ATTENTION POSSIBLE VISITORS.
I NEED YOUR HELP. I AM INJURED, NEAR DEATH, AND TOO WEAK TO HIKE OUT OF HERE. I AM ALL ALONE, THIS IS NO JOKE. IN THE NAME OF GOD, PLEASE REMAIN TO SAVE ME. I AM OUT COLLECTING BERRIES CLOSE BY AND SHALL RETURN THIS EVENING. THANK YOU,
McCandless has an interesting life story. He had hiked into the Alaskan wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He hunted for food and foraged as well; he efficiently provided for himself so that he could live on his own. However, McCandless’s health deteriorated over several weeks and he soon died completely alone without anyone even knowing where he was located.
It was thought that McCandless had perished due to starvation. Through his writing, McCandless expressed physical weakness so debilitating he lacked the strength to stand. McCandless blamed the potato seeds he’d been eating so frequently.
The hyperlink above goes into details about a disease called lathyrism and how it is likely to have been the true cause of McCandless’s death. In short, there was a neurotoxin present in the potato seeds. McCandless’s lacking caloric intake as well as heavy physical exertion had driven the disease which takes form in paralysis.
Some people speculate that McCandless was an extremely arrogant person because he’d wanted to live outside of society. He desired invisibility; he wanted to disappear. He had abandoned wealth, human contact for the most part, and material possessions. It is a challenge that many of us can probably relate to. Sometimes the monotony of reality becomes too loud and the temptation to just “go ghost” can be alarmingly seductive.
I won’t make assumptions about McCandless and why he went on his solo expedition. Wanting to prove independence and self-reliance is natural. What I will comment on is the suffering that McCandless endured alone.
I feel a strange twisting of sadness in my chest that McCandless had truly begged for help, but there was no one around to rescue him or even to console him. Whether brimming with arrogance or not, McCandless was humbled and his writing showed the evidence of this.
He said, “In the name of God” which is a strenuous appeal for someone of McCandless’s conjecture. Those five words are significant in revealing a possible attitude change in McCandless. Facing mortality can do incredible things to a person.
The fellowship leader at my university, I’ll call him Pete Tyler, once mentioned that he knew a lot of people willing to listen about Jesus and Christianity. These people, of course, were all located in a hospital and were in the arms of suffering. Pete’s daughter was gravely ill which is why he was at the hospital, but God still used this horrid situation for good. Pete was able to witness to patients in the hospital. He prayed with them and talked to them.
McCandless may have been rebelling from society or conformity or whatever, but the point is that McCandless was rebelling against God like all of us do. McCandless may have wanted proof that he could live without other people’s interference or any of the materialistic things that support more convenient living. But what I see is a major transition into depression and terror when McCandless realized he actually needed someone’s help.
It’s very possible that McCandless just used the “in the name of God” statement in order to show the desperation of his situation. Whatever the motivation was for that clause, McCandless had to have been pondering his mortality in those last days.
I’m not trying to impress fear on you about dying alone. My message is that being alone is not right, and it has heavy costs. It’s not a bad thing to need other people. All of us have weaknesses, and disasters strike each of our lives sometimes with fatal blows. We rely on other people particularly when life becomes so painful.
When I say being alone is not right I don’t mean that you should be around people all of the time. That’s not good either. Privacy and quiet time for reflection, for rest, that is important. What I mean is the consistency of being alone. Purposefully avoiding relationships with people for whatever reason.
Maybe you avoid people because you just ended a very important friendship. Maybe you loathe the company of others because you actually hate yourself and you believe people are better off not knowing you. Maybe you’re full of shame which drives you away from others. Maybe it’s fear of rejection. Maybe it’s social anxiety. Maybe it’s impatience. Maybe it’s depression. Maybe it’s because you believe an awful lie like there’s no purpose in talking to others because they won’t understand you or they won’t like you. Maybe Satan’s little voice is saying you don’t need other people. You’re better than other people. Maybe you think everyone else is stupid.
No matter what…you’ll pay for the loneliness and it’s a gradual process. You’ll probably turn around one day and realize you don’t exactly…have any friends to speak of. When all your work is done and you finally have time for others, well, they might not be around anymore because you never made time for them.
The Bible regularly supports fellowship. It is critical. The only time I can think of a person purposefully leaving the company of others is to pray. Jesus would do that. He’d leave and go to a lonely place, but this isn’t entirely true. Jesus retired to a place that was lonely in the respect that there weren’t other people around him. But see, Jesus wasn’t actually by his lonesome. He was with his Father. That kind of solitude is imperative.
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6
Jesus said this in the context that we shouldn’t pray in front of others for the sake of their approval or to impress them. This is conceited.
The New Testament is filled with instances of the disciples acting together. Most of the time these men were not alone. We are not supposed to be alone on this Christian walk. God is always with us (Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:5). Angels too are always with us (Psalm 91:11-12). And the Holy Spirit is yet another companion (John 16:7).
Here are some Bible verses imploring our need for relationships and fellowship.
“For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? I wrote as I did, so that when I came I would not be distressed by those who should have made me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.” 2 Corinthians 2:2-4
Paul mentioned in the verse above that he needed those Corinthian believers because they made him glad. They gave him hope in a great way. Jesus saved these people, but Jesus used Paul to reach them.
Other believers are a constant source of hope, comfort, and strength. As Christians we are guaranteed a life of persecution and suffering (2 Timothy 2:3, 2 Timothy 3:12, 1 Peter 2:19), but our brothers and sisters are here for us. We need only open up to them. We need only love them.
“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:6
“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Proverbs 27:19
These two Proverbs are very important as they focus on friendship. The second Proverb includes people. Our relationships, our friends, indicate who we are as individuals. It reveals sin in our life or it reveals good things. Do you have friends that are hurting your walk with Christ? Do you have friends that encourage you and speak the truth? Be very careful with who you befriend. If you have toxic relationships in your life it will harm your walk with God. It’s inevitable.
You cannot serve two masters. You’ll love one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13). So it is with friendships. You cannot serve your friends, do what they want, and sin and also serve God. You are pulling in two directions and an identity crisis will soon crop up.
It is impossible to avoid relationships with unbelievers. It’s not a bad thing because this is a main way to reaching lost people. But at the same time, when Jesus stayed with all the sick and sinful, he himself did not succumb to their influence. Instead, Jesus influenced others. We should always strive to be like Christ, but we will always fail to be perfect.
Just ask for forgiveness. Don’t hold on to self-hatred, shame, depression, anger, or disappointment. God doesn’t want these things for us. He wants us to know we are loved and that Jesus took God’s wrath away from us. Let us rest with Jesus. There is nothing more to fear. It is finished.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Fellowship nurtures wisdom and support. Don’t take it lightly. Don’t keep to yourself. Don’t stay quiet. Silence is rich soil for depression to take root in. Speak. Be heard and go forth to meet others. We’re all just afraid of each other. It’s the truth. Even if you feel awkward, unhappy, or otherwise uncomfortable, just talk to others. Always speak to someone as if she was your best friend. Imagine she is your best friend.
That natural love, affection, kindness, and happiness will come out of you. Just love each other. We need each other. We’re not meant to die in isolation like Chris McCandless. We’re not supposed to be alone and to loathe each other.
God loves us too much for that.