67 years ago Hank Williams, Sr. recorded a song titled “I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry.” The lyrics of the song express the depths of loneliness in a man who from all outside appearances had everything needed to be anything but lonely. Great career, surrounded by adoring fans, money, success, but in the midst of all this, feelings of loneliness so overwhelming and dark nothing seemed to touch. The false promises of alcohol did nothing to fill the emptiness.
Are you surrounded by people, family, friends, a ministry that is starting to provide a measure of success, yet you find yourself regularly feeling so lonesome you could cry? Especially on Monday mornings? You find yourself seeing isolation that you have convinced yourself you deserve. Isolation has made all kinds of promises: comfort, relief, and has even gone as far as to insist you must have its toxic relief to continue in ministry. But, instead of relief, isolation has only taken you deeper into its hole of misery and depression.
All of isolation’s promises are lies.
It has led many to internet sites filled with pornographic images that made great promises but ended with a greater isolation. Isolation fills the mind with thoughts of escape and the comfort it will bring. Isolation convinces us that those who are close to us don’t really understand much less really care about us. Spouses become the enemy because they are a disruption to the addiction that isolation has become.
You may not relate to any of these feelings of loneliness and isolation, but you probably know someone who has intimate knowledge of this.
The cure for isolation is solitude. Solitude is God’s answer to isolation.
In his book, Leading on Empty, Wayne Cordeiro writes “solitude is a chosen separation for refining your soul. Isolation is what you crave when you neglect the first.” Cordeiro goes on to say “solitude is a healthy and prescriptive discipline. Isolation is a symptom of emotional depletion.”
We must make time for solitude with God; it should be the priority of our day. What could be more important in ministry than solitude? Time exclusively dedicated to cultivating our personal relationship with God, not time preparing for a message, or a Bible lesson, but time set aside and guarded as we listen to the still small voice of God speaking into our hearts and minds.
Isolation comes so easy, and solitude can only come as the result of practicing it as a discipline. The outcome, one stands on illusions, false promises, and lies, but the other, on the immutable promises of God Almighty. Which will you choose?