Time to read: 5 mins

Loneliness is tough.

Human beings were created to be sociable (Genesis 2:18) and therefore feeling like you are completely isolated is one of the toughest things to deal with.

The Bible talks about loneliness and there is a lot of comfort in it for lonely Christians. I am very aware that it is easy to glibly say this, but that it is something else entirely to see it, feel it and walk it out day after day. I don’t want to belittle how you might be feeling. Nor do I want to imply that you should simply study the Bible, focus more on the Lord Jesus, pray and pull yourself together. I know it’s not that easy.

However, that does not take away from the fact that the Bible does have encouraging things to say, and hopefully the few things we will touch on in the rest of the article will be a helpful starting point as you meditate on them.

What is loneliness?

Before going any further, we need to make sure we understand what we are talking about. Loneliness is very different from solitude. We all spend time on our own every now and then and enjoy it. You can be happy on your own, and lonely in a crowd.

True loneliness is feeling like you have no connection with other human beings. Having no-one who cares about you, no-one to talk to, no-one to laugh with, no-one to cry with. Feeling like you move through life as an invisible person, isolated from everyone else. Loneliness makes us anxious. It’s one of those gnawing aches within us.

Lots of things can cause us to feel lonely. Situations where you don’t fit in – not being part of the in crowd. Feeling like you are different. Being single when those around you are in relationships. Maybe a loved one has died. Perhaps you are worried about something and feel like no-one understands you. Other things can make loneliness worse, such as depression, illness and the pressures of daily life.

There are many factors in loneliness. You don’t need me to list them all, you know your own situation and it is unique to you.

Let’s turn to the Bible.

David’s Loneliness

It can be helpful to realise that others have felt the same (and of course still do). Let’s look at King David. Even that great and godly man was at times very lonely. Listen to what he says in Psalm 102.

For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.
My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.
By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.
I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.
I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.

Psalm 102:3-7

This is powerful descriptive language. Does it resonate with you? David though goes on to tell us where he finds comfort when he feels like this.

But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.
Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.

Psalm 102:12-13

What he writes about his feelings is a prayer, and David shows that in his lonely situation his hope was in the Lord and it is to him that he turns.

This is an important lesson. If you feel lonely, take it to the Lord in prayer. Tell your God all about it. Why? Because he cares about you. If you are one of his people, he loves you more than you can ever imagine. Peter tells us, ‘casting all you care upon him for he careth for you’ (1 Peter 5:7).

Although Jesus is teaching a different lesson in John 15, he makes it clear that he is the friend of his people ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends‘ (John 15:13). Proverbs hints at this as well, pointing foward to the Lord Jesus with the words ‘there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother’ (Proverbs 18:24).

Jesus’s Loneliness

This leads us to another consideration. When Jesus came as a man and lived on earth, he was truly human just like us, and he felt the full range of human emotions. ‘For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are…’ (Hebrews 5:12). When we struggle with difficult circumstances, such as loneliness, we can take them to Jesus knowing that he understands better than any other human being can. This is not just because he knows everything that we think or feel in a way that no one else does, but because he has felt the same.

Has anyone ever been more lonely than the Lord Jesus when he was on the cross? Even his Father forsook him. This is a great mystery, but he was utterly alone. And don’t forget, he endured this for you. Surely that is proof of how much he loves you?

Not truly alone

Perhaps you’re tempted to think that God cannot love you because if he did he wouldn’t have given you this difficult pathway to walk out. Think about what Paul tells us, ‘…be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee‘ (Hebrews 13:5).

Jesus was willing to die the cruellest death that man could devise to save you. Can you really doubt that he will withhold any good thing from you? He has promised that life will be hard at times, but he has also promised never to leave us. Even in our darkest moments, we can be certain that ‘all things work together for good to them that love God‘ (Romans 8:28), and we can be certain that even in our loneliness Jesus is still with us.

Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and seek to draw near to him in your loneliness. Tell him about it, he understands and will strengthen you to keep walking, bringing you safely through.

Footprints in the Sand

As a final thought, thinking about this topic, my mind went to that poem Footprints in the Sand.

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you promised me that if I followed you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

[A00101 – 24/01/2019]

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