In this week’s Torah Portion we read of Moses’ despair and loneliness:
He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on Your servant? What have I done to displease You that You put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? … I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how You are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favour in Your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” (Numbers 11:11-15)
This may have been the lowest point in Moses’ life. After all he had gone through, he felt the people had rejected his leadership and just brought great grief on him.
Yehovah’s response was apparently not one of sympathy, nor did he agree to Moses’ request to kill him. Instead Yehovah tells him to appoint seventy elders who would share the burden of leadership.
It would seem fair to infer from this response that Moses was as least in part feeling very much alone in his role and leadership. He had come to a place where his faith, his deep intimacy with HaShem had lead to great loneliness and while he clearly knew HaShem was with him, it appears he had a serious lack of companionship in his role.
Moses is not the only person in Tanakh who felt so alone that he prayed to die.
So did Elijah when Jezebel issued a warrant for his arrest and death after his confrontation with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 19:4).
So did Jeremiah when the people repeatedly failed to heed his warnings (Jer. 20:14-18).
So did Jonah when God forgave the people of Nineveh, seemingly making nonsense of his warning that in forty days the city would be destroyed (Jon. 4:1-3).
All these prophets felt alone and unheard. They carried a heavy burden of solitude. Which should lead us to recognize a similar narrative is reflected in the life of the greatest prophet, Yeshua.
Yeshua was a man and prophet who also spent a lot of time alone and in communion with Yehovah. Yet he also appointed his ‘elders’; his 12 apostles to share the burden with. There is no doubt Yeshua saw much in these 12 men of faith, yet they struggled to see the world as he did; to sense the despair that he did; and grief for his people and planet as he did.
Yeshua wept with great despair over Yerusalem, the apple of God’s eye, the place of the Holy Hill of Zion, and the Temple of Yehovah.
“40 But he answered them, “I tell you that if they keep quiet, the stones will shout!”
41 When Yeshua had come closer and could see the city, he wept over it,
42 saying, “If you only knew today what is needed for shalom! But for now it is hidden from your sight.”
Yeshua clearly had great insight, even if he was not directly given foresight from Yehovah, he could see what the natural consequence of the current situation was.
Not only did Yeshua spend much of his earthly life before his crucifixion aware of how far humanity, for the most part, was from Yehovah, he knew what it meant to share everything and sacrifice everything for others. He had said before his life was offered and taken, that no greater love hath a man than to lay his life down for a friend.
What love, what faith, what strength! he displayed in willingly walking into Jerusalem and to being ‘poured out as a libation on the Holy Hill’ (Ps 2:6) (http://circumcisedheart.info/Christian%20site/Psalm%202%20verse%206%20commentary.pdf).
King David was clearly another great man of faith who spent much time feeling alone in his leadership as well. The Psalms share much on this:
“I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.” (Ps. 6:6)
“How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 13:1-2)
“Out of the depths I cry to You, Lord …” (Ps. 130:1)
Which naturally leads us to this Psalm:
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me so far from my cries of anguish?” (Ps. 22:2)
And to Yeshua quoting this in what was most likely his greatest moment of despair: “At three, he uttered a loud cry, “Elohi! Elohi! L’mah sh’vaktani?” (which means, “My God! My God! Why have you deserted me?”)” Mark 15:34; Matt 27:46. CJB
The loneliness of all these great prophets brought them into an unparalleled closeness to Yehovah.
Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God, the dome of the sky speaks the work of his hands. Every day it utters speech, every night it reveals knowledge. Without speech, without a word, without their voices being heard, their line goes out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world….”
A place of solitude can help us see the truth and the glory of God as described in Psalm 19.
A place of solitude, yes even a place of loneliness, can be a place where there is little to distract us, little to muffle the still small voice of Yehovah reaching out to us with His free gift more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey.
And where there is solitude, and silence, we are able to better listen and hear the words of our God. The very words that created this Universe.
So remember when you feel alone, especially when you feel your world is ignoring the Creator of the Universe, the God of Israel. The God of Mercy, Grace and yes Justice, remember that many great people of faith have walked this road before you and that it may well have helped them to develop a deeper relationship with God.
“Plumbing the depths, they reached the heights. They met God in the silence of the soul and felt themselves embraced. … It is when we feel most alone that we discover that we are not alone, “for You are with me.” – Rabbi Sacks
“Even if I pass through death-dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for you are with me; your rod and staff reassure me.” – Psalm 23:4
And remember that Yeshua, even in accepting that his closest companions would desert him in his hour of need still acknowledged that God was with him:
“Yeshua answered, “Now you do believe. But a time is coming — indeed it has come already — when you will be scattered, each one looking out for himself; and you will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone; because the Father is with me.” – John 16:31-33 CJB
And the secret to never being separated from the Father?
“…. The Father has not left me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” – John 8:29 NKJV