Loneliness is hard. Everyone faces it at some point. We were made for God and for fellowship with him, and there is emptiness without him. We long for the day when we will be with him forever when we will finally see him face to face. But God never made us to be without human fellowship. He said at creation that it was “not good” for man to be alone. God is enough. All our desires and longings must be fulfilled by him only, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t create us to love one another and help one another.
What do you do when despite being satisfied with God and content with life, loneliness begins to fill you? You don’t want to become bitter. You want to be content and thankful, but inside you can’t get rid of that longing for people and fellowship.
First of all, when you are feeling lonely,
Don’t allow a bitter root of jealousy to grow
There is a tendency that I find inside myself to grow bitter and jealous when I’m feeling lonely. Loneliness is not sinful, but if you don’t watch out, it can produce something sinful. When you are lonely, it is so easy to just look around and assume everyone else has it so much more together than you, and that you are the only one. That is exactly what Satan wants. Satan loves to use loneliness to turn us from God. He wants us to feel alone and isolated. The Father of Lies want to tell us that no one loves us, no one cares, that we are alone, that we have to fight the impossible with no one else to help us along. He wants us to feel ALONE.
But we are never alone. It is comfort enough that God is there. It is surely comfort enough that the God of the universe loves us beyond our comprehension and will never leave us nor forsake us. But it is even more comforting that we will never be alone truly. God will always love us, but isn’t it awesome to have people around us who whole-hearted love us? We can’t always see them, so it often feels like they don’t exist. Although I can’t biblically prove that there will always be someone in the world who specifically loves you, I know there will always be someone else who loves Jesus. And the bible says that he who does not love his brother, cannot love Jesus.
“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” -1 John 4:20 (NASB)
But I pose my question once again: What do we do when we are feeling lonely, sometimes despite having people all around us? Here are some other ideas. This one is pretty much common knowledge, but we all need a reminder sometime:
Remember that you are not alone and will never be alone
I love the accounts in 1 and 2 Kings about Elijah and Elisha. Two in particular, are my favorite. The first is the one where Elijah is running away, with Jezebel plotting to kill him. The after miraculously providing food and water for him, the Lord tells him to stand on the mountain before him. First, there was a great wind, and then an earthquake, and then a fire, as the Lord passed by, but God was not in it the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Then came a gentle whisper, and behold, it was God! “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God asks. Elijah replies by telling God of all of the things Israel has done to profane his (God’s) name by worshiping Baal and all that stuff, and then tells him “I, only I am left to serve, you, and they seek my life, to take it away.” After giving him instruction the Lord gives this powerful promise to him “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
Isn’t that powerful? Elijah felt very alone at this moment. He thought that he was so alone, that he was the only one who served God, and not only did he feel like the only one, but he knew his enemies were pursuing him, to take his life away. He could not see those seven thousand men. I’m sure he was grateful for receiving Elisha as a replacement, but when God tells you that there are seven thousand people on your side, that is something powerful.
The second account is also powerful. The king of Aram had sent horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city where Elisha was.
“Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” -2 Kings 6:15-18 (NASB)
When an army of chariots is circling your city and you are crying out “Alas, what shall I do!”, remember the words of Elisha: “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them”. We can’t see who is with us. We cannot see the invisible battle. But we can rest assured: we are not alone.
The next thing is
Sow Godly Friendships
Like most things you sow, this does not reap immediate benefits. It is hard. But we were not made to live alone, we need a brother or a sister beside us. In my post Think on These Things, I mentioned that to help your “thought life” you need to stop spending time with people who gossip and start spending more time with godly people. Because who you hang out with is who you will become more like. Christ is our perfect example. But there are also godly people who are more mature than us that we look up to. I least they should be godly. Because you are going to become like the person you look up to. So be intentional about who you look up to and look around, not judging others, but seeing if they are someone who you want to become more like, see if they are exemplifying Christ in their lives.
Paul tells the Corinthians:
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” -1 Corinthians 11:1
He also tells the Galatians:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2
We were not meant to follow Christ alone. We are one part of the whole body of Christ here on earth. How can the body of Christ work with only one part? The eye cannot work alone. nor can the arm, or the ear. We need each other. We need each other for accountability, we need each other for the hard times, and we need each other for relationship or fellowship. What is important when examining our salvation in Christ? Our relationship with him. God is made of fellowship, and he has perfect fellowship within himself, within the Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit enjoy perfect fellowship with each other. We were made to have relationship and fellowship with each other, and more importantly with God.
So you probably get the point, we are made for relationship, etc., etc., but how do we sow godly relationships? This is where it gets hard. Because those true die-hard friends, who help you grow and always build you every time you see them are rare and few. To sow godly friendships,
There are a whole lot of things you can to do develop and seek out godly brothers and sisters in Christ who will be there for you, but of all things, as usual, the best and first thing to do is to pray. Prayer changes everything, and just the act of prayer changes you. For more on how prayer changes you other than you receiving what you pray for, see this post here on The Purpose of Prayer. Prayer literally changes everything. It is so important to pray.
“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” -Mathew 21:22
Get past the awkward silences
Ever been there? You’ve said hello to the new person at church, you talked for a little bit, and then…..it just sort of stopped….nobody could think of what to talk about next. Inside you’re thinking “Well this is an awkward silence…..whatever am I supposed to say next…..this is sort of embarrassing…..why did I try to talk to this person anyway……what should I say?” What do you do? Pretend it never happened! Just ignore the awkward silences because they happen to everyone. Try again. Keep going.
Once I was trying to get to know some people at church. There was a group of about 4-5 of some really sweet and kind young ladies, sort of in a circle, and I really wanted to get to know them. It was after church and they were standing in between the edge of the pews and the wall. No knowing what else to do, I just sort of stood there….you know…just kind of stood there waiting for I don’t know what. After a little bit, they saw me and one of them said “Oh, I’m so sorry, do you need to get through?” and they sort of moved aside so I could get through if I needed too. I could have stopped there and just walked past like they thought I was wanting to do and just have been like “That was embarrassing. Let’s not do that again.”. But instead, with courage I don’t think I could find right now, I said: “Oh, no, I don’t need to get through, I was just wanting to meet you guys.” So I introduced myself and I’m glad I did because they are some really sweet and kind sisters in Christ. One of them is now among my older sisters closest friends.
One of them said later that when I just sort of kept standing there and didn’t walk away, she was thinking “Yay! She’s being brave! I’m so glad!” She had wanted to meet me but wasn’t very outgoing, so she appreciated me “being brave”. People will appreciate you ignoring the awkward silences. You don’t have to be outgoing to reach out to people. Just get over those first parts of starting conversations. Then you can go on to the next important thing about sowing godly friendships.
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.” -Ecclesiastes 7:8
Talk about what’s important
A couple weeks ago, my friendships at my church just went to another level. Ever since my family started to go to the church we’re at now, two years ago, I have been praying for a close friend at my church. For a long time, I had sort of been friends with and knew pretty much everyone without really having anyone who I felt I was particular friends with. Nobody had ever initiated a conversation with me, except for the very first time we went to our church. Suddenly when God began working on my heart and stirring my heart for evangelism, I had something real to talk about. What had been on my heart the whole week, I couldn’t help but talk about and pretty soon my conversations at church began to have a whole new depth to them. When you are on fire for something, your conversations can’t stop at the usual “How are you” “Oh, I’m good!”. You must talk about what God has laid on your heart or not talk at all.
Well, it turns that when you have conversations that are on fire for the Lord with godly brothers or sisters, they come back excited to talk to you. So for the first in my memory, a friend at church came to me after service, excited to talk to me. And guess what she wanted to talk to me about? Something she was reading about in the book of Daniel! That is my favorite kind of subject to talk with people about. Now every time we meet at church, we talk about what we’ve been learning in the bible and sometimes we’ll do a little impromptu bible study! To me, it’s an answered prayer.
When you get straight to what’s important to talk about, you’ll find those godly friends will come back. Sometimes things don’t happen immediately.
“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” -Philippians 2:1-2
You’ve got to be patient
The best friendships are those that last forever. Those are the ones that stand through the hard times and the good, those are REAL friendships. I have one such friend and I think currently she is probably my closest friend. We sort of knew each other when we were really little, but as we’ve gotten older, our friendship just gets better. Last Christmas I sent her a Christmas card (not sure why I didn’t think of that sooner..) and she wrote back asking if we could be pen-pals. We don’t live that far away from each other, but we both have busy families, so it can be hard to get together very often. We had sort of talked about pen-palling before but had never really put the idea into action. We’ve now pen-palled for about a year, and I can’t tell you how much her letters build me up. Every time I see her I’m always so encouraged and built up.
She’s probably also reading this post. When I created this blog in February, I sent her the URL. Ever since then, she’s been my #1 supporter on this blog. She is so special to me and I really hope she reads this post!
But before I went on the side-track about how wonderful my God-given friend is, my point was, you’ve got to be patient. When you invest in godly friends, when you pray, and when you talk about what’s actually important, if you’re patient, it will pay off.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6:9 (NASB)
Sowing godly friendships is what you do so that you are don’t become seemingly alone in this hard world, but what can you do when loneliness just hits you and you are struggling to turn away from jealousy and bitterness? Well, it helps to know what you are turning to. Sometimes when we are lonely, we’ll tell ourselves that if we just work harder, it will go away; if we just overload ourselves with work and busyness, it will sort of cover up and hide the loneliness inside of us; maybe if we just do other stuff and occupy our brain with everything else we won’t have time to think about how lonely we are.
These things sound close. But while they are close, they are very wrong. They won’t work. Neither will the opposite. Indulging ourselves and being lazy won’t work either. So what will?
Looking around at what? At how lonely and depressing life is? No! At how much we have. Thanksgiving is the cure for jealousy. And the cure for loneliness? Looking around and finding people who are more lonely than you are. Be a friend to them who have no friends. We need friends to some extent here on earth, but we don’t depend on having them. We have Christ and that’s all we need.
Are you struggling to find joy? Look to Christ and seek to give others joy. Are you facing loneliness and depression? Make someones day by being a friend to them. There are some people who build us up and help us grow. These are our fellowship friendships. But there are other friendships that are mostly one way. We need to be friends to people even when we don’t necessarily want them as our friends in the way of looking up to them or being built up by them. You need a mix. You cannot live for Christ without pouring out Christ’s love on those who need it, but you also need to have people who are there for you and who will strengthen you and bear your burdens.
When you look around at the lonely, dejected people who are just waiting for someone who cares, your longing for friendship and companionship will be replaced with a much greater and stronger longing: the longing to be Christ to the least of these. If you think about it, our relationship with God is one-sided. God pours out his infinite love on us, and we give a tiny bit of finite worship meanwhile living almost just as we did before. I’m so glad God is not only able to use such broken things as us but does. He calls us to be to the least of these what he is to us. He calls us to show them his infinite love. This is an impossible calling! We cannot do it without him. We are more than completely unable. But he is able. He can do the impossible.
So when you are lonely, don’t look to yourself. There is no hope there, no grounds for boasting found there. We are just empty sinners in a broken and fallen world. But when we look around there is so much to be grateful for, so much we’ve been given and so much we can give. So look around. If you go to school or work, look for the person who is lonely and withdrawn, and show them what God has shown you: show them that someone cares. Show them that someone loves them, and point them to God.
“The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” -Romans 13:12
Thank you for reading this post and I hope it is an encouragement for everyone who is struggling with loneliness and a reminder to face the battle and share God’s love with the world. If you struggle with seeing Christ as the fulfillment of all your desires and longings read this post. I also have a post on The Least of These and a post on Proclaiming the Glorious News of Jesus Christ, so you can check those out if you haven’t read them yet or are new to my blog. I also love this post I found by Girl Defined that lists 15 compelling reasons to be grateful to God.
If you think someone who read your blog needs to hear this, do not hesitate to reblog this. To reblog this post, click the title of the post to get out of Reader and to my actual blog, scroll down, and click reblog.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV)
“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,'” -Hebrews 13:5 (NASB)
“The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” -Psalm 138:8 (NASB)
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6 (NASB)
* All scripture quotations are from the NASB translation unless otherwise noted.