As we approach the Christmas season, it is important to remember the many people who will go through the holidays alone. During this time of year I’m reminded of those who have lost loved ones, and others whose lives have been shattered through divorce or addiction. Elderly parents are left in isolated nursing homes without the care and attention of their children, but perhaps saddest of all are the orphaned or abandoned children. These, and many more, feel desperately alone even amidst a crowded world.
No one, though, was ever so alone as our LORD Jesus on the cross.
“But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” – John 16:32
Only a few hours after saying this, Jesus hung on a cruel Roman cross. The pain He experienced so intense that it would later be defined as “excruciating” or literally, “a pain like the pain of crucifixion”. And if this sheer pain and agony of bearing mankind’s sins were not enough, He suffered the temporary but complete separation of the Father He loved. He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Christ died alone and felt the full weight of humanity’s sin and the Father’s separation upon His soul.
Because He suffered alone, no one else ever has to be alone again!
“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Joshua 1:5
While attending Oregon State as a brand new believer, the Holy Spirit brought this powerful promise from Joshua home to me personally. Having roots in the Congregational Church, the first fellowship I visited while in Corvallis was a theologically liberal Congregational Church. I still remember my first Sunday. I attended a class that a liberal “religion” teacher from OSU was teaching. The content of his teaching so distributed me that I left shaking with confusion and a strong sense of the error that he was espousing. He plainly disparaged the inerrancy of Scripture, which immediately struck me as wrong. Through the course of the week I prayed for God to tell me if I should ever go back again. I determined that I must speak up. As I was walking to church on Sunday, the words of Joshua 1:5 immediately popped into my mind: “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU!”
I went to the class that morning with my heart pounding. I don’t remember all that was communicated, but I still have a vivid and satisfying feeling as I recall the Holy Spirit using me to stand for His Truth, with all grace and respect. I was so young in my faith I was not even aware of such passages as 1 John 4:1 where we are exhorted to “test the spirits” of false teachers.
The writer of Hebrews alludes to Joshua 1:5 with he talks about learning to be content, quoting from Psalm 118:6-7: “…The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:5b
Similarly, the Apostle Paul, suffering alone in a Roman dungeon shortly before his execution, said: “But the Lord stood by my side and gave me strength,” – 2 Timothy 4:17. The Apostle John, old and imprisoned alone on the tiny island of Patmos, records that the Presence of the Holy Spirit was in him saying, “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,” – Revelation 1:10.
So it has always been for those who know the Lord, for He is there, even when all others have forsaken them. This is a great encouragement for it means that God stands ready to comfort and reside with all those who call upon Him!
As this festive season comes and goes, let us be mindful that we are not alone! Yahweh-Shammah, the LORD is there, the LORD Indweller, (see Ezekiel 48:35) is our strong Presence!