I’ve been watching the PBS special on country music by Ken Burns. It is a fascinating series (but also a sad commentary on society, but that’s a discussion for another day). On the episode detailing Hank Williams, they played the song, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. I started singing along and subsequently sang the song for several days in a row. The song’s melody and words are very morose and do not provide any hope or silver lining. In fact, after singing this song for a few days, I started feeling so sad and lonely that I thought I could cry too.
I began to think about being lonely, and what a horrible feeling that is. I thought about how sometimes I can feel lonely in a crowd, even a crowd of Christians. I thought about how I can get lonely living far away from my best girlfriends. When you feel alone, you feel like you have no one to talk to, no one who listens, no one to help you. Loneliness can feel like a hunger or thirst that is difficult to satisfy. You can become hyper-critical of others, and no one can live up to the perfection you have in your mind. Loneliness is a bad dream, but the only thing is that you cannot wake up, and you do not see the light of day. What a sad, depressing state.
Before letting loneliness overtake me, I started singing a new song, “Where No One Stands Alone,” by Mosie Lister. This is also one of those deep, soulful songs, but it has a completely different focus— it has hope.
Psalm 102 is one of those Psalms of David that we can vividly see his distress, loneliness, and despair. Like the Hank Williams song, David compares himself to nature— a desert owl and a lonely sparrow. Like the song by Lister, David cries, “don’t turn your face away from me”. David had many lonely times in his life.
I thought about other people in the Bible who may have felt lonely. I thought of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:9-18, deserted by Demas, now only with Luke. I also thought of Jesus— the probable loneliness of his childhood, living among such sin, and of course the utter loneliness of the cross.
Isaiah 53:5 says, “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
But like so often in Psalm 102, David turns from introspection to praise, and then from praise to hope. He stops looking at his own situation and focuses on God instead. David’s cure for loneliness is to place emphasis on God and praise Him through it all. David praised God for His eternity (Psalm 102:12), His creation (Psalm 102:25), and for His listening ear (Psalm 102:17). By the end of the Psalm, you almost forget the loneliness and despair that he spoke of in the beginning. David is looking forward with hope, saying that the children of God’s servants will continue (Psalm 102:28), and that God will have mercy on Zion (Psalm 102:13).
For us, when we have those inevitable days of being down, we need to remember David’s example and turn from self-pity and sadness and focus on God. Spend time in His word, in His praise, and in His nature, and always remember that with God on our side, no one ever stands alone.