s people. We have been called into new territory, whether it is the suburbs of Chicago or a peacekeeping mission in a foreign country. I would venture to say that even different seasons of life are new territory, like a deployment, medical diagnosis, ailing parent, or new baby.
All of these seasons are new territory and sometimes we can feel uneasy, afraid, discouraged, and/or lonely. God wants us to know that we are not alone. He has not forsaken us and He never will. He has a plan and he has called us to new territory. You are not alone.
Father God, Thank you for your promise that you will never leave us or forsake us. You have called me into new territory and I surrender my heart, my will, and my emotions to you. Lord, help me to be strong and courageous in my faith and in my obedience to you. Lord, help me to trust you with all of my circumstances. Replace the loneliness I feel with a tangible sense of your presence and sweet times of fellowship with you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen