Each one of us experiences moments of loneliness. Sometimes the moment lasts for a day, a week, or a season. Maybe you’re lonely right now or you can look back on a chapter in your story and see now that you were battling loneliness.
I’ve found that there are four words that help me when I’m in that place. These four would also work, but they aren’t my four:
I am not alone.
God is with me.
This too shall pass.
They will be done.
My words? God in a box.
Halfway through the fall of my sophomore year in college, I began co-leading a small group with one of my close friends. We all walked through books of the Bible together, yes, but we also walked through life together. I know there’s the cliche of “doing life together” but I’m being nothing but honest when I tell you — we did that. Week in and week out for six semesters, we were there for joys and sorrows, ups and downs.
One week I mentioned how the four words God in a box kept coming to mind. It probably sounded a little bit crazy then because even now, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping you hear my heart behind those words — because our God cannot be contained in a box.
After a short explanation (and probably several hand motions because if I’m excited and talking, my hands are probably talking too), they got it. In fact, they started telling their roommates and friends about it. This past week, I’ve felt like it was time to share the phrase with you and so, deep breath, here we go.
Loneliness creeps into many of our days, and her friends Fear and Doubt often tag along. Oddly enough, some of our loneliest moments happen when we’re in the presence of others. I could list examples from high school, college, post-grad, or even this past week, but unfortunately I believe you already know exactly what I’m talking about.
If so, maybe you’ve whispered these prayers before: “God, are you there?” “Do you see what’s happening? Are you with me in this?” “Where did you go, God?” “I really need you to be here with me right now. This is too much to handle alone.”
In the middle of regular life, which always includes a question or two for most of us, God reminded me through Scripture that He was by my side. Just as Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father, the Holy Spirit is within you, a very present help in time of trouble and a comfort in the storm.
You are not alone.
God is with you. He is by your side.
Uncomfortable admission: sometimes when I see Scripture in a book or a blog post, my eyes glaze over. I really don’t like saying this, but every once in a while I’m tempted to just skip over the verses that I’ve heard my whole life (even though I know those words are more important than any others in the book or blog post). So I’m going to ask you to read these slowly, maybe even more than once.
Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Isaiah 41:10
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in the grave, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:7-10
I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. Psalm 16:8
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Psalm 23:4
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17
God is with me and with you in every moment. How this is possible is a feat and a miracle our human minds cannot begin to comprehend — but I don’t want a God that I can explain, y’all. Somehow, even in our lowest moments, when no one sees us drowning and as we desperately look around for a familiar face, He stands by our side.
He is there when we aren’t sure which path to take, when friendships fall apart, and when the phone sits silent.
But He’s also paving the way. God is laying down the next puzzle piece, writing the next chapter, and painting in the details on the canvas. He is at work. He holds the future and gently takes our hand to show us the way.
Oh, and one more thing? He goes behind us, redeeming all things for good and making sure the glory goes to the One who deserves it. Nothing in your past is beyond redemption; our Author and Guide sees the entire storyline.
Loneliness and Fear and Doubt show up, I know this. Sometimes they’re around so often they seem like friends. But we can walk into the unknown of the future and let go of the past simply because He’s got it. That doesn’t spell out whether you move here or there, take this job or that one, give up or hold on. It doesn’t necessarily provide any human answers, but it does offer assurance that you will never be alone.
Nothing can take Him by surprise. In the dark of night, He lights the way. In the bright of day, He leads us on.
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:8
The Lord went in front of them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so they could travel both day and night. Exodus 13:21
“I will go before you and make the rough places smooth.” Isaiah 45:2a
You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the Lord will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind. Isaiah 52:12
I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going. Psalm 139:5, MSG
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5, NIV
The glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. Isaiah 58:5b
God in a box. The four words that appeared years ago are the ones I still repeat, but a more accurate version would be God is the box.
We are each in a God-Box, surrounded by His glory and His goodness and His love on all sides at all times.
He was with you yesterday. He is with you today. And He will lead you into tomorrow.