Of course, as I begin to receive various responses to my blogging about being a lonely SDA, or lonely Christian for that matter, God has chastised me gently. As others have indicated they, too feel somewhat abandoned, inhabiting congregations with whom they seem to share little, I recognized a scriptural pattern. And recognizing that pattern has humbled me some.  I almost hear God saying, “Who do you think you are, Elijah?”

Remember that story? The usually courageous Elijah, after a literal mountaintop experience, running for his life, and whining, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

God chastised Elijah, saying, “ Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down.”

It’s easy to lose sight of such things when we’re discouraged. And we may find ourselves in situations where no one we meet or talk with on a regular basis understands our concerns. But they are still out there–many feeling just as lonely.

Of course, God assures us that He will never forsake us. But sometimes we need a human ear to listen, a human voice to say, “I understand,” a human smile to warm us.

Anyway, it’s important to remember that there’s nothing new under the sun. It’s easy to look at the Bible characters and see them with little halos over their heads, to imagine that they always knew exactly what God’s will was, and that they never faltered. The actual stories we see, however, are of real flesh-and-blood human beings who struggle with lust, greed, fear, and doubts; sometimes falling.

In writing on the life of Jacob, I was taken by how different things can look from an ancient perspective. I hope you’ll forgive me quoting from the Preface of my book, but it expresses the thought I’m trying to get across well.

It’s difficult for us to realize how great a faith it took simply to believe in the God that today we take for granted. In those days great empires reigned in the name of their own gods, and thousands and hundreds of thousands of subjects of those empires worshiped those gods. But who was this El Shaddai that Jacob worshiped?

In the book Rachel comments concerning this disparity between the gods whose temples dominated cities and were worshiped by thousands, and El Shaddai, who is “the god of but one family of three sheep and goat herders, the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

For us the phrase, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” rings with authority and antiquity. For them it was “but one family of three sheep and goat herders.”

And we see this repeatedly throughout the Bible. Abraham and Isaac lie about their wives. Jacob, well, Jacob has lots of problems. David and Bathsheba. Solomon’s apostasy. Elijah’s fears. Nehemiah’s frustrations.

That’s part of what’ s so encouraging–and authentic–about the Bible. It’s full of stories of imperfect people, struggling to be true to God in the most difficult circumstances, whether surrounded by unbelievers, like Jacob, or surrounded by professed believers, like Nehemiah.

We all feel lonely sometimes. The key is to encourage those we can, and remain true to our faith.

Next time, I promise, about the contrasting errors of Traditionalists and Compassionates concerning the Bible.