I t was one month to the day after my six-month-old daughter, Hope, had died of a rare metabolic disorder. Heading out alone on a business trip, I thought getting away and being busy might actually alleviate my grief. But instead, sadness traveled with me. That night in my hotel room, I desperately wanted someone to remember Hope with me.
I did what most people do when they feel lonely—I reached out to find someone to help make my loneliness go away. I punched my way through the numbers programmed on my cell phone, but no one answered. I didn't know how to connect with God in a way that would soothe my loneliness, so I finally cried myself to sleep.
Throughout the Old Testament, God promises Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and the Israelites he will be with them. He told Joshua, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5). While I've believed these promises are for me too, sometimes when I've read them, I've thought, Well, I was hoping for something better than that. God's presence seemed more like the consolation prize than the reward.
But when my friend Angela lost her husband, she told me, "It took me two years after Wes died before I was willing to say to Jesus, in the loneliness of my bed, 'I need you to make your presence known to me, to satisfy me.'" She admitted it was awkward to wait in silence for him, but it's been worth overcoming the awkwardness for her to experience God's friendship.
The trouble is, I'm rarely quiet or patient enough to wait for God to meet me. Perhaps what's more deeply true is that I really didn't fully believe being alone with Jesus—even when I'm lonely—would satisfy me.1