Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’ — Ezekiel 11:16
The past two centuries have produced an unprecedented shrinking of time and distance. Journeys that once required days or weeks have now been reduced to hours with trains, automobiles and air travel—methods of transportation that would have seemed fantastical hundreds of years ago. Yet the availability of these means of travel has also introduced a new level of fragmentation.
Perhaps you’ve moved far from your parents. Perhaps your job requires you to travel to a different city every week. Perhaps your children or grandchildren live a long plane ride away from you. As a result, you sometimes feel isolated from your friends and family. Though you long for closeness with others, you often find only loneliness.
The Israelites had slavery to add to their dislocation anxiety. God scattered them among foreign nations, fulfilling his promise to send them into captivity if they forgot to keep him first and foremost in their lives. In strange lands, far from temple life and the comfort of communal worship, God promised to be their sanctuary in the midst of their isolation. The abiding presence of the Lord would go with the scattered people into foreign lands.
We, too, long to be hidden in the presence of God. Following Christ can be a lonely journey in a hostile world. Many of us sit in silent agony at meetings as colleagues ridicule some aspect of our faith. Many of us can relate to feelings of abiding isolation not too different from the Israelites’ alien existence as they groaned before God. They longed to return to their country from the foreign lands where everything seemed antagonistic to the faith they had earlier taken for granted.
God wants you to learn an important lesson from these seasons of loneliness: Your true citizenship is in heaven. When you feel like an outsider, remember that you are a citizen of heaven, and God promises to be your sanctuary in these foreign lands.
1. How do you react to feelings of loneliness or isolation in your life?
2. Remembering that God provides you with sanctuary isn’t always easy. During difficult times when you may not feel his presence, how can you practically remind yourself of this truth?
3. Spend some time praying for things that seem “far off”—family, friends, even a place you dearly miss. Ask the Lord to satisfy these longings in you. Ask him to ultimately satisfy you with himself.
Article taken from the NIV Women’s Devotional Bible.