“And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone;…”
Christmas time is a particularly busy season in the lives of Christians and non-Christians alike. While many Christians find themselves immersed in the various traditions that have come to commemorate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, from Christmas lights and gift exchanges to nativity scenes and Christmas plays, many non-Christians are themselves caught up in the office parties and shopping frenzy that have come to mark the season. Everyone appears to be looking forward to the holidays, when they can take a break from work or school and enjoy time with family and friends.
However, in the midst of all the activities of the season, it is easy to forget that Christmastime can be a time of great loneliness for many people. Many are lonely because they are away from their loved ones. Many are lonely because a loved one has died and they must go through the Christmas season without them. Many are lonely not because they do not have people around them, but because they think nobody cares about them. Whatever the cause, it is undeniable that as we enjoy all of the activities that mark the Christmas season, many among us are lonely, even in the church.
One might wonder how anyone could be lonely in the church, with all the crowded pews, smiling faces and happy songs, but a closer look will reveal that things are not always as rosy as they seem in our churches. Loneliness is possible in the church when a person lacks the inner joy that only intimate fellowship with God can provide. Such a person will likely seek joy in people or worldly things like money, status, career, education and beauty, and experience frustration when these things fail to satisfy. He or she may feel disconnected from other believers and feel that genuine expressions of joy in worship are mere pretense. Unless these feelings are addressed, the person may experience depression, leave the church and even become disenchanted with God.
An incident in in 1 Kings 19 sheds light on how loneliness and can be alleviated in the church. It occurred at a time when King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, were promoting idolatry in Israel and the Prophet Elijah found himself running for his life after Jezebel promised to kill him for challenging their idolatrous ways. Alone in a cave, he became depressed and pleaded with God to take his life. As he saw things, he was the only person left in Israel who still feared the Lord and he would rather die at the hands of God than die at the hands of the bloodthirsty queen. His loneliness led to a depression that could have been tragic but for the intervention of the Lord who informed him that he was not alone. Contrary to his belief, there were seven thousand others in Israel who still feared the Lord. The prophet’s feeling of loneliness brought the threat of death, but the reality of fellowship gave him a new lease on life.
As we celebrate Christmas, let us look out for those who show a lack of interest in prayer, worship and bible study. These are signs of a broken fellowship with God. Let us look out for those who consistently fail to rejoice with others and are beginning to withdraw from other believers. These are signs of a broken fellowship with the saints. Let us reach out and remind them that they are not alone.