Devotion for Friday, May 1
But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad;
many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases.
But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
Like fatigue and like hunger, loneliness is part of being human. Especially right now when we are being asked to stay away from loved ones and friends. Fatigue is cured by sleep and hunger is cured by eating, but how do we handle loneliness? It is our very nature to seek out others, to want a heart that responds to our human ache for understanding.
Many of our favorite women of the Bible were no strangers to periods of aloneness. Mary, during her pregnancy; Ruth, after the death of her husband; Esther, in a pagan harem; Hannah, childless for years in a culture where barrenness was a disgrace.
Throughout his life Jesus experienced both isolation and alienation. At one time, when the crowds drifted away, he asked his disciples, "Will you also go away?" Yet, there were times when Jesus chose to be alone, deliberately making himself unavailable so that he could nourish his soul as he talked with his Father. He always made time to leave the crowds to talk with and listen to his Father.
But, even Jesus did not use his relationship with God as a substitute for human companionship. He found this companionship with his three closest disciples - Peter, James and John - and in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
We know that even the best marriage, the closest friendship, the most satisfying child-parent relationship - they can all be unpredictable. More than 1,500 years ago St. Augustine remarked that our hearts will never be at rest away from the One who made them...and it is still true.
Our Father, who created us, knows the best way to fill our empty places. It is only God who can fill our deepest longings, who never has an appointment somewhere else, who never replaces us with someone He likes better. It is our God who promises never to leave us totally alone. Even in the middle of this Coronavirus, even when we have to stay at home and away from others, He is always with us. He is the only One who wants to be and always will be the unfailing companion on our journey.
Let us pray: Gracious and loving God, we thank You for always being there for us and for never leaving us alone. Help us to always be aware of Your presence with us. Amen.