Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Psalm 25:16
The scene is all too familiar in the movies. A person gets stranded on an island in an off the path area. He creates an SOS in the sand, hoping that someone up above in a plane will notice. Finally, he hears the plane flying close to his island and he rushes to the beach waving his arms to be noticed. The plane appears for a moment to bring much needed help and then turns in the opposite direction. The survivor feels doubly lonely and without hope.
King David poetically captures the feelings of isolation that many of us feel of loneliness and hopelessness. Even in the middle of crowded malls and shopping lines we can feel isolated. The joy of Christmas and celebration can elude many. We are encouraged to tough it up and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. This too is wearisome if we don’t know the end goal of all of our walking.
The key to hope is in the “turning” and then the “mercy”. The Hebrew word for turn (panah) means to look upon by implication to turn and face something. David was asking God to turn and face him. Locking eyes communicates volumes as the Bible declares the eyes are the windows of the soul.
Often an oppressed person will walk with their head down and eyes to the ground. This is easily seen in the body language of children when they are upset. Watch the direction of their eyes. Help for the child will include words, but so is facing one another and locking eyes. Speak lovingly and gracious to the hurting child and clear and directive to the rebellious.
How do you look face to face with God who is Spirit? Why does it feel doubly lonely when we can not see God physically? How will we know that God is “turning” to face me, so that I can know to look back? I’ve found 4 ways that are helpful for me in times when I feel isolated.
- Look for identification of help in the Word. I don’t feel quite as alone when I know that someone else has gone through similar experiences and made it through. That is why the Psalmist speaks to so many people, his words relate to our feelings and he points us back to God. The Bible has multiple examples of people struggling in their pursuit of life and relating to God.
- I physically redirect the positioning of my body. I turn my head toward the heavens in an act of faith. “I lift my head up unto the heavens”…my help comes from above. Taking an action of authority over my body, starts the process to place me in the right position to receive help from God. Sometimes this includes kneeling or even becoming prostrate upon the floor as a position of need. Changing the positioning of my body places me on the path toward my help
- Immerse yourself in worshipful songs. I find that songs speak to our spirits. I may not feel like singing, but I let the music create the atmosphere of worship. God inhabits the praises of His people. If I need to be close to God when I am struggling, I find worship is a good place to find Him.
- Connect, reconnect, spend time with, or hang out with other encouraging believers of God. God puts the lonely in families. This becomes especially true for those who follow God as you are now a part of this huge one family. All of the “one another” verses are now applicable when you are engaged with other believers in Jesus. Just showing up to church is helpful, but that is not engaging. Talking over a meal, going shopping, taking a walk together, praying over the phone with one another are all examples of engaging with others.
Yesterday, I got out of my car at Home Depot and heard something hit the pavement. I saw a construction worker loading his supplies into the back of his van in which he had dropped two items. I started to assist in picking them up…he was fully capable of doing it himself…”it’s okay, I can do it myself” he said. I knelt down and handed him the two items. We locked eyes for a moment. A slight smile came over his face…”Merry Christmas”, said he.
May you receive the needed turning when you are lonely and oppressed. May you be the face of hope that someone else needs.
Blessings Love y’all