Daily Devotion for September 18, 2020

The Antidote for Loneliness

If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  (John 14:15-20) 

Often a portion of John 14 is read at funerals when we need comfort and feel the deep emptiness and loneliness that comes with the loss of one whom we love. Loss is indeed all around us. Postponed funerals, closed buildings and canceled events compound our loneliness. A dear friend recently pointed out that Bruce Springsteen got it right (grammar aside) and of course Alfred Lord Tennyson before him:  “Everybody’s got a hungry heart.”

Everybody's got a hungry heart
Everybody's got a hungry heart
Lay down your money and you play your part
Everybody's got a hungry heart
Everybody needs a place to rest
Everybody wants to have a home
Don't make no difference what nobody says
Ain't nobody like to be alone

Springsteen says we need to do our part. So does Jesus. Jesus promised that our love for him would serve as an antidote for our loneliness. “If you love me, keep my commands.” It is our love for Jesus, our acceptance of him that brings our awareness of the Advocate and his presence. This is “our part.” It is most apparent in the words from John that love and keeping commands yields the abiding presence of an advocate and his very presence in us. While others will leave us, Jesus won’t. This may not take away all the pain of a loss, but Jesus’s presence, invited in by our love for him, comforts us and assuages our loneliness. Perhaps this happens through an invitation into deep prayer or the Word, or perhaps as actions we are motivated to take as disciples of Jesus borne of our love for him.

Come and fill our heart with your love, Jesus, that we may connect with you and with one another. Amen.

May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.