The Peril of Isolation

“Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:3-4).

These actions of Elijah seem strange at first glance, and out of character. He stood before kings with bold resolve, and faced down hundreds of hostile false prophets. Now he flees at the threats of the queen of Israel. Furthermore, he becomes more isolated, desiring to be all alone.

We all need “down” time, time to get away from it all. But Elijah seems to have spiraled down some, even asking God to take his life (v. 4). God, through an angel, meets some of his physical needs and reassures him that he is not all alone (v. 18). How did Elijah draw such drastic conclusions? We may not know the specific reasons, but he did withdraw and sought a quick escape from his calling.

God made us to fellowship with others. When people go through deep affliction, it’s natural to withdraw. But withdrawing from God’s people robs us of any true encouragement we might receive. Much of God’s encouragement comes through others (Galatians 6:2; Romans 15:2). God uses His people to lift our spirits, and expects us to return the favor to others who face trying situations.

Even though we might seek to avoid others, we should instead fellowship with others at church and in other venues. Here’s how to fight isolation:

1. Make a habit of meeting with God's people regularly:

“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).

God will use others to bless and encourage you. Also, when you seek to serve others, your own problems don’t seem too big anymore. It’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). God will lift you up as you lift others.

2. Limit alone time.
We can grow used to isolation and, before long, make a habit of it. We all know people who were dinged by some life event, and then withdrew from church, friends, and family. But we need to share our burdens with others, not withdraw from them.

3. Do not shun the efforts of others to help you.

In our self-sufficient generation, we think we can go it alone. But God designed our life to be lived in a community setting, where we draw strength from one another. When people reach out to help, don’t play the martyr and refuse help. Some of our closest friendships are formed in difficult times. May God grant us the wisdom and grace to share our life with others.

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