God is not Enough?

polar-bear-dogs-1Hunting, panting, searing, consuming,
the lingering silence echoes into a dark and endless eternity.
A ravenous velociraptor is Loneliness.
Rage has slain his thousands,
but Loneliness her ten thousands.

Often a young woman will confide in an older, usually married woman that she feels a desire for a companion. Life is a struggle alone. The conversation may then go something like this, “Well my dear, I once knew a missionary lady who was very content to give Bible studies and work for the Lord. She seemed very happy. The Lord was enough for her.” (1) With that statement, the conversation usually ends. Having been the recipient of such advice, I must that say I left feeling guilty and quite ashamed for feeling lonely. I wondered if perhaps this condemnation might be justified. Maybe I am just not spiritual enough, or not praying enough, or something is just not enough. There must be something wrong with me. This counsel certainly cannot be refuted or even challenged without severe disturbances to the psyche. Surely, God is enough, isn’t He?

To answer that question let us go back the Garden of Eden. Here we will find an introduction to the human condition of loneliness and God’s response. In Genesis, we see Adam created in the image of God and given a command to name all the animals. We read, “And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought [them] unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that [was] the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:19,20.

Prior to this statement in Genesis 2:18 we find, “And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone”. Hey, wait a minute, wasn’t God there? Right there in these verses we see God communing face to face with Adam. Wasn’t that enough? Why didn’t God say, “Adam, Adam, you can just talk to Me. That’s all you need.” But He did not. Instead, God Himself declares, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Though God was there, the man would be ‘alone’.

The sequence of verses in Genesis 2:18-20 led me to understand that God actually created a scenario, which would cause Adam to feel his need. God anticipated Adam’s loneliness and made plans to meet that need. However, in God’s design, Adam would need to feel loneliness before he was given his companion. His loneliness was not a sin.

In the book ‘Conflict and Courage’, we find a daily devotional reading, which elaborates on these thoughts. It is entitled “Someone to Share.”

“After the creation of Adam every living creature was brought before him to receive its name; he saw that to each had been given a companion, but among them “there was not found an help meet for him.” Among all the creatures that God had made on the earth, there was not one equal to man. And God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Man was not made to dwell in solitude; he was to be a social being. Without companionship the beautiful scenes and delightful employments of Eden would have failed to yield perfect happiness. Even communion with angels could not have satisfied his desire for sympathy and companionship. There was none of the same nature to love and to be loved. {CC 14.2}

 

God Himself gave Adam a companion. He provided “an help meet for him”–a helper corresponding to him–one who was fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love and sympathy. Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him. A part of man, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, she was his second self; showing the close union and the affectionate attachment that should exist in this relation. “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it” (Ephesians 5:29). “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one” (Genesis 2:24).

There are several interesting statements worth repeating. “Even communion with angels could not have satisfied his desire for sympathy and companionship” and “ There was none of the same nature to love and to be loved.” {CC 14.2}

So even angels could not have met Adam’s need. God Himself did not meet the need in a direct way. Why? Adam needed ‘one of the same nature’ to love. We have indeed been made in God’s image, but we are not of the same nature. To supply Adam’s need to love and be loved ‘by one of the same nature’, God created a woman.

This point also begs the question, “Have women just totally lost their way?” This kind of viewpoint is not what we see in our progressive feminist culture. If the very reason woman was created was to be the companion of a man, would not she feel lost without this? And so it is true for many. Research acquiesces that many liberated and successful women find career alone unfulfilling and long for family. (2) This is not sinful or shameful – it is natural.

The older we get, the more we hear people talk about their aches and pains. For instance, our friends may complain that they have a sore back. Their knees feel fine but their back hurts. Human beings are capable of strange and conflicting emotions. We can truly love and trust God, commune with Him deeply and work for Him fervently – our knees feel fine. But our back still hurts, we feel loneliness and struggle. It is not a sin to hurt; it is not sinful to feel loneliness; it is part of the human condition. God designed it so.

But what about Paul? Did not he say we should all be like him? “For I would that all men were even as I myself.” Yet, he seems to go on to speak of singleness as a gift. “But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” I Corinthians 7:7  He also speaks of a man “that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity.” I Corinthians 7:37 These verses taken together seem to indicate that some will not feel a need for marriage by virtue of a gift of God. However, if one has not been given this gift, “let them marry, they have not sinned.” I Corinthians 7:9,28

So let us go back to our missionary lady. We would think her unbalanced if she said, “I don’t need to eat or sleep, I have the Lord.”  But for the needs of her heart some want to believe that she does not need companionship because she gives Bible studies. If she were lonely at times, needed one of the same nature to love, and used her Bible students as personal confidants, we would find this unethical and rightly so. Could it be that she needs someone even though she is a faithful missionary?

So, is God enough?
Of course He is.

However, He has chosen to supply all our needs according to the laws He Himself placed within our being. He gives food, water, sunshine, and fresh air for physical health. He gives love, family, and fellowship for our emotional and mental health, and just as importantly, it serves as a type of the deep love that exists in the Godhead. (3)

Often we are dismissive of loneliness as though it were merely a trivial inconvenience. “Oh, she’s just lonely”, observers may comment. But this denies a fundamental principal of life. The deepest need of any living creature is for connection, oneness, belonging.  We have been created in the image of God and we know that God is love. Love is the essence of His being or should I say Their being.  Love implies oneness with others.  The drive for human connection, oneness and belonging is deeper than the drive of hunger.  Though everything else may be supplied, without this connection there is great loss.  Data from maternal deprivation studies, the scandalous old world communist orphanages and even earlier experiments by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (1194-1250) reveal the need for human connection. (4,5,6)  

This longing for connection extends even into the animal world. The heartwarming photo inserted in this blog has an interesting story behind it. Pictures of the polar bear and the sled dog originally published in National Geographic in 1994 went viral several years later.  The sled dog was tethered and should have been devoured by the ravenous bear, but instead they play and cuddle. The story is told by Robert Krulwich in his science blog.  (7)

This couldn’t be.

 

A 1,200 pound male polar bear (especially when it’s autumn and he hasn’t eaten for four months) doesn’t make play-dates with an animal from another species. He doesn’t arrive every afternoon to cuddle, nuzzle, hug and roll around with a dog. Brian Ladoon claimed it was happening, but Norbert Rosing thought Brian was smoking something. He wanted to see for himself.

 

Rosing was (and is) a famous nature photographer, who for a time specialized in polar bears. Back in 1991, Brian Ladoon owned a bunch of huskies and kept them loosely chained behind his house in Churchill, Manitoba. In the fall, hundreds of polar bears arrived in and around Churchill to wait for ice to form on nearby Hudson Bay. When it got cold enough, they’d walk, sometimes right through town, jump on the ice and sail out, looking for seals and fish to eat. On an autumn afternoon, Rosing settled down at Brian’s house and waited for the bear he thought would never come.

 

But it came. Exactly as Brian had promised.

Solitary confinement is a universally applied form of torture.  It was the crushing weight of guilt and loneliness that wrung from our Savior the cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (8)  Those that see themselves as lonely have a 30%-45% increased risk of dying. (9,10)

Loneliness can make you do some very stupid things.
It should not to be underestimated.
It is a fearsome predator.
Loneliness along with its companion, Boredom, has ruined untold thousands.

We are entering into the last days of earth’s history and perhaps the ‘present distress’ or the ‘shortness of time’ necessitates sacrifices which one will be called to make. ‘Some with wives will be as though they had none’. (11) This we know will come, but the circumstance will bring in its train much suffering.

How precious the promise that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for those that love Him”. (12) Someday all tears will be wiped away. Nevertheless, while here in this often dark and lonely world, we still have need of the sympathizing ear, the compassionate heart, the tender touch of warm and gentle hands.

My plea is simply for empathy rather than condemnation.

When we make loneliness sinful or shameful, we push the broken one to an asceticism, which even God Himself does not require. (13)

 

References:

(1) As an aside, I seem to hear this counsel applied more often to women than to men.  It seems that most people are willing to concede that men need to be married, but women can survive well enough alone. More sympathy appears to be given to single men than single women. Could be wrong though.  Let me know what you think.

(2) See ‘The 7 Myths of Working Mothers’ by Suzanne Venker, ‘The Feminist Mistake‘ by Mary Kassian, and ‘Home Alone America’ by Mary Eberstadt

(3) Eternal Mystery – What was the Purpose of Gender? – https://asimplefemininity.com/?p=272

(4) Maternal deprivation – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maternal_deprivation

(5) Romanian orphans subjected to deprivation must now deal with dysfunction -https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/romanian-orphans-subjected-to-deprivation-must-now-deal-with-disfunction/2014/01/30/a9dbea6c-5d13-11e3-be07-006c776266ed_story.html

(6) Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_II,_Holy_Roman_Emperor

In the language deprivation experiment young infants were raised without human interaction in an attempt to determine if there was a natural language that they might demonstrate once their voices matured. It is claimed he was seeking to discover what language would have been imparted unto Adam and Eve by God. In his Chronicles Salimbene wrote that Frederick bade “foster-mothers and nurses to suckle and bathe and wash the children, but in no ways to prattle or speak with them; for he would have learnt whether they would speak the Hebrew language (which had been the first), or Greek, or Latin, or Arabic, or perchance the tongue of their parents of whom they had been born. But he laboured in vain, for the children could not live without clappings of the hands, and gestures, and gladness of countenance, and blandishments.”

(7) Polar Bear Flip-Flop: People Hated, Then Loved These Photos. What Changed?- http://www.npr.org/sections/krulwich/2014/03/01/283993033/polar-bear-flip-flop-people-hated-then-loved-these-photos-what-changed

(8) Psalm 22:1, Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34

(9) Research: Loneliness increases risk of death – http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/17/health/loneliness-risk-death/

(10)Why You Should Treat Loneliness as a Chronic Illness – http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/loneliness-can-really-hurt-you/

(11) I Corinthians 7:26, 29

(12) I Corinthians 2:9

(13)  Buddha practiced severe asceticism before his enlightenment and recommended a non-ascetic middle way thereafter.[1] In Christianity, Francis of Assisi and his followers practiced extreme acts of asceticism.[2]

as·cet·i·cism
əˈsedəˌsizəm/

noun
noun: asceticism
1. severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.
2. exceedingly strict or severe in religious exercises or self-mortification

One comment on “God is not Enough?

  1. Margaret Song

    Thank you for stirring the pot. These are conversations the church needs to have.

Leave a reply