Have you ever been lonely? Maybe you’re single, like I am, and your heart yearns for someone to share your life with. Or maybe you are married and know in your head you should be happy, but feel disconnected from your spouse. No matter where we are in life, everyone feels the dreaded thorn called loneliness at one time or another.
For me, loneliness is my Achilles heel, my Paul-like thorn in the side. Even as a child I felt isolated and different, and then as a teenager I left behind all my friends when I moved to Europe. Now, as a young adult, the pangs of loneliness continue to remind me that the one thing I don’t have is a soul mate. The last five years have been a major struggle against depression. I’ve felt lost, alone, and unwanted even by those I would call friends. So believe me when I say I know a thing or two about loneliness. And I hate it.
The thing about loneliness is that it’s not something we can categorize simply. For some, it may be the idol of marriage in their lives that needs to be torn down. For others it may be justified because they literally have no one to turn to, including friends and family. But for others, like me, it may not be so black and white. There are so many reactions to this type of loneness. Those who have been through it, sympathize but don’t know how to comfort. Those who are happily married try to pair you up with someone. And those who have never felt it say, “You have God. You shouldn’t be lonely.” As a result, we struggle to not think about it and push it away, sometimes wondering if it’s a sin or if it’s alright to feel this way.
Honestly, I still don’t have the answer to that. But from my many years of study in God’s Word, I tend to lean toward the latter. As I state in my blog post Shades of Gray: On the Subject of Emotions, often times in Scripture people feel and express powerful emotions yet God doesn't condemn them for it. (If you read that post, this is basically an expansion on part of it.) One such person is someone we are probably all too familiar with- David. If anyone can identify with loneliness, he can. With a father-in-law that chased him around the country for years wanting him dead, I think he might just have a right to feel a few strong emotions.
Recently my devotions led me to Psalm 145, a Psalm I had never paid that much attention to. Listen to this:
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
Does this sound like a God who would condemn you for feeling lonely? Does it sound like he’s not going to listen to you because you are not “satisfied in Him” (as some people would say)? No! This sounds like a God knows who knows exactly what you are- a human being in need of human connection. But it also sounds like He has provided a way to sooth that desire in the mean time: “The LORD is near to all who call on him.”
So next time I am assaulted by my thorn of loneliness, I will lift my face to God and remind myself of four things.
- The LORD is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works. So He must have a plan for my current singleness (or, for those who are married, feeling of singleness).
- The LORD is near to all who call on Him. This means I am never truly alone.
- The LORD fulfills the desire of those who fear Him. My life is in submission to Him so He knows my desires and they are probably not wrong. If they are, He will show me because I fear Him.
- The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. He also hears their cry and saves them. I will not be abandoned to my loneliness because He is loving and faithful.
As I wrap this up, I’d like to leave you with two final verses that have been of great encouragement to me in the last few weeks. Please, take some time to go over them slowly, word for word. Say them out loud, memorize them, or write them down if you have to. Do whatever it takes to ingrain them on your heart and feel the weight of them. Let them work their way down deep into your soul.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
Don’t let loneliness control you. Let the Master of the Universe control your loneliness. That doesn’t mean you won’t feel it, but at least you won’t be enslaved to it. After all, God sent His Son so you would be free! Don’t let His sacrifice become meaningless. Instead, “be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”
Think about it.