Loneliness is about the scariest thing out there.
– Joss Whedon
Jesus said to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’
– John 6:67
I sat at the back of the church next to my friends, basking in the glow of a beautiful Sunday morning service.
At the front of the cavernous sanctuary, the worship team played softly under the dimmed lights. The pastor prayed over the communion plates before they were passed across the rows of people gathered under this one roof.
As he held up the communion wafer and cup of grape juice, the pastor quoted the familiar charge by Jesus to His disciples on that last fateful Passover before His sacrifice: Eat My body. Drink My blood.
None of us think Jesus wanted His disciples to be cannibals. He meant that He alone contains all we need for life. He wants us to hunger for Him, to take Him in as seriously as we fill our bellies. In communion we identify with His sacrifice and our redemption.
But two thousand years ago, when Jesus introduced this principle to humanity, this made no sense. His words shocked his followers. Had they given up their lives to follow a madman? They grumbled among themselves. People walked away.
Suddenly the crowds that had eagerly followed Him hoping for food or healing were gone. Jesus turned to the twelve who were left and asked them if they were going to desert Him, too. His words, piercing as always, reached out beyond their frustration to touch what was left of their faith.
Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
The road to eternal life is narrow, often so much that only one at a time can pass over the treacherous waters that threaten to drown our faith.
Loneliness haunts many of us. At times, God takes us down a path devoid of companion or explanation. Other times, our stand for the truth leaves us in the dust of the crowd’s discontent.
God knows how we feel. It is in the hour we comprehend Him the least that we must trust Him the most. When we are misunderstood by others, we can cling to His hand and rejoice in knowing that God promises to strongly support those whose hearts are completely His (2 Chronicles 16:9).
As Jesus stood in the crowd, He must have longed for someone to love Him enough to trust Him, even when His words didn’t make sense. How He must have yearned for them to believe at least in His goodness, if not in His sanity. Today, He still longs to find those who will make the effort to get to know Him, to understand enough of His nature to realize He will never forsake those who love Him. He is perfect. He is wise. He is always here, waiting to fill us again.