Vol.XX No.II Pg.6
April 1983


Robert F. Turner

Alone! Alone! What a stark, bleak, terror-filled word. Solitary confinement is one of man's most dreaded and destructive punishments. Who has not felt the agony of being excluded and left alone? Bold and strong Elijah wilted under its lash and cried out, "It is enough; now, 0 Lord, take away my life; ... I have been very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts ... and I, even I only, am left" (1 King. 19:4,10) No wonder God examined his creation and said, "It is not good that man should be alone" (Gen. 2:18). Nor is it surprising that Jesus gave special attention to his disciples when it was time to leave them. He assured them that they would not be left alone — orphans (Jno. 14:18). "I will pray the Father and he will give you another comforter" — one called to the side — "that he may abide with you forever" (Jno. 14:16).

God provided for man so that he would not have to be alone. First, he put man in the family. To Adam he gave "a help meet for him." — or a helper suitable to his needs. Family was endowed with the strongest and closest human ties — a refuge against being alone. Likewise, God gave the nation to meet man's social needs for "no man lives to himself." Finally the local church was designed to put together men of like faith and hope in God. God knew that in spiritual matters "it is not good that man should be alone." Few — if any — can make it alone. We are members "in particular" but solidly joined to the other members. None stands alone.

By design, the family, nation, and the local church should support and protect a man as he strives to serve God. Often that is not the case. The Lord prepared his disciples for being outcasts from family and society. And churches run by men like Diotrephes "cast out" righteous men. Even so, he is not alone. "At my first answer no man stood with me... notwithstanding the Lord stood with me:" (2 Tim. 4:16). We always have an advocate — a friend by our side.

When "all men forsake" us, we must not allow that to distort our values and perspective. Elijah did. Things were not as black as he painted them. "I only am left." There were seven thousand who had not bowed to Baal. His perspective was warned. "Take my life" shows his values are out of focus. Many decide to go to hell with a crowd rather than stand alone.

Yet there are places we must go alone. No comrade can stand at our side. In the garden, Jesus prayed alone; the disciples were left behind. They could not share his pain or his prayer. He was alone in his sorrow. We also must meet sorrow alone. Our friends encourage; they want to help. They weep with us, but it is ours alone in the last analysis. We say, "There is nothing you can do." Again, duty stands us alone. Brethren exhort but I alone can do my job — "For every man shall bear his own burden" (Gal. 6:5). And at last consider the final judgement where I stand alone even in so great a crowd. Churches and crowds are not judged here, but "every man ... receiving the things done in his body ... good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).

Joe Fitch, San Antonio, Tex.