I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin called Johnson Creek. My nearest friend was miles away in another “metropolis,” Helenville. The busy road I lived on didn’t allow the option of biking because my mother was concerned for my safety. With older siblings either out of the house or too cool to build forts and play Star Trek (yup, I’m a Trekkie), I was alone. I remember saying, “Man, if I just had someone to hang out with, I wouldn’t feel alone.”
Sadly, this feeling doesn’t always go away when we grow up. You can be in a crowded school and have this feeling. You can roll over and place your hand in the empty spot on your bed where your spouse now dearly departed or fighting overseas used to sleep.
I bet the thief on the cross next to Jesus felt that loneliness. He chose his life of sin, and he was going to die with no assurance of what comes next. We can easily feel like we’re living on our own lonely, sin-drenched island. But Jesus’ words to this thief give us great comfort: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). TODAY, not someday. Today Jesus is with you, dear reader. “Will be” isn’t a maybe; it’s a done deal. He is with us now, every day of our lives, always by our side, and will be with us when we reach paradise. Why? Because Jesus experienced the ultimate loneliness for us so we can be with God forever.