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Alone but Not Lonely

One result of being on a daily television program is that people feel that they know you. On The 700 Club, where we talk about issues of the heart, I feel that I hardly ever meet a stranger. A feeling of familiarity transcends any awkwardness that might otherwise exist when two strangers meet.

We receive a considerable amount of mail in my office, and much of it is from people whose lives are filled with pain and fear. Many letter writers say, “I’ve never shared this with anyone before” or “There’s no one else I can talk to.” The problems differ, but the common thread that runs through them all is loneliness. Men and women in broken marriages, alcoholics, victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, depressed young people, people with sexual identity problems. People feel trapped and alone.

The Bible is full of people who struggled with loneliness. Sometimes when we read their stories we feel comfortable with the familiarity of them and don’t really consider their extenuating circumstances.

Take Moses for example. We usually think of how God answered the prayers of his mother’s heart and how blessed he was to have been plucked out of the Nile by Pharaoh’s daughter. But I’m sure he felt the stares and whispers as the only Hebrew in an Egyptian royal household. While he was raised in a privileged environment, his people suffered at the hands of the very man in whose home he lived, at whose table he ate. Talk about an identity crisis!

Moses was a man without a country. When he did move in defense of his people, he wound up killing an Egyptian, being scorned by his people, and fleeing into the desert to escape Pharaoh. Even later in his life, he was still a man called apart for the things of God. He must have been lonely.

Consider Joseph. He was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, and carried off to a foreign country. While there unjustly accused, imprisoned, and forgotten. He must have been lonely.

Then there was Esther, a beautiful young Jewish girl. Her parents had died, Mordecai had adopted her, and suddenly she was taken to the palace as part of a harem of women for a very self-centered king. Though she finds favor in his eyes, there is no pledge of fidelity. She must have been lonely.

All of these Bible heroes have their loneliness in common. But they share a more significant trait. They served a God who is great and mighty and who brought them comfort and hope in the midst of their loneliness. What He did for Moses, Joseph, and Esther, He will also do for you.

Father, when I am lonely it is easy to allow depression to get a foothold in my life. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I choose to lift my voice in praise to You. Fill me with the wonder of who You are and Your great love for me. Forgive me for looking to others for what I can only find in You. You are my all in all.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

January 9

Genesis 4:7 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

The first two brothers must have been taught by Adam to give an offering to the Lord. Perhaps the offering was a way of giving thanks for the abundance of the earth. It may have looked forward to the promised One that would deliver them from the dominion of Satan. God was pleased with Abel’s offering of a lamb, but not with Cain’s grain offering. We don’t know why, except that God looks upon the heart. This verse tells us that Cain’s heart was not right with God when he gave the offering. It was not the gift itself, as we later see acceptable grain offerings in the days of Moses. Cain’s offering was a representation of his heart. He did not do what was right in his heart, and so, his offering was not accepted.

One sin leads to another. That is the warning God gave Cain. In fact, like a lion waiting to devour us, sin waits to devour our lives. The loving heart of God reached out to Cain with the warning that sin would like to dominate him, to be the authority over him, bringing him to destruction. But then God told Cain the correct response is to master it. Don’t let it master you.

Is there sin crouching at your door, waiting to dominate your life? Master it! Don’t allow it to master you. We master it, just as Cain could have, by looking to the work of the Seed to come, the Savior. Because of what Christ did, we can master it! His resurrected life gives us the power to master it rather than be devoured by it.

Cain was about to plot a murder because of jealousy. Read the verse again. Think about how this verse applies to you each time that you give in to temptation. You can stop the cycle or go deeper into it.

Consider: If you are caught in a cycle of sin, you can still master it by the power of the risen Christ, the Seed that crushed the rule of Satan.

Streams in the Desert – January 9

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

I kept for nearly a year the flask-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth. It is very peculiar in its construction. A narrow opening is left in the neck of the flask, through which the perfect insect forces its way, so that a forsaken cocoon is as entire as one still tenanted, no rupture of the interlacing fibers having taken place. The great disproportion between the means of egress and the size of the imprisoned insect makes one wonder how the exit is ever accomplished at all — and it never is without great labor and difficulty. It is supposed that the pressure to which the moth’s body is subjected in passing through such a narrow opening is a provision of nature for forcing the juices into the vessels of the wings, these being less developed at the period of emerging from the chrysalis than they are in other insects.

I happened to witness the first efforts of my prisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. During a whole forenoon, from time to time, I watched it patiently striving and struggling to get out. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. Very probably the confining fibers were drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter on its native heather, as nature meant it to be. At all events I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, and I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a very little easier, and lo! immediately, and with perfect case, out crawled my moth dragging a huge swollen body and little shrivelled wings. In vain I watched to see that marvelous process of expansion in which these silently and swiftly develop before one’s eyes; and as I traced the exquisite spots and markings of divers colors which were all there in miniature, I longed to see these assume their due proportions and the creature to appear in all its perfect beauty, as it is, in truth, one of the loveliest of its kind. But I looked in vain. My false tenderness had proved its ruin. It never was anything but a stunted abortion, crawling painfully through that brief life which it should have spent flying through the air on rainbow wings.

I have thought of it often, often, when watching with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress; and I would fain cut short the discipline and give deliverance. Short-sighted man! How know I that one of these pangs or groans could be spared? The far-sighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink from present, transient suffering. Our Father’s love is too true to be weak. Because He loves His children, He chastises them that they may be partakers of His holiness. With this glorious end in view, He spares not for their crying. Made perfect through sufferings, as the Elder Brother was, the sons of God are trained up to obedience and brought to glory through much tribulation.
–Tract

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