The Fears of Isolation and Abandondment
Fear is a powerful emotion that is experienced by everyone. It’s usually an unpleasant feeling producing anxiety, dread, or emotional paralysis. Dread is the fear of anticipating something disagreeable that has yet to happen. Fright is experienced when danger suddenly approaches. Terror is overwhelming fear. Panic is an unreasonable fear that spreads quickly and causes poor judgments. These forms of fear can paralyze a believer into not sharing their faith.
The fear of being alone is one such paralyzing fear. It’s often associated with feeling like God is nowhere to be found (Ps 14:1). A sense that God is not present can be from ignorance of his existence, rebellion against his will, or allowing fear to dominate your emotions (Rom 1:18-28). Fearing isolation can leave a person feeling powerless and overwhelmed.
We are creatures designed to be connected with others and God. The fear of being left alone makes a person anti-social. It can affect a sense of feeling secure when you’re alone at home. It produces feelings of nervousness in a crowd of people, especially if you don’t know anyone in the group. Children feel fearful when they lose sight of their parents in a store. Elderly adults fear living in seclusion after a spouse or sibling dies. Fear makes you feel socially disconnected. It is like a self-fulling prophecy—the more you fear isolation the more you move away from relationships.
Techniques for combating feelings of loneliness include listening to the radio as background noise or getting involved in social organizations to interact with others. Church services and religious activities are occasions when feelings of loneliness can be thwarted for a time.
But, the most comforting way to overcome feelings of isolation is to trust God’s promise that he will always be with those who belong to him (Isa 35:4, Jn 14:23, Mt 11:28). God is able to be everywhere at every moment with every one of his people. He is not sleeping or too busy to attend to your needs twenty-four seven (Gen 26:3, Ex 3:12, Jos 1:5, Isa 43:1-3a). God is eternal, which means he can be everywhere all the time and with every person he created. God has no limits on his time or resources so he will never abandon you.
Even after we sin, God promises not to leave us. His indwelling Holy Spirit always abides in his people. The presence of his Spirit assures us we are not alone. Because God is ever-present, we never need to feel abandoned (Jn 13:33-35). God is acutely aware of the human need for companionship. He designed us to be people who need friendships (Gen 2:18). We were created as connectional beings. Sin causes separation from both God’s love and human love. It causes separation from family and friends. Salvation includes the promise that there will be no more fear of separation from God and one of its side benefits is that we won’t be separated from others.
Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs to share the Gospel (Mk 6:7). They didn’t share the Gospel in isolation. Part of their gospel presentation included sharing it in pairs. Fellowship was part of the process of evangelism. Another person was at their side to confirm the truthfulness of the Gospel and to pray for the one speaking. Going out in pairs was a visual image of the gospel. The Gospel includes fellowship with God and with each other.
The fear of being left alone isn’t unique to Christians. Everyone at some point in their lives fears some level of abandonment. The gospel proposes a God who offers his indwelling presence to anyone who trusts him with their lives (Josh 1:5, Isa 43:2-4). The gospel message includes conquering the fear of being alone by having the presence of God’s Holy Spirit (Ps 51:11, Ez 36:26-28). This is part of each Christian’s testimony.
Has God Left You Alone?
One of the hardest things to do is share your faith when you think you are the only one around that trusts in Christ. Elijah held a contest on Mount Carmel as he alone faced fifty prophets of Baal (1 Kg 18:21). He won the contest but shortly afterward, Queen Jezebel became furious of the fate of her prophets and Elijah had to flee for his life. He thought he was the only one left who remained faithful to God’s word (1 Kg 19:14). Though Elijah thought he was alone, God had reserved 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed to Baal (vs 18). In reality, he was not alone.
God thought it important to reveal to his prophet that he was not the only one who worshiped Yehovah. The first person Elijah met when he returned to Israel was Elisha, his soon to be protégé and the man who would take up his cause after he was gone. They teamed up in ministry just as Jesus would 900 years later team up his disciples as they shared the good news.
Feeling isolated is a terrible feeling. It can squelch the hottest levels of enthusiasm. Today the persecuted Christian family is often made to feel alone so as to discourage the propagation of the gospel. But God has other plans. Those who fight against the gospel the hardest are often those who become the most devoted to Christ after their conversion.
We never know who God is speaking to when we share our faith, but we always know God is speaking and his Spirit is opening ears to hear what the Spirit is saying (Rev 2:11,17,29). In the context of being a light to the world, Jesus warns that “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mk 4:9, 23). He gave that warning because people within hearing of his voice were being called to follow him. They could hear what he was saying because God’s Spirit was at work opening their ears and enabling them to respond.
The fear of being left alone is a fear stemming from the false notion that God abandons his people. God promised Moses that he would be with him and, though leading such a large nation of people was overwhelming, he had nothing to fear (Deut 31:6). God also promised Joshua that after Moses died he too would have no reason to be terrified. The Lord would be with him wherever he went (Josh 1:5, 9). This promise is for everyone testifying in the name of Jesus. God is with us too (Mt 28:20). Jesus promised that he would never leave us. We would never actually be abandoned, even though, like Elijah, we might feel isolated (Mk 13:11). We can share our faith in peace and without fear because another counselor is given to us until Jesus returns (Jn 14:16, 27).
Personal Time: Read a number of the Scripture references and thank God for always being there for you. Ask him to enhance your experience with him by allowing you to sense his presence and allow his Spirit to comfort you when the fear of isolation confronts you. Do you fear that God will distance himself from you? Why? What do you think is greater than the grace and love of Jesus? Confess a lack of faith if necessary. Ask Jesus to empower your faith. Part of your unique testimony is the accumulation of your trails and victories over fears, and how God remains with you in all