In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (Hebrews 2:10-11)
I don't know about you, but I struggle pretty regularly with loneliness. It is a wrestling that has gone on for years, but one that has only been accentuated by the new life (which I adore) and new terrain I find myself in these days. It is not something that is fun, either to struggle with or to admit, but my suspicion is that all of us, to some degree, walk pretty regularly alongside this hidden companion. Is he friend or is he foe? I think my answer through the years would have normally tended toward the foe category, but these days I'm not so sure. Could it be that this loneliness is a companion that has a lot to teach me if I am willing to listen; one that can be a guide and a friend if I choose to embrace him rather than run away from him. Could it be that loneliness can produce some fertile ground for God to work a work deep within me? Could it be that loneliness is a gift?
Loneliness seems to be a part of a much larger family--the family of groaning. Paul wrote about it often, both in Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 5. Groaning is something that comes up from deep within us as we live in a broken world and long for the creation intent (shalom) of God to be our constant and current reality. It is almost as if the brokenness of the world, and even our own hearts, was given to us as a gift...a gift to let us know deep within that there is something (or Someone) more...a gift that serves as a constant invitation us to lean into or seek or long or watch and wait for that More to appear among and around and within us. So whether I call the groaning loneliness, or disappointment, or depression, or insecurity, or anxiety, or whatever it may be at the moment; groaning is a gift. It is a gift because it is a doorway to something God desires to do deep within us. So during this season of Advent, this season of watching and waiting and groaning, let us embrace the groaning in whatever form it may be presenting itself, rather than trying to avoid, deny or escape it. Because God is in the midst of it, He is up to something in the groaning that could be accomplished within us in no other way. He is using it to make us holy, like our brother, and Savior, Jesus. Thanks be to God.