Fruits of Solitude
The Bible is full of stories of heroes of our faith who spent significant time in solitude, whether it was voluntarily chosen or thrust upon them by their circumstances. I’d like to highlight some of those people here and touch on both the causes of their solitude and what it produced in their lives.
Noah was given a task by God that contributed to solitude and, most likely, loneliness. Noah was directed to build an ark to prepare for a storm that he could not prove was coming. We can only imagine the judgment he must have endured from a people who had never before been rained upon. Rather than letting his faith be capsized in the sea of ridicule, Noah chose to trust God.
He let solitude produce in him a steadfast determination to obey and to carry out the task assigned to him. Some of the gifts of solitude in Noah’s life were learning to know and trust the voice of God and receiving the strength to persevere when others would have doubted and given in to the popular opinion of the day.
Joseph’s story is one of being unjustly accused and spending an undisclosed number of years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. These had to be lonely years for a young man who was ripped from his home, his people, and his family; yet in his solitude, Joseph never became bitter. He rejoiced in his trials, knowing that God is good and was always present with him. The empty room in Joseph’s life was a prison cell that served only to drive him closer to the heart of God.
We see that he refused to complain, he showed compassion for others, and he continued to speak the truth about God before men. We know by his dream interpretation that Joseph was in close communication with the Lord even in prison, and we see how he was rewarded by his eventual release and rise to power in Egypt. Joseph’s solitary season produced a greater trust and dependence on the Lord.
One of the greatest leaders of the early church, Paul wrote almost a third of the New Testament. He also spent more time in prison than perhaps any other person in the Bible. We don’t know exactly how many times he was imprisoned or the total time he spent captive, but one of his stints was a two year house arrest in Rome.
We see in the book of Philippians that this time of solitude in Paul’s life was not met with grumbling and complaining, but with joy. Out of this season of isolation came such powerful words as Rejoice in the Lord always , Do not be anxious about anything , and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Toward the end of his life, this disciple whom Jesus loved was exiled to the Island of Patmos, where many would assume his ministry influence would cease. As we know, the opposite was true. John encountered Jesus and received the revelation that now makes up the final book of the Bible. Some scholars estimate that John was on the lonely and desolate island for about eighteen months. His empty room became a place of encounter where he received a gift from which the entire body of Christ has benefited greatly.
There is something these people have in common, a kind of hallmark of those who walk consistently and faithfully with God for the long haul, people who come through testing with steadfastness and inner strength. They have learned through personal experience the value of solitude.
These are not people who used quietness to escape reality, but to enter into it in deeply profound ways. By embracing their barren seasons of isolation, their experiences in God’s presence empowered them, and renewed their hope and their vision of His purpose for their lives.
This blog is an excerpt from “Empty Rooms” a new book release from Justin Rizzo. Check it out below.