Daily Lectionary: Joshua 24:1-31; Acts 13:1-12

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. (Psalm 25:1-2, from the Introit for Trinity 3)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Loneliness is different from solitude. Solitude is a peaceful form of being alone. It gives us space for prayer, for study, for thoughtful reflection on God’s Word. Loneliness is isolation, being turned inward, walled off from others. You can be lonely in a crowded room.

Afflictions and troubles can bring loneliness and isolation. We hide ourselves behind closed doors. Pain, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, can cause us to shun the company of others.

Sin isolates us. Luther called original sin the heart turned inward on itself. Sin isolated Adam from his wife, and it isolated him from God. It isolates us as well. We stay away from church. We stop talking to people. Perhaps we said it, or maybe we just thought it. “I just want to die.”

You are not alone. The saints of Scripture all went through the same kind of thing. Jeremiah was constantly distressed over his prophetic vocation. Elijah once sat under a broom tree and asked God to take his life. The apostle Paul spoke of his many afflictions. Luther called it “tentatio,” a time of testing.

Jesus knows well the loneliness of affliction. He is the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with suffering. He felt the abandonment of God: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He prayed in anguish, alone in the Garden, without any answer from His Father. He knows what it’s like to be alone and in anguish.

For Jesus’ sake, we can turn to God in our loneliness and pray, “Turn to me, O Lord, and be gracious to me,” trusting that He will turn and be gracious. He hears our cries, He considers our troubles, He forgives our sins. He blesses and restores us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Gracious Father in heaven, you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Thank you that we have a Savior who truly understands our sufferings and that through Him, your Son, you hear us when we cry out to you. Amen.

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