One of the hardest emotions we experience is loneliness. What does the Bible say about loneliness and how to get free from it? Certain times of year exaggerate our loneliness if we’re suffering from it.
For example, today is Valentine’s Day 2020. I hope you are having a wonderful day and that you’re surrounded by loved ones and friends.
But I know some of you are not.
I imagine it’s also true that some of you, even surrounded by people, even married, may still be feeling terribly lonely.
That happens too.
This afternoon I will be going to see people in addiction recovery ministry. I am certain, one or more may tell me that they are feeling very alone. When you drastically alter your life as they, thankfully, are doing, when you try to leave the past behind, it can feel very lonely.
“How will I be someone new?” they are thinking. “Where will I find new friends and companions who are going after the same thing as me?”
Often it can seem like people around us are well-established in their circles of relationship and that those circles have existed for years. And sometimes they have.
Facebook and Instagram don’t help.
Have you ever seen so many perfect lives in so many cheerful photos? Granted, sometimes people post their troubles and ask for prayer, etc. But social media can rub salt into the loneliness wounds.
I remember someone once saying, and I wish I knew who it was in order to give them the credit, that “the problem with social media is that with it, you see everyone’s ‘onstage,’ while you know, only too well, your ‘backstage.'”
In other words, you know your failures, flaws, and broken relationships. Your own current struggles. When you see what looks like others’ extraordinary successes, your pain gets magnified
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” – Mother Teresa
What Does Loneliness Feel Like?
There is a passage in the Bible that really captures what it feels like to be lonely:
“For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food…I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.”
These verses, 3-7, are from Psalm 102. It is often the case that we feel the loneliness down to the very core of ourselves – our heart – and physically too. As is stated in the Psalm, some may “forget to eat.” Others may overeat, just to get “filled,” but we can feel this state, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
So what does the Bible say about loneliness? How can you ease and erase the hurt?
I want to suggest three things. I know it can take a while to change circumstances. I know sometimes these states of mind are difficult to overcome, but here are three “steps in the right direction.
1. Change Perception
There are words of promise and kindness in the Bible, words about God’s heart towards us. These Bibles verses about loneliness speak of its healing. Reading them, dwelling on the words, can change your mind about being “all alone in the world.” I know sometimes we feel what we need most is human companionship. I’ll speak to that in a moment. But first God’s heart for us from these Bible verses:
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing…” Psalm 68:5-6
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Isaiah 49:15-16
“Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the LORD cares for me.” Psalm 27:10
These are only some Bible verses about loneliness and its cure, but they speak to the fact that you are NOT alone. God loves, cares, and sees who you are and what you are feeling. He has compassion.
“Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and has compassion on his afflicted ones.” Isaiah 49:13
The first step to feeling better is to challenge our thoughts about our aloneness, about our being forgotten.
2. Change Position
With loneliness often there is depression and with depression, there is a tendency to “come to a halt,” to stop getting up and doing things. If you are feeling terribly alone, it is so good to get up and move. Even straightening the house or apartment can cause you to feel better. But certainly, taking a walk, going to the store, checking out a book from the library – just doing something – will help to ease sadness and stagnation.
And if you can choose something creative, something you love, all the better.
3. Choose Participation
When we’re lonely, we often wait for someone else to break into our lives and rescue us. This is a brave step, but maybe the need is for you to reach out to someone lonelier than you are. A Bible verse that urges us to lift others up is Romans 12:13, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
So, think about it! Who could YOU call that might need cheering up, a visit? Who could you invite out for an activity? Where might you go to gather with some people? There is effort in this, but there is also potential reward.
I want to suggest, if you have not tried it, or have not been there in a while, to seek out a church. Choose to participate in a church.
They are not perfect places. There are imperfect people in them. But many times you can find company, compassion, friends who are trying to live life in a more decent and godly way.
What Can the Church Do to Help with Loneliness?
There are so many things that churches can do. It is so important for leaders and members to have their “eye out” for newcomers and people who look isolated and reach out to them. Not in a suffocating or controlling way, but in a way that is truly kind, sincere, and respectful.
People can be guided towards groups or individuals who would especially welcome them and help them find the belonging for which they hunger.
Finally, churches need to really think about prayer ministry – a time at the altar. Many churches have them. Others, for various reasons like, “there’s no time in the service, we have multiple services,” or “we don’t want anything inappropriate to happen,” sadly, avoid prayer times.
But, often, a lonely person will have gone for a while without human touch. An appropriate hand on the arm or shoulder, or hands connected with a beautiful, Spirit-filled prayer may make such a difference in a person’s life. And the prayer itself may change so much as we invite God in and His power into the person’s situation.
Churches need to be tremendous centers of healing for all people, including and especially, lonely ones.
If you would like prayer, please contact me through the website. Go to the contact page or click on the email icon at the bottom of the page.
If you are really struggling with loneliness and depression, reach out to a pastor, a counselor, a friend, someone who can come alongside you and help. This is not an unchangeable thing.
God bless you so much and give you peace.
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