By the second chapter of Job’s story, we begin to notice that there is a pattern to the trials of Job. The pattern is like the tightening of a noose as the Devil’s onslaughts grow more and more personal, closer and closer, to Job’s heart. First, buildings and servants were attacked; then Job’s children were taken; next, his body was struck with disease; now his wife has been alienated from him. Soon his closest friends will unwittingly become tools of the Devil as they assault him with cold comfort and shallow theology. From this point on Job’s trials grow increasingly lonely and interior, because Satan is directly attacking his personal relationships.
The plain fact is, if you follow Jesus with serious intent, there will be times when you will find yourself absolutely alone, cut off from everyone. In spite of the unity and love that are ours in the Body of Christ, there are bound to come times when you have to stand utterly alone before God. Why is this? Because there are some traits of the heart, some spiritual qualities, that can only be acquired and perfected in solitude—and not in the comfortable solitude we call “time to ourselves” and of which we all crave a certain amount. No, I am referring to a grueling solitary confinement of real loneliness and desertion. There is just no way around it. Without tasting this experience, no Christian can become fully Christ-like. The Via Dolorosa, the path of the cross, must be walked alone. Like the dock before the very judgment-seat of God, this is a narrow place, wide enough for only one abreast. There is no marriage in Heaven, Jesus taught. We go through the pearly gates one by one.
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