Loneliness in Suffering

Some people love experiencing anonymity in a large city. No one knows them, and they wander around at their own pace, taking in the sights, sounds and smells that appeal and rushing through, or avoiding things that don’t interest them. It can be a grand adventure!When grief, pain or suffering encompasses us, especially over a long period of time, we need to find our way back to meaningful relationships before falling into an abyss. Yes, those quiet, contemplative times help bring initial healing for many, but life continues for even family members. Sooner or later, the silence that may have been beneficial can morph into loneliness. A repetitive throbbing affects body and soul. A therapist, or well-meaning friend or family member, instructs, hoping to express their concern for us in a constructive way. However, that one who has walked beside returns to his/her daily responsibilities.

That act leaves us to practice exercises given to help alleviate the pain. Whether walking through parallel bars repeatedly, or facing that time of day when a loved one used to return home, the loneliness seeps into our very marrow like fog permeating through Narnia.

When and how does that fog lift? Some days, by tiny moments of joy, we escape the painful aloneness. Other days, it comes completely unexpected and certainly unbidden. What to do?

Reading historic accounts, we see Job’s wife advise her husband to curse God and die. We see Job’s comforters miss the mark of infusing hope in this God-fearing man who has experienced grief as well as excruciating physical pain. We even see the audacity of a man demanding a meeting with God!

I find myself returning to Job 42 to regain some perspective. Job, having been unable to utter any response to God’s questions, confesses his position as a mere mortal and then repents of his actions and abuses hurled at the God of the universe..

I again realize that I have my telescope backwards, resulting in God’s being small and my pain or grief being astronomically huge. The fog dissipates some; I move forward ever so slowly, but I know God’s incarnation, Jesus Christ, will never abandon me, that I need not walk or wallow hopelessly in my distress.

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