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Devotional

Created for Fellowship

by GINNY LUPKA LONELINESS/ISOLATION Connecting with nationals Culture adjustment Culture shock Isolation & loneliness
Created for Fellowship
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”
Psalms 30:11-12
“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”
Genesis 2:18-22
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:10-13

My husband and I have been joking recently that our pastor secretly signed us up for an “extra-intense” version of our first year of marriage as he signed our marriage license. Friends, this past year has been a lot. Within the past eleven months, we have said goodbye to our beloved community and our church, moved across the country, started seminary and new jobs, and got two adorable kittens (okay, that part wasn’t so bad) – all during a global pandemic and heated election year.  


Even in the midst of our newlywed love, moving across the country during a pandemic served as the perfect environment for some peak isolation and loneliness. Instead of dealing with my loneliness with acceptance and grace, I wrestled with guilt and shame. Even though I knew it was untrue, I was haunted by a suspicion that my loneliness was a product of a shallow relationship with the Lord or a deficit in my relationship with my husband.  


The truth of it is that God did not create us to be spiritual hermits, solely investing in our relationship with him and ignoring the need for human connection. He cares for us faithfully and gently, meeting our spiritual, emotional, and physical needs continually. For example, the Psalms are full of testimony to God’s relational care of the psalmist. As the writer cries out from seasons of deep suffering and isolation, he attests to the Lord’s faithfulness to comfort and support him.  


God also designed us to be relational people, primarily maturing and developing through our interactions with other humans. When God declared that “it was not good for man to be alone,” in Genesis 2:18, he wasn’t talking about marriage – rather, he was proclaiming that a cornerstone of human development is our fellowship with other people. Through relationships, we learn how to be vulnerable, how to communicate our needs, how to listen well, how to navigate conflict, how to care for others, and how to set boundaries. When we are isolated, we will obviously have to attend to this relational need in different ways.   


In addition to spending intentional devotional time with the Lord, I have found it helpful during seasons of isolation to reach out to friends and family that are far away. Scheduling recurring times for video calls, phone chats, or exchanging letters like old-fashioned pen pals gives me something to look forward to. I also find it helpful to explore the city or town around me and look for things that cause me to appreciate the beautiful similarities and differences of people made in the image of God. Sometimes this is as simple as taking more time to interact with the people I already come into contact with – the grocery shop worker, the post person, my neighbor as we great each other in the hallway. Other times, I find it life-giving to sit in a local park or bustling café and just enjoy being around other people. Deriving joy in observing community interactions and taking time to pray for the people in my neighborhood causes me to feel relationally cared for, even during a season of loneliness. 


Please know that while loneliness can feel so dark and overwhelming, and you are truly not alone in this experience. There is nothing wrong with you and nothing to be ashamed of. God made you to be a beautifully relational person, soaking up fellowship with other people who diversely reflect the image of God. Please take courage as you wait for the Lord to minister to your heart and surround you with deep, fulfilling community again.


Closing Prayer
Dear Lord, please give me courage and strength as I walk through this season of loneliness. Please be near to me. Please help me to be intentional in my time in the Word and in my interactions with the people around me. I am so grateful that you are ever-present and that you care so deeply for my well-being. You are mighty, kind, and gracious. Thank you for providing for me in ways that I could not have asked for or expected. Father, please restore me to community and help me to rest in the hope of your provision. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Resources
Music Album: “Eden” by Audrey Assad I find Audrey Assad’s voice both angelic and haunting and her lyrics are lifegiving. The lyrics of “Shiloh” resonated with me during my season of isolation and I hope that they will be an encouragement to you too.
Question for Reflection

Think back to a time where you felt isolated and lonely. How did God provide for you?

Comments
Ginny Lupka
November 23, 2021

When I first moved to the field in a notable American city in 2016, I began teaching ESL lessons to a local community center. I quickly realized that the women in my ESL classes were also struggling deeply with culture shock and isolation, so through a miscellaneous combination of my language and theirs, we began sharing our stories and found comfort and healing together. What a blessing.


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