Of course, knowing that there is a remnant out there – somewhere – is not directly or immediately of help to you, child of God, if you are isolated and alone, far from the fellowship of other Christians. But a moment’s reflection will be very profitable to you. In the first place, this day and age, although as bad as it was in the days of Noah with regards to the sinfulness of men, is not as bad as his day with regards to the small number of souls who belong to Christ; and if Noah could be faithful, serving the Lord under such circumstances, then so can you – for the God of Noah is your God, no less than his! And in the second place, there were other times in history which were at least as bad as this one, with regards to the small number of the elect in any given place; times when the Lord’s people, even his ministers, felt so completely alone that they could hardly endure it; and yet the Lord sustained them through those times. And the Lord, who sustained them, will also sustain you! For He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). The God of Noah, the God of Abraham and Lot, the God of Elijah – He is the God of every true Christian!
The first thing to do, then, as we have seen, is to study the Scriptures. And when this is done, one finds so much for the encouragement of the believer in his loneliness.
And the second thing to do is to pray, very specifically. If you are in a small church, consisting of just a few members, pray specifically and earnestly for the growth of the church; for the salvation of others who would then be added to its numbers; and of course, be active in sowing the seed of the Gospel. And if you are in no local church, because there is none you can join in your locality, then pray for companions to share the pilgrim’s journey with you. Pray that the Lord would bring other believers across your path. Pray, even, that a local church could be established, in time, if the Lord wills.
But it may be that the Lord’s answer to these prayers will be a negative one. You may not live in a place where the Lord has “much people” (Acts 18:10). It may be your lot, in God’s providence, to be where there are very few, or no other, believers. If this is the case with you, then pray for grace to endure this trial, and to say from the heart, “The Lord gives me what is good for me, and withholds from me what I do not need.” The Lord knows what is best. He has placed you where you are, for this precise time in history. He always does right. There is a reason for what He has done. Humbly submit to His will for you.
Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), yet not one person outside of his immediate family was on that ark with him! He had preached faithfully, but none had ears to hear. Yet was Noah where the Lord wanted him to be? Certainly he was! It was the will of God for Noah to preach to that generation, even though they did not hear. And it may be the Lord’s will for you to be a lone voice, witnessing for Christ to those around you, yet never having the joy of seeing any soul converted. Not all are called to serve the Lord in times of great revival. Not all live to see the fruits of their seed-sowing. Throughout history there have been many believers who have toiled for their Lord and yet seen no fruit for their labours. Did they fail? No! Ezekiel was told by the Lord, even before he began to prophesy, that the people would not listen to him (Ezek. 3:1-11). He told him, “And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear” (v.11).
And the third thing to do, when burdened with loneliness, is to look to Christ. “The good man is perished out of the earth…. Therefore I will look unto the Lord” (Mic. 7:2,7). Yes, be encouraged by the examples of men who led lonely lives, in Scripture; yes, pray earnestly for the Lord, if it be His will, to provide you with companionship for this pilgrim journey; but above all, look to Christ! For as wonderful as it would be to have many fellow-believers with you, you have One with you who never leaves you, never forsakes you (Heb. 13:5), is with you always (Matt. 28:20), and is the “friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24): the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!
It was the Lord who upheld Noah, Abraham, Lot and Elijah; it was the Lord who gave them the strength to pass through this world as strangers and pilgrims, alone or almost alone, with the eye of faith fixed on Him who is invisible (Heb. 11:27), who was utterly real to them, and whose presence went with them at all times. Yes, it would be wonderful to be surrounded with a large company of the Lord’s saints; to go with a multitude to the house of God (Psa. 42:4). Who among the Lord’s people would not love that? But if, in the purposes of God, this is not one of the blessings you enjoy in this life, remember this: the Lord Jesus Christ is always with you.
Paul knew this truth, and so he could write from his prison cell, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me…. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (2 Tim. 3:16,17). You may be all alone, having no Christian companions with whom to share the trials of this pilgrim journey; but it was worse for Paul: he had them at one time, but then, out of fear for their lives, they forsook him! Better by far not to have had companions, than to experience the acute pain of watching your companions depart. Yet there is a “notwithstanding” there! “Notwithstanding”, writes Paul, “the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.” And so the Lord will do for all His people, in their loneliness: notwithstanding the lack of true Christian companionship, the Lord will stand with you, and strengthen you! He never leaves the believer.