But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.Luke 5:16, NIV
Sometimes we withdraw to the lonely places, and sometimes we need to withdraw from them. We all need private times to detach from the turmoil and to abide in the Lord’s presence. Jesus often sought lonely places to cultivate the stillness and strength He needed. But when our lonely places are too lonely for too long, our wellbeing is at risk. A report in USA Today claimed a 26 percent increased likelihood of death for those who feel lonely and 29 percent for those who have actual social isolation. According to the report, more people are living alone now than at any time in recorded human history.
Many biblical characters faced isolation and anguish in ways we cannot imagine. King David said, “I am like a pelican of the wilderness” (Psalm 102:6) and “No one cares for my soul” (Psalm 142:4). It helps to remember that even our greatest heroes in Scripture battled loneliness. It isn’t a sin; it’s a temporary situation and sometimes, as in Jesus’ case, it is even beneficial. It provides needed time for prayer.
Whenever you’re in a lonely place, remember that God is there with you, and He always cares for your soul.
Whenever I feel lonely, it helps me to know that a man as great as King David—a man after God’s own heart—could feel just as I do. David Jeremiah
Watch the Conductor
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1–2
World-renowned violinist, Joshua Bell, has an unusual way of leading the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, a forty-four-member chamber orchestra. Instead of waving a baton he directs while playing his Stradivarius with the other violinists. Bell told Colorado Public Radio, “Even while I’m playing I can give them all kinds of direction and signals that I think only they would understand at this point. They know by every little dip in my violin, or raise in my eyebrow, or the way I draw the bow. They know the sound I’m looking for from the entire orchestra.”
Just as the orchestra members watch Joshua Bell, the Bible instructs us to keep our eyes on Jesus our Lord. After listing many heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, the writer says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1–2).
Jesus promised, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Because He is, we have the amazing privilege of keeping our eyes on Him while He conducts the music of our lives.
Lord, our eyes look to You this day so we may follow Your direction and live in harmony with You.
Let us keep our eyes on Jesus our Savior as He directs our lives.
Have you ever walked away from a parent, teacher, coach, or military officer you thought was being too hard on you?
The men and women of faith listed in Hebrews 11 must have wondered at times whether their God was asking more of them than they could possibly give. Yet through doubt, personal failure, and unfulfilled dreams, the Bible gives all of them honorable mention—as witnesses to the faith that has been entrusted to us.
Now it’s our turn. When we face fears, we have the opportunity to follow the One who asks us to trust Him in a way that lifts us above own natural inclinations. This is a moment to remember the lingering witness of Jesus’s own disciples who so often heard the words, “Don’t be afraid.” From the stories of those who have gone before us, we are reminded that it was on a road of faith that Jesus and His witnesses suffered to bring others to God.
Jesus invites us to experience for ourselves the honor of being witnesses to His faithfulness even when we struggle to trust Him.