I recently spoke on isolation, and I thought it was worth writing this blog. We have certainly found ourselves in different types of isolation. There are times that we are in isolation due to fear, lack of self-confidence, depression, rebellion, anger, hurt, or preparation. I know that is a long list, and very diverse reasons, but we can all relate to one or more of these reasons.
I want to share 3 examples of individuals that went into isolation from my favorite book, the Bible. We will look at Elijah, Jonah, and Jesus. Very different personalities, gifts, life purposes, but all in some way went through isolation. I want you as you read this to think about how you have faced isolation and realize the reasons why. I want you to be able to identify early on if this is a self-inflicted isolation, or one that is being used as preparation for something bigger. Now let's be honest with ourselves here. Don't say that all your isolation is because of growth, I don't believe that for a moment. I believe that there are very strategic times in your lives, but honestly speaking it doesn't happen often. It happened once in Jesus’ life, so just be honest with yourself.
As we begin to look at the three examples you find that there are different reasons that each of them went into isolation. There are consequences that happen if you stay in that condition. Keep your mind open and let's explore why we face isolation and how to get out of it when we are there. Recently we have been forced into fear through media, and other means with this pandemic. It has unleased fear like never before in the lives of people, and they have isolated themselves. After being forced into a shutdown to help manage the pandemic, people found this very different and hard to handle. Once the shutdowns were lifted, and people were moving around again, there were those that remained in isolation. This was due to fear. They didn't want to go out of their homes, rooms, etc. Because they didn't want to experience COVID. So, this fear has caused some people to isolate out of fear. Then there are those that have suffered great loss during this time, so a combination of fear, and emotional pain, causes them not to want to re-enter in the same manner as others. These are reasonable reasons; however, they have become a paralyzing force that is now hindering some lives.
From the foundation of the world, God designed everything to be relational. When we find ourselves in isolation we are operating outside of God's divine order. When you sidestep this order then you grant legal access to spiritual opposition. Which I will explain as we look at each example in more depth. One of my favorite scriptures and actually is the scripture that I have based my business on, is Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor; if either of them falls down, one can help the other up but pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves a cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Indeed, we need one another, and in times of isolation we lack the support of others, and it can be very dangerous. I solation causes us to focus on the negative, when a lamb is isolated from the sheep, it is so the wolf can eat them. So, when the enemy comes in and causes isolation in our lives, we must be very cautious. We must understand that it isn't for our good.
The story of Elijah is in 1Kings 18:16-46 and specifically outlines his isolation in 1 Kings 19. I recommend you read the entire account for full understanding, but I will do my best to paraphrase here. Elijah, a prophet of God, wanted to prove to Israel that they were worshipping false gods, so he asked for all the prophets of Baal to come and cry out to their god and ask for fire to fall from heaven. He would do the same and the god that responded would be the living true God. As you read the story you see that this went on, for a long while and then Elijah added water to the alter and called on the God of Israel to show himself in fire, and the alter burned up. So, all the people bowed to God, and Elijah had all the prophets of Baal killed. Ahab the King at this time went back to tell his wife about the amazing thing that happened and how Elijah truly is the true prophet, and that the God of Israel would be their God. Well, Jezebel his wife, was upset. So, we put a contract out on Elijah's life, and here is where we see him go into isolation. After all the amazing things God did using Elijah as a mouthpiece, this part of the story always amazes me.
We find that when Jezebel made it known to Elijah that there was a contract on his life, a deep fear came upon him which drove him into isolation. Have you ever experienced an amazing situation in your life, a great blessing, a new promotion, a new baby, a new house, and then someone close to you tells you that they think you will fail in some way, and you immediately feel a lack of confidence? I think this happens more frequently than we would like to admit, but it does happen. This drove him into isolation. This fear that came upon him, he found himself in a state of depression and we know this because it says he wanted to die. This all drove him further into isolation. This is what isolation will do to you, it will cause you to reflect on the negative and not see the positive, it will have you replaying what people said over and over in your mind. It will cause you to think that you’re a problem, instead of the situation being the problem. If God could send fire down from heaven to disprove all the false prophets, wouldn't he save Elijah's life from this woman who was threatening him? It doesn't make sense that he would be so fearful but that is exactly what happened, and that fear drove him to a place of Isolation. The Bible reminds me that God didn't give us a spirit of fear but power love and a sound mind. Isn't it interesting that in this scripture it talks about the spirit of fear, but also having a sound mind? I believe that is because the spirit of fear will cause anxiety, depression, and really cause a mental anguish.
As we turn to look at the story of Jonah, it can be found in the book of Jonah starting with the first chapter, you see that God is telling him to go to Nineveh. He wanted Jonah to share that God was going to bring judgement, so they needed to repent from their wicked ways. Well Jonah had no desire to do that, because the people in that area were cruel, and mean. They tortured and killed people and committed horrible acts. So out of rebellion Jonah decided that was just too much, and he wasn't comfortable doing that, and packed up and went the opposite direction. Jonah went into isolation because of the rebellion, and unforgiveness in his heart. He was okay being obedient if it went along with his plan but when asked to do something out of his comfort zone he rebelled. He didn't feel like the people of Nineveh deserved to have God's mercy. He didn't want to tell them to repent, he didn't want to associate with them. When we allow our emotions to dictate our behavior, we will find ourselves in a state of isolation. We must always be self-aware and manage our emotions, so they don't manage us. Rebellion and unforgiveness can isolate you from people. It can cause you to put yourself, in a situation where you start to find the worst in people just to keep yourself away from them. This is a heart condition that you must examine and understand about yourself.
The great thing about both stories, is that God didn't allow them to stay in isolation or allow their heart condition to stay corrupt. He dealt with each of them in different ways but showed them where they were at in their heart that was driving them to this place of isolation. You must have people around you that will show you the blind spots, that will help you to acknowledge where you need help and support. Our hearts were meant to be relational, so we need to walk through life with strong, healthy relationship.
The last example is Jesus. During his life, he knew he was here as the Messiah, but he had to go through the same processes we go through. As it was time to start his ministry, he was sent into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tested. This was the testing that would launch him into His ministry. There are times in our lives that we will go through a process where we seem to be isolated even if it isn't physically from people. Those times are an indication of a next level being opened to us. The difference is that during this particular season you will find that you're prepared for it. It's not the same isolation that you feel when you are not connecting to people. You find that you can provide the right answers and speak the right language and know that it is a temporary condition. You are not expecting to stay in this situation, but that it is a launching point for you. The former two are states you want to stay in.
The tone and feeling you will have with this type of isolation will feel very different. It won't be easy, but there will be hope during it, where the other two isolations lack hope at all levels. I hope that after reading this you can look introspectively to determine what type of isolation you are in and be honest about how you got there. Once you do that, you will be able to address the underlying issue that is causing you to move into isolation. Think seriously about this, has it been FEAR, DEPRESSION, REBELLION to drive you into a place of isolation?
When you are in this type of isolation, you will not allow anyone to help you determine who's voice you are hearing or what you are listening to. Isolation due to FEAR can cause a person to go into deep depression, guilt, shame, and various emotions. Controlling your emotions may be difficult to manage properly on our own. A support system is critical. One that will speak truth, compassion, love and understanding into your life. Your friend group, outside support system will be what helps you to operate effectively and get out of the isolation so make sure you have the right people around you. Sometimes it is necessary to hire a counselor or coach to walk through these situations with you. Ultimately you are NOT alone. Don't allow yourself to believe that you are better alone. Remember two are better than one.