Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13, Matthew 4:1-11, Romans 8:16-21
I enjoy being alone. If I’m honest, I should go ahead and admit that it’s actually one of my favorite things to do. After a busy weekend or a house full of activity, I long for a quiet space, large window, soft blanket, and a cup of hot goodness. This is my happy place, and I could stay there for what seems like forever. I am especially prone to long for my alone time when my outward circumstances weigh heavily on my brain and my heart longs for an escape.
I often joke that I just want to sleep it—whatever “it” may be—off. In my ideal world, when things are not going my way, when suffering comes and danger knocks on my door, I simply want to retreat, disappear, and not return until all is well again. And I’d prefer to do this alone.
Though being alone provides a much-needed space to quiet the noise and refocus my thoughts, something dangerous can happen when I retreat to my happy place in order to avoid the discomforts of my reality. I create an open space for fear to grow, an inviting environment for lies to build and pain to settle in. It becomes easy to lose sight of truth, and I inevitably pull further and further away from Christ.
I know that it is during these times especially that I need to pray and intentionally focus my attention on God’s Word. But can I be honest? In the midst of suffering, this becomes harder and harder to do alone.
It is during these exact times that I am grateful for my community—friends who will not sit back and watch me sink, but instead will selflessly show up at my door and sit with me. Sometimes they come carrying a load of their own, and our prayers for each become what we both need in order to stand. Whether I want to admit it or not, it is the presence and prayers of others that help keep me secure.
There is danger in suffering alone. But Christ knew this about us; therefore, He has called us to care for, love, and support those around us regardless of our own personal discomforts. He uses our pain, our circumstances, and stories to grow us in both love for Him and for His kingdom. Paul said it this way to the Thessalonians:
“So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith.”
- 1 Thessalonians 3:7
Clearly, Paul does not avoid the topic of suffering. He knows it all too well. However, he also knows that his ability to love, encourage, and pray for the people around him is directly connected to his dependence on Christ.
When relying on our personal strength to stand, we will surely fall. However, Christ calls us to trust in Him in all circumstances. It is only the outpouring of His love that strengthens us to stand, and encourage those around us. Thanks be to God who knows us better than we know ourselves, and gave us the gift of community. “And may the Lord cause [us] to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
Wynter Pitts is the founder of For Girls Like You, a resource ministry for both tween girls and their parents. The mother of four girls herself, Wynter’s mission is to empower and equip women of all ages in becoming who God created them to be, and to support parents in raising strong Christ followers. She is the author of several books, including You’re God’s Girl Devotional and She Is Yours: Trusting God As You Raise the Girl He Gave You. Wynter, her husband Jonathan, and their daughters (ages 7-13) live in Dallas, Texas. Follow her on Instagram @forgirlslikeyou.