In 1972 a Motown group known as The Temptations released a song entitled, Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone, that went to number one on the U.S. charts. The song is a mournful conversation between a young man and his mother as the young man sought to learn more about his father, who had gone to an early grave. The refrain after each series of questions from the young man was the mother’s reply, “Papa was a rollin’ stone, wherever he laid his hat was his home. And when he died, all he left us was alone.”
The last words of this refrain capture what is perhaps the most awful circumstance of human life. Most of us are social creatures. That is, we need the companionship of others in various forms. While all of us enjoy periods of solitude and quietness, very few of us are emotionally equipped to stand isolation. We desire and need interaction with other people. This is why God created Eve for Adam, because it was not good for the man to be alone (Gen. 2:18).
Our human companionships, from friends and family members, to our spouses, are an essential part of our existence. These relationships provide the means by which we are able to cope with the many ups and downs of life. They make our lives more enjoyable and full, and they enhance our ability to be productive members of society. Conversely, it is well-accepted by most that the absence of such relationships is often a contributor to disturbed and sometimes criminal behavior.
As important as these human relationships are, there is another relationship that is even more important. It is our relationship with our Father in heaven. Someone once said that we are all made with a God-shaped void in our hearts. If that void is left unfilled, or is filled with something other than God, the results are predictably bad. We see this played out before us daily in the lives of those who ignore the overtures of God’s word.
Sometimes, though, even Christians may feel that they are all alone in the world. The great prophet Elijah experienced this in the aftermath of his victory over the prophets of Baal in 1 Kgs. 18. When Jezebel threatened him, Elijah fled to Horeb, the mountain of God. When God spoke to him there, Elijah expressed his feeling of isolation (1 Kgs. 19:9-10). Elijah felt that he was the only faithful man in Israel, but God assured him that this was not the case. He thought he was all alone, but in addition to God being with him, there were still 7,000 in Israel who had not yet bowed to Baal (1 Kgs. 19:18).
Before our Lord left the earth, He made a significant promise to His disciples. In Mt. 28:18-20 He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
When we become Christians by obedience to the gospel, we are added to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col. 1:13-14). We are thus added to the body of Christ, and as long as we are faithful to Him, we are never again truly alone. This is because our Lord abides in us and we in Him. Paul understood this when he stood before evil kings and all his friends deserted him (2 Tim. 4:16-17). Even there, the Lord was with him and sustained him. The Lord promised to be with us always, until He takes us home to heaven. Therefore, we can take courage and not fear the uncertainties of life. We take courage because our Lord will never leave us alone.