Wednesday, January 12
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
Social media and online interactions aside, we all know what it feels like to be alone in a crowd. Sometimes we experience a sense of isolation and not belonging even when we’re with family and friends. Both are normal experiences, but they can also push us closer to our cave of depression if left unchecked. When we feel lonely and isolated, we’re at greater risk for withdrawing even more. That seems to be what happened to Elijah in the midst of his struggle. We’re told, “When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there” (1 Kings 19:3). Perhaps feeling overwhelmed by fear, uncertainty, doubt, and despair, Elijah may have concluded it was best to deal with his issues on his own. Maybe he wanted time to process what was going on inside him—to sort himself out, as my British friends like to say. He may have thought he needed solitude, but what Elijah experienced was isolation. Not long after leaving his servant behind, we’re told in the very next verse, Elijah felt like he wanted to die. Alone with the panicked voices in his head, he had no one who could reason with him or remind him of what was true. And so he retreated to the darkness of the cave and hid from reality. You and I are wired to need relationships. Family. Friends. People who share different facets of our lives. We need people especially when we’re struggling because they can provide other perspectives that remind us what’s true. They can protect and defend us when we’re vulnerable and weak. In his reflection on relationships, Solomon noted, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT). God never meant for us to handle life on our own. We’re made for relationships. We’re better together. We are designed by God for connections and cooperation. We are created for intimacy. We function best in a tribe—a social community linked together by a common bond, to accomplish something none of us could do on our own.
Write down some of the ways you feel stronger as a result of your spiritual support system.
Consider a time when isolation had a negative impact on your mental health.
Lord, thank you for giving me a community to strengthen me when I am struggling. Please help me be open and vulnerable with those who care for me. Amen.
Out Of The Cave by Chris Hodges