September 2019 

Solitude vs. Isolation

I recently ran across this quote: “Solitude is a gift of God, but isolation is the tool of the devil.” (Geiger, Eric. How to Ruin Your Life and Starting Over When You Do. Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2018) I read it over a few times and finally wrote it down. I believe it’s worth exploring more.

In the beginning, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). He then created Eve. Ever since, there has been a social aspect to humanity. Generally, we like to be around other people. It is good for us to be around other people.

Having said that, there are also times when we simply want to be alone. Perhaps it is for peace and quiet. Perhaps it is to think. Perhaps you’re working on a project and just don’t want to be disturbed. Perhaps, at that moment, you simply don’t feel very social.

Scripture tells us that Jesus often sought times of solitude. Mark 1:35 tells us, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Luke 5:16 tells us, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” After the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus put the disciples in their boat, dismissed the crowd, and then went up on a mountainside alone to pray. Both on the Mount of Transfiguration and at Gethsemane, Jesus brought Peter, James and John along with him while he prayed in the distance.

Solitude is good. It is a gift from God. We treasure our solitude and rest. It is refreshing. It can be enlightening. It is helpful and productive. Solitude is good; but isolation is not. Isolation is a tool of the devil.

Think of Eve in the Garden when Satan came tempting. (In all fairness, we are told at the end of the account that Adam was right there with her when she ate the forbidden fruit—Genesis 3:6.) Think of how Lot and his two daughters were isolated from any community and it led them to sin (Genesis 19:30-38). Think of David, alone on his rooftop, gazing down on Bathsheba, while the other leaders of the nation had gone off to war (2 Samuel 11:1-5). His isolation led him to sin. Think of Judas, who isolated himself from the other disciples by his theft of funds. Isolation is the tool of the devil.

Time alone with your thoughts is good. Too much time alone, allows for the devil to tempt you, and it allows your sinful nature to go unbridled. There is something good about the accountability we have among each other. It is good to have that close friend who can tell you when you’ve gone too far or you’re acting in a ridiculous or self-destructive way.

We are at the end of the summer vacation cycle. Solitude and rest are gifts from God. We treasure them. But do not remove yourselves completely from the encouragement and accountability of others. Do not isolate yourself. That is one of the blessings of being a part of a congregational family. We support one another and hold each other accountable to God.

God’s peace be with you!

~ Pastor Ben Golisch

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. ~ Mark 10:45