Open Your Bible
Genesis 28:10-22, Genesis 32:24-32, Matthew 14:6-14, Matthew 14:22-23, Mark 1:35-39, John 16:32
By Sean Bess
The word solitude has many connotations (e.g. silence, seclusion, etc.), but it’s worth noting that when the Bible mentions solitude it does so with favorableness. Sure, Scripture talks about feelings of rejection, abandonment, and the like, but these sentiments are never conflated with solitude. Instead, solitude is held high in Scripture as an aspiration and is often romanticized by the authors. For example, in Psalm 55:6, King David wrote, “If only I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and find rest.” You see, David fantasized about solitude and equated going away with finding rest.
The Gospels are replete with instances in which Jesus took time to escape from the public eye and be alone with the Father. Following the death of John the Baptist, Scripture says that Jesus left for a remote place (Matthew 14:13). And immediately following that scene in the text, Jesus fed more than 5,000 men, women, and children with five loaves of bread and two fish. Afterward, there wasn’t an after-party. There wasn’t a meet-and-greet or a line for autographs. Rather, Jesus sent the crowds away and went up on a mountain by Himself to pray (v.23).
Notice the dichotomy between these two examples. In Matthew 14:1–13, we have a tragic death and a scene of injustice, but in verses 14–23, we have a miracle and an otherworldly act of mercy. If each of these passages were premises for films, the first would easily be rated “R,” as it’s a disturbingly dramatic scene. The second passage, on the other hand, is a feel-good affair, safe for the whole family. And yet, both passages conclude in the same fashion: Jesus seeks solitude. From Jesus’s examples, it seems clear that solitude was always meant to precede and follow all of life’s greatest events (regardless of the nature of those events). Luke summed it up nicely in his Gospel when he wrote, “Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).
Whether we are wrestling with life’s traumas and reeling from loss, or enraptured and overwhelmed by God’s miraculous works, solitude is always our next step; it is always on the believer’s agenda, forever in our spiritual playbook. Wherever you look in Scripture, it’s apparent that true intimacy with the Father is only achieved, in part, by devoting oneself to a rhythm of solitude.
Here’s a guarantee: God will never stand you up. He won’t leave you alone in deserted places. He won’t leave you abandoned in your isolation. He won’t leave you marooned in your solitude. We can slip away to be alone with God, knowing that He waits to meet with us.
Written by Sean Bess