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Loneliness – Life Among the Tombs

January 19, 2014

Bench beneath snow, Paris, Photo by Pierre-Yves Beaudouin (CC-BY-ASA-3.0)

“…Jesus and His disciples went ashore in the country of the Gadarenes.  Nearby was a cemetery where a wild man lived.  No chains were strong enough to hold him.  Night and day he wandered in this lonely place, crying and cutting himself with stones. From a distance, the wild man saw Jesus. At once he ran, fell at Jesus’ feet, and worshipped Him” (Mark 5: 1-6, ASL Bible).

The story of the madman of the Gadarenes speaks of a tormented man living in a cemetery which, itself, is described as a lonely place.  Though we cannot be certain this man was grieving the loss of a loved one, there is certainly that possibility.   The man cries and cuts himself with stones, behavior typical of grief [1].

All of us must face loneliness during our lives. We sit alone; feel out of place, even when surrounded by others. Our in-box is empty.  Our phone does not ring.

Loneliness is particularly painful when coupled with grief.  We focus on the loved one now gone (or the dream lost), relive every real or imagined failure on our part, knowing there is no way to change the past.  That knowledge, too, is part of the grief.   Even friends may abandon us, uncertain how to help.

The story of the madman presents us with a picture of loneliness that is surprisingly familiar – physical and emotional isolation from others, a lack of interest in our normal activities, in extremes cases despair and a loss of touch with reality.  In effect, we live among the tombs.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5: 16, NIV Bible).

Whether we realize it or not, we are never really alone in our loneliness and grief. The Lord is with us even in the lonely places. He knows firsthand what it is to be to be misunderstood, rejected, and betrayed. He feels our grief, as if it were His own.

Some losses may remain painful all our lives. But life is not meant to be lived among the tombs. We have the Lord’s promise that one day He will swallow up death, and wipe away tears from all faces (Isaiah 25: 8). His own tomb, we know, stands empty.

[1] Formally known as Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI), cutting is today a recognized psychological condition, generally an attempt to cope with negative emotions.


From → Christian, Faith, Religion

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