Break Out of Isolation
I bet some of you have taken those random quizzes you find on the internet. You know the one that is supposed to affirm that you are a real Chicagoan but secretly you get a 60% even though you have lived in Chicago all of your life. Or the quiz that tells you what kind of Disney character you are most like. These quizzes can be fun but people take them over and over again and then press the “share” button. There is something about wanting people to know who we are.
Male or female we all desire to connect. Social media has created a unique way of doing that, but it can also be an imitation of true connection that leaves us wanting more. What if the popular quiz on Facebook was titled, “How alone do you really feel?” What percentage would you score? Would it tell you that you are most like Tom Hanks character in Cast Away?
Elijah probably would have ranked pretty high as he was hiding alone in a cave though he wasn’t always cowering in fear. Quite the opposite. One commentary describes him as one of the most distinctive and diversely talented individuals in the Bible. He was a prophet, preacher, political reformer, and miracle worker all rolled into one. He had an undivided passion to see Israel worship the One true God and rid the people from their idolatry. Even the meaning of his name declared his mission, “Yahweh is my God.” So what caused this incredible leader to run into isolation?
Probably a lot of the same things that drive us there–thinking God has abandoned us, discouragement with our present circumstances, fear, disappointment. All of these things can drive us into a pretty dark place, but God doesn’t want us to stay there. Let’s learn how God brought Elijah out of his cave.
Loneliness is not due to the absence of people but to the lack of authentic connection with people. Do you agree? What are some obstacles in creating authentic connections with people?
Read 1 Kings 19:1-10
- Elijah traveled 100 miles to Beersheba and then stumbled for about 8 hours in a dry and rocky countryside. What caused him so desperately to seek to be alone?
- Have you experienced moments of isolation in your walk with God? Do you find any similarities with how Elijah was feeling or acting?
- God’s initial response was to ask Elijah a question, “What are you doing here Elijah?” Why do you think God chose to ask him this question?
Purpose: Learn how to break out of our isolation through intentional connections with people. Make a list of your close friends and people you interact with in your neighborhood, at work, and at church. Make a chart with 4 columns titled, “Close Friends, Neighborhood, Work, and Church.” Once you have finished writing, circle one person from each column. Try to make an intentional connection with those four people this week. It may look different for each person but it can be as simple as a hand written note, a cup of coffee, or an invitation to your home for dinner. Be ready to share next week about your experience.
Read Hebrews 10:23-25.
When we face a crisis we tend to hide from our greatest resource–our relationships. Do you remember a time someone encouraged you through their friendship? How did they help you persevere?
Read 1 Kings 19:11-18
Notice in these verses that Elijah didn’t find God in any of the awe-striking appearances. God spoke to him in a whisper and then asked him again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Sometimes we need to reassess who God has become to us. Sometimes our view of God has grown too small or too distant.
- Has your view of God ever wavered from the truth? When have you doubted His ability to rescue or provide?
- Read verse 18 again. How is the Lord helping Elijah here?
- Why is getting a “God perspective” important when we feel discouraged?
After Elijah’s encounter with God, God directed Elijah to go back. Elijah couldn’t stay in the cave; he had to make the difficult journey back through the desert. Don’t wait for someone to come to you or for your circumstance to change, make some deliberate steps to break out of the cave of isolation.
With which statement do you find yourself agreeing most?
- I feel alone and stuck in life and would love to connect more with others.
- I feel uncertain if I’m living in isolation but I can relate to Elijah’s experience.
- I feel connected but I can take intentional steps to further build authentic relationships.
If you have succumbed to the lie that you don’t matter that much to God or that He has abandoned you, pray with another group member for a fresh encounter with God that exposes you to His presence and His voice anew.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.