"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."
John 14:18 (NIV)
When you travel north from Gallup, New Mexico, toward the Navajo Nation, you cannot help but notice just how empty the terrain is. It is broad and flat and arid. You also can’t help but feel very much alone.
There are many times in our crowded lives that we seek solitude. Solitude is a choice. Alone is often forced upon us. To be alone is to realize that the comforting structures of family and community are not there. Even God realized, at the very beginning, that being alone is not good for His human creatures (Genesis 2:18).
The members of Native communities know all about being alone, having been uprooted, relocated, and resettled in remote places that are not natural for them. They struggle with an identity and an existence marked by aloneness, and the attempts to manage their loneliness are predictable: a tattered path of broken families, marriages, and communities where alone presses in like an unbearable weight.
The story of Jesus is how the Son of God Himself submitted to the pain of being alone for us. While hanging on the cross, Jesus was not tormented by his pain as much as He was crying out against being so alone, with no one to be near Him. His Father left Him, leaving Him to cry into the darkness to the God who had only forsaken Him. This is the ultimate burden of aloneness that He bore for us. But Jesus is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia and Amen!
On this, the Day of Resurrection, Jesus first sought out people to show them He was alive, of course, but also to show us that our aloneness was now defeated and gone forever. We now go to the lonely parts of the country to bring the Good News that God came to our earth and suffered the punishment of being alone so that, in Jesus and in His Church, we can find family and community that dispels all of our aloneness forever.
Risen Savior, You took on the dark hours of being alone for me. As I celebrate your resurrection this Easter day, I trust Your Word that You will never leave me nor forsake me. In your holy name, Amen.