By Jill Briscoe
One of the worst kinds of loneliness is spiritual loneliness. Jeremiah experienced this in his own hometown, Anathoth (Jer. 1:1). No one wanted to hear his message. The townsfolk – his neighbors, friends, and even his own family – hated him. He was crushed when he realized the people closest to him were not about to follow King Josiah’s reforms and return to the Lord.
What did Jeremiah do? First, he complained bitterly to God. “Let me bring you this complaint,” he lamented (Jer.12:1). We are allowed to do that, you know. We can tell God what it feels like to be spiritually alone among the people who matter most to us. He understands when we gripe about the wicked getting away without punishment – and even prospering (Jer. 12:2-4).
After making his complaint, Jeremiah listened to God – but it wasn’t easy! Jeremiah would continue to be an object of scorn and revenge (Jer. 12:5-6), but God promised, “I will restore you so you can continue to serve me… I am with you to protect and rescue you” (Jer. 15:19-20).
Loneliness can draw us into a deeper commitment to God. There comes a time when the words of the hymn “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” become our own. We need to say, “Though none go with me, still I will follow. No turning back, no turning back.” May we learn that loneliness sometimes is the price we must pay for our faith – even in “Anathoth,” our home.
“This is what the Lord says about the men of Anathoth who wanted me dead. They had said, ‘We will kill you if you do not stop prophesying in the Lord’s name.’” ~ Jeremiah 11:21 (NLT)
Lord, sometimes it is difficult to live the words, “though none go with me, still I will follow”. It gets very lonely when those close to us do not understand the joy we find in You. Give me strength and resolve to follow You when no one shares the journey, and to continue to look for opportunities to love and serve You. Amen.