From the beginning of time, loneliness has been part of the human condition.
This universal experience of loneliness seems to be in opposition to the equally universal human desire to live in relationship — to love and be loved. But both may have the same roots: our loneliness reflects our inner awareness that we are still far from our final destiny of eternal union with God. Our deep interior longing for love is, in reality, the desire for God himself, the source of love.
God created us to love him and to find our way back home to him. He will never leave us wandering alone and lost in our search. Instead, God comes to us as Jesus Christ to meet us where we are and to draw us close.
Jesus experienced all that we do, including hunger, thirst, loneliness and even the pain of death. He offers us the fulfillment of all our desires if we just follow his divine plan, yet we so often turn away and blindly seek love apart from him.
This is beautifully illustrated in the biblical story of the woman at the well (John 4). This woman had just about everything stacked against her. As a woman, she is regarded as unworthy of notice by men. She is a Samaritan, a race rejected by the Jews.
She comes alone to the well at noon, although most women would have gathered in the cool morning to draw water. A Jewish man asks this rejected woman for help. God comes to her, lonely, tired, dusty, and thirsty, asking for water.
What a gift she is offered; to comfort God, to relieve his thirst. At first, she doesn’t understand why he is asking her.
We never do understand how much God thirsts for our friendship, our help, and our love. If only we knew, we would ask him for living water and all our own lonely, tired, dusty, thirsty days would be washed clean and renewed.
In their conversation, Jesus tells her that he knows all about her broken relationships with five husbands. He even knows that the man she lives with now is not her husband. It’s apparent that this woman has spent most of her life seeking love in all the wrong places, as so many of us do.
Despite her difficult past, Jesus chooses to offer her the living water of eternal life. Jesus reveals to her that he is the Messiah and that she, lonely and rejected, is invited to be part of the divine plan.
She believes him, and her response is immediate. She rushes to bring the good news to her people, no longer hiding from others, fearful of condemnation, but boldly declaring that she has met the Christ. By her witness, the villagers come to believe that Jesus is the savior of the world.
God has a plan and purpose for each of us. He knows your deepest secrets and biggest mistakes, and yet he loves you still.
He will fill up your loneliness and renew your life. He wants you to discover what true love is; he wants to teach you how precious your life is.
What can you do to comfort God, who suffered thirst, loneliness and death for you?
He is asking for your help and he longs for your love. Listen for his voice and do not fear: Jesus is calling you. Will you take his message to your world?
Nancy Murray is a Catholic catechist, retreat facilitator, blogger (www.CatholicEthics.blogspot.com) and attends Christ the King Church in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.