"And he that sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone." John 8:29.
OUR Lord's was a solitary life. He mingled indeed with man, He labored for man, He associated with man, He loved man; but He "trod the twine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him." And yet He was not all alone. Creatures, one by one, had deserted His side, and left Him homeless, friendless, solitary—but there was One, the consciousness of whose ever-clinging, ever-brightening, ever-cheering presence infinitely more than supplied the lack. "Behold, the hour comes, yes, is now come, that you shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me."
The disciples of Christ, like their Lord and Master, often feel themselves alone. The season of sickness, the hour of bereavement, the period of trial, is often the occasion of increased depression from the painful consciousness of the solitude and loneliness in which it is borne. The heavenly way we travel is more or less a lonely way. We have at most but few companions. It is a "little flock," and only here and there we meet a traveler, who, like ourselves, is journeying towards the Zion of God. As the way is narrow, trying, and humiliating to flesh, but few, under the drawings of the Spirit, find it. If, indeed, true religion consisted in mere profession, then there were many for Christ. But if the true travelers are men of broken heart, poor in spirit, who mourn for sin, who know the music of the Shepherd's voice, who follow the Lamb, who delight in the throne of grace, and who love the place of the cross, then there are but 'few' with whom the true saints journey to heaven in fellowship and communion.
But not from these causes alone springs the sense of loneliness which the saints often feel. There is the separation of loving hearts, and of kindred minds, and of intimate relationships, by the providential ordering and dealings of God. The changes of this changing world—the alteration of circumstances—the removals to new and distant positions—the wastings of disease, and the ravages of death, often sicken the heart with a sense of friendlessness and loneliness which finds its best expression in the words of the Psalmist, "I watch, and am as a sparrow alone on the housetop."
But should we murmur at the solitary way along which our God is conducting us? Is it not His way, and therefore the best way? In love He gave us friends—in love He has removed them. In goodness He blessed us with health—in goodness He has taken it away. And yet this is the way along which He is conducting us to glory. And shall we rebel? Heaven is the home of the saints; "here we have no continuing city." And shall we repine that we are in the right road to heaven? Christ, our heart's treasure, is there. And shall we murmur that the way that leads us to it and to Himself is sometimes enshrouded with dark and mournful solitude? Oh, the distinguished privilege of treading the path that Jesus walked in!
But the solitude of the Christian has its sweetness. The Savior tasted it when He said, "the Father has not left me alone;" and all the lonely way that He traveled, He leaned upon God. And you cannot be in reality alone, when you remember that Christ and you are one—that by His Spirit He dwells in the heart, and that therefore He is always near to participate in each circumstance in which you may be placed. Your very solitude He shares; with your sense of loneliness the sympathizes. You cannot be friendless, since Christ is your friend. You cannot be relationless, since Christ is your brother. You cannot be unprotected, since Christ is your shield. Want you an arm to lean upon? His is outstretched. Want you a heart to repose in? His invites you to its affection and its confidence. Want you a companion to converse with? He welcomes you to His fellowship. Oh sweet solitude, sweetened by such a Savior as this! always present to comfort, to counsel, and to protect in times of trial, perplexity, and danger.