Dr. W.J.A. Power used to say when teaching Perkins students the Psalms that the Psalmists do not speak to us so much as for us. I love that thought. Perhaps that’s why the 23rd Psalm is so well known and loved. We all experience the sense of loneliness at times and feel the need to reach out somewhere to someone. Loneliness has been described as the number one problem in America. I don’t doubt that for a minute.
It’s wonderful to have time to sit with a good cup of coffee and listen to the birds singing, chirping, going about their business…to be alone and enjoy it. But consider the obverse of that: sitting at your desk with people all around you and wishing to God you had someone to talk to or feel close to. That’s the difference between being alone and loneliness.
Several years ago, my cousin Beulah met a guy she liked, they went to dinner together and she forgot about him. One evening her phone rang and it was that guy. He told her he had just been awarded his PhD in mathematics and since he didn’t know who else would be interested in his accomplishment, he needed someone to share that with so he called her. As she related that to me she expressed her astonishment. “I don’t know him that well and, poor guy, he feels he doesn’t know anyone any better!” That sounds like loneliness.
Suzanne Gordon who has written a book on loneliness says that an important ingredient of loneliness is a sense of hopelessness….that things will never be different. Tomorrow will always be like right now…in my worst moment.
Ah, but we can turn to the Psalmist. He records his lonely moments and then what brings him up out of it. Sometimes spectacularly.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters…..
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me…..
The invitation to such a personal relationship is at the core of the message of the Bible. An old rabbinical saying is: “Before every human being there goes a band of angels crying, ‘Behold the image of God.'”
When a spasm of loneliness threatens, just remember there’s a band of angels circling you, green pastures and still waters await. So, “be ye lifted up!!”