"Do not hide Your face from me; do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation" (Psalm 27:9).
AS PERSONAL BEINGS, WE WERE CREATED FOR FELLOWSHIP BOTH WITH OUR CREATOR AND OTHER PERSONS, AND THE LOSS OF THAT FELLOWSHIP AS A RESULT OF SIN IS A MOST GRIEVOUS LOSS INDEED. When we lose the very thing we were made for, we suffer a void that can't be filled with any lesser fulfillment. There is no honest way to deny that we hurt. We've been cut off from a contact and communion that are essential to our nature.
Our need for deep, significant relationship with God and other personal beings is so profound that we ourselves do not fully understand it. We sense that we need to be connected in some way to other personal beings, including God, and we suffer pain when our connections fall short of happiness. But we find it hard to articulate the loneliness we feel. As finite creatures broken by sin, we hurt and we don't even have the ability to understand how deeply we hurt. Our need for personal relationship is deeper than we ourselves can fathom.
But our pain does not come from simply being alone. It comes from being left alone. Following the murder of his brother, Cain was to be sent into lonely lands to live by himself. As God pronounced his sentence, Cain cried: "Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me" (Genesis 4:14). Can any of us say we've never feared what Cain feared?
Having been created for personal relationship, there can be no greater agony than to know that we, like Cain, have lost this thing that is so essential to us. Because of our own choices, those whom we need to be connected to, especially God, have turned their backs to us -- and not without justification. We are not only alone; we are alone because we've been abandoned. And we've not only been abandoned; we've been abandoned because of our own misdeeds. Thus, it is the triple combination of loneliness, regret, and rejection that twists our hearts into such sorrowful shapes.
"Over the years I've come to realize that my greatest fear in life is a dread of a certain kind of solitude, of abandonment" (Francìne du Plessix Gray).