It is possible to be in a crowd full of people and still feel cut off from others.
Nobody in their right mind likes to feel that they are unheard, overlooked, or unappreciated. Maybe you’re going through a tough situation as a mom, and nobody in your house seems to understand or care about how you’re feeling. This produces that feeling of bleakness or desolation.
But loneliness is not always a bad thing.
As with most situations and emotions, what matters most is your response. What do you do when you’re lonely? I’m a flaming extrovert who will literally go crazy if I don’t spend time either with people or at least talking to people every day. When I feel like nobody cares and that I’m being overlooked, my first instinct is to medicate by running to the nearest coffee shop hangout with friends or calling somebody up to come over so I feel like I matter. I thrive on that interaction. When introverts feel overlooked and unappreciated, their instinct to withdraw can often lead to isolation. In a day and age where social media is everywhere, affirmation and communication are highly sought after on public platforms. People are craving connections where they feel like they belong and matter.
With this in mind, how could loneliness possibly be a good thing?
In case it’s been a while since you’ve read the story, let me recap. David is the man. The tough but sensitive king who successfully conquered any army that defied Jehovah established a prosperous nation and was referred to by the Lord Himself as a man after God’s own heart. He is a hero in Sunday School (i.e. David & Goliath, David Snaps a Lions Neck, David Writes Psalms, etc. etc.).
But before all of these things, David was a boy. He was a shepherd who spent his days watching after some measly old sheep. They couldn’t sing, dance, cook for him, or tell him how handsome he was. Like us in this quarantine, he didn’t have Target trips, coffee with friends, or parties. He didn't even have Instagram or phone calls to connect with people. *shudder* He was alone. All David had was a lyre (sort of like a harp except not), a slingshot, and God.
One day, David (still a boy watching sheep) is visited by the prophet Samuel. The Bible tells us that everything Samuel said came to pass, so you’d better believe David’s ears perked up when the prophet called for him. David was told that he was God’s chosen--anointed to be king over Israel. Instead of marching to the palace to claim his throne, he went right back to his sheep. Day in and day out, he hurled his songs to the heavens where the Lord was taking notes. He was an excellent shepherd, protective, and full of faith.
God saw in David a heart that was pure and that loved Him more than any throne or status. However, I’m sure there were times in those fields that--after settling the sheep where the grazing was good and pelting a few rocks into some trees with his trusty slingshot--David watched stars and wondered how and why God would use him. He probably replayed the scene with Samuel in his head and wrote new songs full of wonder and gratitude. After his famous encounter with Goliath, he winds up in the courts of King Saul. But still, instead of becoming Saul’s favored protege who rises in the ranks, learns the customs of the palace and gracefully accepts the throne...he has spears thrown at him.
Shortly after, we find a weeping David cowering in caves--being chased down by Saul’s goons. If anybody knew what it felt like to feel unloved and unappreciated, David sure did.
“But I Thought the Lord Anointed and Called Me?”
Well, David, He did.
Young lady who is wondering why the call of God you received at a youth camp altar years ago or the vision for your life God gave you in your late teens is not turning out the way you thought, He did.
But you’re going to have to hang out in a field with some sheep first. You’re going to have to forge a relationship with God for yourself, away from noise and people and the dazzling lights of public affirmation. You’re going to have to establish for yourself that God is the most important thing you will ever chase.
That priority is not established when everything is sunshine and roses.
That priority is established when a bear comes to snack on one of your sheep and you’re the only one around to handle it.
That priority is established when you’re alone crying out to God for direction, a clean heart, and clean hands.
That priority is established when you can't get into a church building and you've got to pray through in your own house, by yourself.
The only thing that kept David throughout his ordeal with Saul and even through his reign as king over Israel, was the relationship with God he had built in a pasture. It was that same relationship that made him effective in what God had originally called him to do.
What Do You Do in the Field?
When you feel like nobody cares, when you feel like God has passed you by and you’re unnoticed and alone, what do you do? Do you run to social media, worldly friends, overtime at work, movies, or YouTube binges? Are you like Saul, and you just seek affirmation from outsiders while disregarding the voice of the One who put you there in the first place? Or do you follow the example found in the story of David and find your confidence, direction, and peace in Jesus smack in the middle of your lonely field?
If all you do is keep up a good front in public but do not cultivate a private life to know God for yourself, the byproducts of living in a fallen world will be detrimental instead of simply a lesson to learn.
Strive to know God for yourself.
When everyone else seems to be fitting perfectly into their role in the Kingdom while you are struggling to find your place, take the opportunity to learn the voice of God for yourself. Take time to study the Word each day; let it sharpen and convict you. Pray for God’s heartbeat above your own will; He delights so much in this. Obviously, don’t shut out the church, because it is for the equipping of saints and vital to your success, but know that simply being preached to and spending time around godly people does not make you godly. You’ll have to get alone in a sheep field to do that.