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kevin-schmid-578103-unsplash.jpgGrocery carts were full to the brim as I whisked past shoppers quickly checking items off their lists.  Ham? Check. Cream cheese? Check. Potatoes and broccoli? Check. Fresh fruit for fruit salad? Check.  Juice for the kids? Check. Paper plates, napkins and cups? Check, check and check.

Everywhere I went this past week I could feel it in the air.  Social media posts reflected the same excitement. Store clerks handed receipts to customers with a cheery, “Have a happy Easter!” and last minute shoppers grabbed up soft furry bunnies at a 50% reduction.

I enjoyed breathing in the air of anticipation as I checked things off my own list of plans and preparations.  Then suddenly a deep sadness engulfed me as I thought of those who may not have family with which to share this holiday, or any other for that matter.  How must they feel in the midst of the flurry of activity, the gathering of generations, the sharing of traditions? Do they feel lost? Invisible? Left out?  Or simply resigned to their lot in life?

Sometimes the Holy Spirit has a way of pulling back the curtain and we see and feel with fresh eyes and emotions what we had not clearly recognized before.  I sat in the grocery store parking lot without starting up my car for several minutes deeply saddened by what must surely be some people’s pain. Without knowing their names, I prayed for those who would not be feasting with their families this Easter season, for those who are separated by either physical or emotional distance and for those who through whatever circumstances find themselves alone.

A deep sadness engulfed me as I thought of those who may not have family with which to share this holiday…Do they feel lost? Invisible? Left out? 

If you or anyone you know is suffering from being alone, my prayers the past few days have been specifically for you.  And as I have given thought and prayer to your situation, there are 3 specific scriptures the Lord has brought to my mind.  I share them with you here to offer encouragement and hope.

“God places the lonely in families.” (Psalm 68:6)  This is a truth I have witnessed for myself on several occasions.  God is the mastermind who intersects our lives and can provide just the right connections at just the right time.  I have written in a previous blog post about the elderly, childless couple who became surrogate grandparents for my sister and me when we were young.  I also wrote about the family who “adopted” my widowed mother and made her a part of their family when my husband’s job took us to Alaska and away from her for 3 years.  

Looking to God as our first source is always our wisest decision.  Trusting him to provide relationship gaps shows honor to the one who knows our deepest needs.  He promises to be a “father to the fatherless and a husband to the husbandless”. If you are lacking a primary relationship in your life, I encourage you to grow in intimacy with the Lord.  Spend time with Him and allow Him to expand your experience of all He is and can be in your life. I also challenge you to stretch your faith and believe that God will provide the human relationships you need, perhaps in a way you least expected.  Trust him that He sees all, knows all, and is looking out for your best interest.

“A man that has friends must show himself friendly.”  Proverbs 18:24 This seems like a no brainer but I have met people who complain of having no friends and yet never reach out or take an initiative to make connections with others.  I also know people who have created a beautiful “family” out of a community of friends. They serve and care for each other just as family members would, are committed in both sickness and health and regularly celebrate special occasions together.

Small groups, Bible studies and church community groups are a great way to bond and make friends.  Committing faithfully to one of these groups and spending a good amount of time together often results in a “family feel”.  Members will usually check up on each other, show concern in times of crisis and rejoice with you over your victories. They’re a wonderful way to “create family” if you are without one nearby.

Be the one to initiate a relationship.  If you don’t cook, invite someone out to eat.  If you’re not a good conversationalist ask them to go see a movie.  If your budget is tight, meet for coffee. Text. Call. Reach out in whatever way you choose.  But don’t just sit and feel sorry for yourself. Life is too short and there are too many people on this planet for you to be spending your life alone.  

“Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd.  Someone told him ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ He replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’”  Luke 8:19-21.   Jesus made this statement not to disrespect his earthly family, but rather to highlight the importance of spiritual connections which are eternal ones.  

Those who have made Jesus and following Him the central theme of their lives have an entirely different way of looking at this world.  Our values, lifestyles, priorities and passions are all greatly affected when we are deeply in love with the Lord. Because of this we sometimes will feel more connected to those with whom we share our faith than to those with whom we share a family of biological origin.  These spiritual ties sometimes provide those who feel like parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters to us.

Paul the Apostle referred to Timothy as his “true son in the gospel”, so great was his affection for his younger protégé.  The Titus 2 mandate for “the older women to teach the younger women” has produced many mother/daughter relationships and formed deep and lasting bonds.  

We sometimes will feel more connected to those with whom we share our faith than to those with whom we share a family of biological origin.

Since our spirits are the deepest essence of who we are, our spiritual connections and ties have great significance and worth.  I have had the privilege of mentoring many younger women in the faith and in a certain way will always feel connected to each of them as a “spiritual daughter” of mine.  Growing together in faith is a great way to establish deep relationships and building a spiritual family is not only possible, it’s also scriptural.

When Christ is reunited with His Bride, the Church, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be the Family Feast to end all feasts!  No one will be left out. No one will be missing. ALL of those in the family of God will be together for eternity. Preparations are already being made.  For you. For me. For whosoever will come to Him and believe. And all of the feasting we have done here on earth will simply be a foretaste of what that will be!