Luke 5:15-16 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
One of the lessons I learned in an in-patient mental health facility was the need for solitude, which requires us to find lonely spaces to be away from others. I spent so much of time mothering others that I didn’t have time to work on myself.
I was told to let the doctors and nurses care for the other patients while I worked on the issues that had brought me to the hospital. So, I found a spot in the patients’ lounge where I could be alone and silent. It was in those moments of solitude that I did the work that alloweed the doctors to find the right combination of medicines to stop my panic attacks and to allow me to go home.
Today, finding solitude requires me to step away from the constant flood of information that can keep our hearts in a worried state and lead to physical and mental exhaustion, especially with all the issues we are confronted with in the world. It had become my daily habit to start the day by checking the Coronavirus numbers of new cases and deaths, and then again every night before sleeping. I don’t need to tell anyone that I had some sleepless nights and felt a sense of helplessness.
Then, this week, I started reading a wonderful book titled Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster that was recommended to me by a fellow blogger. One of the things that struck me so hard was the fact that I had forgotten that there are times when we need solitude. It isn’t a selfish disengagement from the people around us or evidence of not caring about the world.
Instead, it is a time to just be alone, to get away from the constant “noise” of the world, and to reflect on the wonderful grace, mercy, provision, and presence of God. In the silence, I ask questions of myself that I never have time to think about when I have the electronics on for those 12 hours a day when it is light. Then I pray for God’s goodness and glory to enter into our world, realizing that all I have to give to the world is a God who is able to do the impossible.
In many instances in the New Testament, we read of Jesus finding lonely places, in mountains or in gardens, where he separated from His beloved disciples and the many people who came to Him for healing and prayed to the Father who sent him. God was the Source of His strength and power. Our Father is still that today for us, but we must get alone in lonely places and pray, so that He can give us peace and guidance for the journey ahead.