Day 12

Solitude and Community

from the Mourning and Dancing reading plan


Psalm 46:10, Lamentations 3:25-28, Mark 6:30-32, Matthew 11:25-30, Hebrews 10:23-25, Psalm 133:1, Matthew 18:20, Romans 12:4-5, Romans 12:15-19

God created us as complex creatures, capable of feeling and sensing a whole garden of emotions. Made in the image of our Creator, we can both grieve the wrongs of this world, and celebrate the sweetness of this life.

This 2-week reading plan will lead us through a series of passages from Scripture that examine the seasons of mourning and dancing in the life of a believer. In the written responses here on the site, our writers will enter into this tension, articulating their personal experiences with grief and joy in hopes of freeing you to explore your own. By immersing our hearts and minds in God’s Word, and honestly presenting our laments to Him, may we remember that God is present with us, He is good, and He is faithful.

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Solitude Scriptures: Psalm 46:10, Lamentations 3:25-28, Mark 6:30-32, Matthew 11:25-30
Community Scriptures: Hebrews 10:23-25, Psalm 133:1, Matthew 18:20, Romans 12:4-5, Romans 12:15-19

It is 3:00 AM. It’s hard to recall the last time I got a full night’s sleep. Around 1:00 AM, I awoke in a panic, my heart pounding. I am afraid. “It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord” (Lamentations 3:26), but in times of deep trouble, in seasons of fear and stress, it is not easy to wait quietly. It takes a supernatural strength.

Over the last few years, my family has been rattled and strained, pushed to the very verge of breaking. I could bear it with greater ease if it were some enemy from the outside that threatened, but it is not. We are shaken from the inside. At 3:00 AM, the world is either the dark valley of the shadow, or it is a hopeful quiet as dawn approaches. Sometimes it is both.

Six years ago, we decided to adopt two boys. I knew it would bring many challenges, but I also expected it would be a path of continual improvement, and that at the end of a short season of toil and trauma and struggle, our family would find its rhythm, and we would be normal.

Although I hold fast to the confession of our hope (Hebrews 4:14), my rosy dream has been shattered again and again. The impact of trauma, the waywardness of a son I love, and my own sins continually sow the seeds of upheaval.

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony” (Psalm 133:1)! But what happens when they do not? What happens when sin produces not only disruption, but bone-deep heartache, distress, and even fear?

I have been blessed to be surrounded by many dear friends who are willing to weep with me and pray with me, rather than try to fix everything and answer every question. In both solitude and in community, it is tempting to think that the proper response to sorrow is to put in our two cents, as if those who grieve need us.

Pride and ambition can disguise themselves as false shepherds. But they are hired hands, serving their own ends rather than those of the flock. There is only one true Shepherd. There is only one Comforter. He said, “come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while… Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mark 6:31, Matthew 11:28). In the turmoil of circumstance, He is the quiet. He is even our  joy.

I would like to have endless hours of solitude to sort through everything on my own. But morning comes, and the household awakes; many people are coming and going. Each day offers its fair share of troubles, and it is hard to know if I’m facing them well. If I see someone I love walking in rebellion, can I do anything but grieve? Grieving and praying are both much easier in those times of quiet and solitude. But I need to gather with others as well. Though it is difficult to open up and bring the painful truths to light, it is good.

I don’t have answers. I often do not know if I long more for fellowship or seclusion. I believe I am called to simply lean into the sorrow, and wait for Him. But I know this: two are better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9), and I often need that extra hand to lift me up when I am stumbling (Ephesians 4:9).

In community, as well as when we’re alone, the Comforter comes: “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).

Written By Caleb Faires

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