Another way people can feel lonely and isolated is when they flee or are expelled from their home country. In the course of my work I have encountered hundreds of political refugees from Europe, the Middle East and Asia who have fled their homelands because of persecution, political instability, war and hostile physical conditions. The stories I’ve heard from them are testimony to the resilience of the human spirit to survive.
There is a book in the Bible that relates the fortunes of an Israelite family who fled to Moab because of famine and hunger. Moab wasn’t exactly an ideal sanctuary for them as around this time the left-handed Ehud had slain their fat king who had been impoverishing Israel with his heavy tribute demands (Judg. 3:12-31).
Nevertheless, Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and his young sons, Mahlon and Kilion, to this land. Never mind that God had told Israel to never extend the hand of friendship to a Moabite (Deut. 23;3-5). Mahlon and Kilion later on went so far as to marry Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah.
The marriages couldn’t have lasted long because all 3 women were suddenly left as childless widows. Naomi, embittered by the miserable turn of events, resolved to return to Israel. Her daughters in law wanted to go with her but Naomi was adamant that they should return to their families, culture and gods. One widow did return to Moab but Ruth passionately clung to Naomi, her people and her God.
I want to stop here for today and pause to think about Ruth’s decision. Young Ruth was willing to let go of everything she held dear for an uncertain future, with a people who had historically hated the Moabites. Naomi could promise her nothing except a subsistence living scavenging for food.
Cast your mind into Ruth’s mind and feel her loneliness and isolation. Apart from a lovely mother in law (who was fraught with her own issues) she had nothing and no hope of anything, yet she CHOSE to give up everything to be a part of Naomi’s world and God.
Jesus CHOSE to give up His home in heaven (Phil. 2:6-8) to humbly live among us. In every way He was like us but He was hated by many and ultimately CHOSE to allow Himself to die. His death meant that He could carry the penalty for our sins and open the way for us to travel to His home.
That my Saviour would leave the beauty and perfection of heaven to live in a hostile environment as a mortal feeling pain, suffering isolation, rejection and abandonment, even from God (Matt. 27:46), is staggering but He did that for you and me to be with Him for eternity.
He loves you that much and that strongly. The only response He wants from you is for you to make Him Lord of your life (Rom. 10:10).
Unlike Jesus, you will never have to feel the pain or abandonment from God, because He paid that price for you.
All quotations are from the NLT.