January 6, 2011
Lonely In Families
"God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land."
Psalm 68:6 (NIV)
I used to think today's key verse was a sweet promise to the lonely, assuring them that God would remember them and surround them with the love of a family. And, while I still think this is true, I recently had a revelation while reading this verse that there might be another way to look at it.
I noticed in my Bible's notes that the word "lonely" means "solitary." The person the verse is referring to may not be the person feeling sad because she's alone. This could be the person who needs some alone-time to recharge - she thrives in silence. When life gets too chaotic or crazy or noisy, all she really wants is to be solitary.
That person, in other words, is me.
So what does this verse tell us God does with a person like me? He plops her smack in the middle of a family. He says, "I know you prefer being alone. I know that you can control your world much better when there's a population of one. But, my child, that is not what makes you a better person. You will never be all that I long for you to be if I leave you in your solitary-ness."
God saw fit to put me in the midst of six noisy, arguing, busy children and one husband with his own set of expectations, needs and preferences. Then He took a ringside seat and watched the drama ensue. He watched as I battled my own selfishness, learned to put other's needs ahead of my own, and lapsed into longing for loneliness.
Being a solitary person is not all bad. Jesus understood this propensity to need time alone. While He surrounded Himself with crowds of people, there are times in the gospels where He tells His disciples He's had enough and withdraws from the crowds to recharge. Luke 5:16 says, "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Two words jump out at me in that verse: often and lonely. God doesn't try to take away our bent towards being solitary, but He doesn't want us to stay in that place all the time. We should take the time to go to our lonely places and pray. But we also need to come back and re-engage.
Maybe you're a solitary person too. Maybe you've found yourself rebelling against the needs of your family, lamenting that you just want to be alone. God created us for community. He knows that in isolation we do no one any good. He puts the lonely in families—and it's not always a pretty process. But the result He is going for is beautiful.
Dear Lord, I confess that I don't always see my family as a blessing and a tool to grow Your desires for me. Help me to balance my desire for lonely places with Your call in my life to be part of this family You've placed me in. And help me to praise You in both situations. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Commit today to be purposeful about finding your own quite place to withdraw to when you need to re-charge. Place a reminder in that place to pray.
Perhaps you love being around people, and your motto is the more the merrier. If so, consider inviting the lonely or those without family into your home regularly for a meal.
Are you one of the lonely people God saw fit to put in a family? Has your desire for solitary-ness affected your view of your children? Or your husband?
Is God calling you to step outside of yourself and connect with someone in particular?
Psalm 84:3a, "Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young." (NIV)
Psalm 113:9, "He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord." (NIV)
© 2011 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.
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