No Man Is An Island
The English poet John Donne famously wrote these words “no man is an island.” In our day however, the normative experience for many is quite the opposite. With all of our apparent connectivity via the internet and social media, the simple fact is that there are scores of people who just feel alone. A person can have hundreds of friends on Facebook or thousands of Twitter followers and yet still feel incredibly disconnected. Additionally, those who may surround themselves with lots of people can still feel the sting of loneliness. Even as a pastor, I myself have had bouts of loneliness. The result of loneliness has very little to do with how many people are around you, it is a feeling on the inside.
Part of the issue of loneliness comes from the feeling of disconnection. Those who have experienced loneliness, or are currently feeling it now, how many times has the question been raised in the back of your mind, “Does anyone truly know me?” Even if someone is interacting with you in conversation, that question seems to creep in out of nowhere and unfortunately in my experience, dominates my thought life until I am personally disengaged. However, Scripture is not unaware of loneliness. In fact, many of the Psalms were penned in a time when the author was in a deep spirit of loneliness. But going back to the question “does anyone know me?” the Bible answers with a loving and tender, “yes.”
Psalm 139, reminds us of God’s knowledge about the individual and His ever presence in the life of a person. It begins with “O Lord, you have searched me and know me!”(v.1) Now this knowledge is not only intellectual as in God knows that you exist, rather this knowledge is to represent a deep and abiding intimacy that God has for you. God is the only one that truly knows you, for it says speaking about God’s activity in your life, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”(v.13) To think about the level of involvement in God piecing together the intricate pieces of your person, is astounding. All of who you are, every fiber of your being was “fearfully and wonderfully made.”(v.14) As a craftsman who has created the finest masterpiece, can look upon his work and know exactly where every detail is located, even some that are missed by those who are admiring the piece. God in the same way looks at you, His creation, and knows your every detail. Hard to believe, I know. Even David who wrote the Psalm says in verse 6, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Yet even though this may be hard to grasp, or even believe, especially in a time of loneliness, it is the truth. You are known by God.
God knows you and He also sympathizes with your loneliness. Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, underwent intense battles of loneliness. As he sat on the night before he was to die, his closest friends around him, he was contemplating his death by way of the cross, and articulating that to his disciples. His followers, however, in turn argued who was the greatest among them. Right before Jesus’ arrest, he was praying and asked his dearest disciples to pray with him. Instead, they fell asleep and left Jesus to pray in agony alone. Even to his death, Jesus Christ was alone. Jesus experienced loneliness to a degree that none of us can comprehend and therefore he is a dear friend to the lonely.
To those among us who are suffering loneliness, know that you aren’t alone. Christ himself invites you to fellowship with him, as it says in Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Not only does Christ give himself, but he has also given a community to help bear such a burden as loneliness. There are people around you who would gladly bear your burden, walk along side of you, and remind you that you are not an “island” unto yourself. Loneliness is a real feeling, but you don’t have to feel it alone.