• Shanley McConnell

Devotion: When The Simpliest Things in Life Expose Loneliness, and other thoughts

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"You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise you with joyful lips," Psalm 63v5.


Sometimes we feel alone, empty, fatigued. Hungry for life, love and company. We see the world and worry that our admiration for its natural splendor-----in the environment and its humanness-----is dissipating. We see discouragement arrive in the form of exhaustion, depression, competition and lonliness.


1st Samuel 1v18 tells the story of a woman named Hannah. Her husband's second wife was bearing childern for her husband. Hannah was barren. So berated, abandoned, lonely and distraught she couuld hardly eat.


Have you been there? Felt so upset (burdened by dashed hopes, rejection, ailing health, trauma) that not even things that once brought you sustainance or strength have retained their powers.


But God met Hannah. On their annual pilgrimage to Shiloh, Hannah knelt in the house of the Lord, "weeping bitterly," v10. Such a gift she promised to dedicate back to the Lord, in service to his people. So deep and extreme was her desire for a child that even the prophet thought she was drunk. Her husband's naivety and sister-wife's taunting left her in distress on the floor.


But when the prophet arrived and comforted her with the assurance that God had heard her prayers, she "went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad," v18.


How compelling it is to think about the power and authority of God. How prayer speaks not only to your spiritual life, but refreshes the physical well-being. Know that it is God's gift to renew our hunger and enthusiasm for things that matter so dearly: family, work, ministry, life, studies, etc.


♪ Crowns, Hillsong Worship | let there be light.



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"We care so much for you | We find joy in sharing with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives," 1st Thessalonians 2v8.


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It's the simplest things in life that expose loneliness.


My week was spent writing a series of short scenes; each one a sort of close-3rd monologue from four musicians. The reason? I was struggling to write poetry for the collection I'd been assigned to complete within the upcoming months.


It's a strange sort of loneliness when you sit at your desk and meet the blank page. Have you ever felt this? The disappointment, isolation and loneliness of approaching something on which so much of your career, joy and relationships rely only to find it uninspired or empty? I think these feelings filtered into my scenes; my characters began to consider perfection, performance and the art of 'collaboration' only to find that, in these things, they felt loneliest.


I think about loneliness a lot. How is it that we can be surrounded by precious memories (good friends, engaging projects) and still feel loneliness arrive at odd times?


God's understanding of this has no limit. I wonder about Jesus on the cross. How lonely he must have been in the moments leading to his death. How lonely he must've felt at times, surrounded by people who loved, but couldn't understand him. The loneliness of living on earth away from his Father in Heaven. Because of this, we know for certain that the divine understands. Psalm 147v3 considers his compassion in this. How


"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of stars; He calls them each by name [...] His understanding has no limit."


This is how he calls us to be. To empathise with those who struggle with the loneliness we all share. As Christians we have the comfort of the cross. Of Christ. Let us share this with open hearts and hands. As Paul, in Thessalonians writes, "let us find joy and companionship in sharing this gospel with those around us."


♪ Overcome | Elevation Church | There Is A Cloud



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Phhilippians 3: Forgetting what lies behind and reaching toward what lies ahead, I press on forward into the plans of God, v13-14.


When I was a little girl, my parents called me the one-track mind kid. I struggled to multi-task. Or, maybe it was simply that when an idea arrived, I chose not to acknowledge distraction. Kept my mind focused on the thoughts on hand.


I still struggle to multi-task sometimes.


As we grow older, I think many of us learn to consider multi-tasking a necessity. We practice transitions (back and forth) between projects. Multi-tasking can be a beautiful thing. It gives us the time, space and energy to accomplish many things in a shorter amount of time. It's also an important part of life. Learning to set aside one task and sit with distractions.


And interruptions can be valuable: the most treasured moments in a day. A spontaneous friend-visit. A walking home from the library catch-up. A random phone call from a member family. An email that needs immediate reply. All of these examples and many more; arriving at inconvenient times. Still, when we humble ourselves and allow these distractions to take priority over the things we believe will reward us, we miss out on some of the most precious exchanges.


We shouldn't let distractions stop us from following through with important deadlines and responsibilities. Sometimes we have to power down our phones, take time away and study on our own so that we can accomplish the tasks that people relying on us need finished.


Still, I think that part of what it means to move towards heaven is letting distractions transition with you. Take the projects at hand and turn them into a greater labor of committment. Or memories in which so many bookmarks have been slipped between pages.


God assigns us plans, divinely delegated things. Selflessly, Jesus laid down his life to redeem those who were afraid, aimlessly distracted and alone. Everything God called him to do, he did. "Accomplishing the work" he had been given to do, John 17v4.


How often along the way was he distracted? By crowds? By his disciples? He didn't tune out to all these things, but rather, tuned them in to his sacrifice, the reason for which he had come to earth.


Yes, there are requests and distractions we can and should say no to.


But this week let's watch and embrace interruption? Consider distraction not 'multi-task,' but an inspiration. Towards the will of God.


♪ Hope Is Precious | Justin Jarvis


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