No matter how you feel, you are not alone.
There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts, For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Kings 19:9–10)
Our first military assignment was rich in deep relationships and community. We thrived as a family as we embraced living on a military installation. The close-knit neighborhood and sense of family in our chapel was an ideal introduction to military life. Then, everyone left. Our dearest friends and closest neighbors all moved away at the same time. I felt abandoned as if I were the only one who stayed behind.
Elijah, the Lonely Prophet
The food God fed Elijah gave him the strength to journey forty days and nights until he came to a cave at Mt. Horeb. God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” Elijah’s response was that he had worked hard for the Lord, but it did not matter because everyone else had forsaken God. He felt he was the only one left, so it made no sense to continue. Elijah was practicing selective memory. He was far from the only person left who served God. Read 1 Kings 18 and you will see one hundred prophets hidden (1 Kings 18:4), the people who seized the prophets of Baal and killed them (1 Kings 18:40), and seven thousand godly worshippers in Israel! No, Elijah was not the only one left.1
I certainly can see how Elijah felt alone. That first assignment threw me a curve-ball in that I, too, felt as if I were the only one left. I knew it was not true, but it took time to grieve the departure of so many dear friends. I remembered how it felt to be the new military wife in the community two years earlier. I determined to look for opportunities to welcome new neighbors and new spouses to my husband’s unit.
The fluidity of people coming and going let me see that I needed to be a productive part of a military community. The military tradition called the Hail and Farewell showed me the flow of time in being welcomed and in being welcoming. Whether in a formal setting or a family barbecue with your new unit, a Hail and Farewell introduces new members to the group as well as says goodbye to those leaving. So, when you are feeling down due to sad farewells, just look around and you will find someone who needs a warm hail. No matter how you feel, you are not alone.
How can you keep your witness for Christ bold and strong in the midst of a PCS move? What do Hebrews 13:5, Proverbs 18:1, Psalm 73:23, and Psalm 23:4 tell you about being or feeling alone?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, thank you for the promise never to leave or forsake me. May I always desire your presence and say: “But for me, it is good to be near God; I have made the LORD God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works” (Psalm 73:28). Amen.
1. John W. Olley, The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of Kings (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011), 179.
Photo: iraq by the U.S. Army. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.