As our Bible study teacher at House of Purpose recently taught, sometimes we need to experience some solitude – some me time. Think of it as an opportunity to separate ourselves from all things and connect and commune with the Father. Solitude can be a very good and healthy thing for us spiritually, emotionally and physically. Jesus Christ routinely sought periods of solitude. In Luke 5:16 (NIV), we read, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Sometimes His decision to experience a period of solitude was following miracles that He performed. Sometimes He would do so to escape the crowds that flocked to Him. And we know before He was betrayed, He spent time alone at Gethsemane.
But, we must guard against allowing our periods of solitude from taking root as isolation. When we allow ourselves to become isolated from the Body of Christ, the enemy can begin to attack us in our thoughts. So much of what we experience in our faith journey occurs in how we think. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV), Paul writes, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
When we allow ourselves to pull back from the body of Christ and experience periods of isolation, we are vulnerable to attacks from the enemy. We may begin to question our faith. We may wonder why the pastor doesn’t talk to me. We may think that we just don’t fit into the church family anymore. I had a pastor tell me once about his faith journey prior to becoming a pastor. He said he was raised in the church. He said he faithfully attended. Then he skipped church one Sunday and it lasted for two years.
Being connected to the vine that is Jesus Christ and to a church family is vital to our spiritual walk. Solitude can become isolation. And isolation can become depression. The enemy loves nothing more than to see a person being pressed down. It can be a very dangerous situation for the person experiencing it.
Now the body of Christ that is grounded, connected and thriving, has a role when it comes to those who have become isolated. The Holy Spirit will convict those within whom He dwells. He will bring to your awareness of an individual who needs encouragement. It is easy to disregard the leading of the Holy Spirit. Oftentimes the leading isn’t comfortable for us or may not make sense in the natural realm. The Holy Spirit will lay someone on your spirit. When we experience this, we should reach out to the person and speak words of life, love and encouragement to them. A phone call or visit may be just what was needed to stir the person out of their isolation. This is not the responsibility of only the pastor. It is for each of us.
Just last week I was experiencing a period of despair. It came out of the blue and punched me in the gut. My wife immediately went to praying over me. Later that same day, an individual who I had previously ministered reached out to me as he was in need of encouragement. In a moment, I was stirred away from my despair and in a direction of supporting him.
If you attend church regularly and you notice someone who routinely attends has missed a couple of weeks, take it upon yourself to reach out to the person. Check in with them and see how they are doing. If you know someone has been under the weather and required medical treatment, check in with their family to see if they have any unmet needs that you might be able to meet. When we do these things we may just help someone from falling into a season of isolation. It might serve to encourage you in your faith walk. It will certainly bring glory to God as you become the hands and feet of Jesus.
Pray in all situations so that you will know precisely the words to use in encouraging another. You just might make the difference in someone’s life.