Loneliness. Whether it’s because you’ve moved to a new city where you don’t know anyone; you are single, widowed, or divorced; or you just find yourself without any close friendships; loneliness is something everyone experiences at some point. Even before the pandemic introduced “social distancing” and stay-at-home orders, we were already living in an increasingly lonely world. It turns out that virtual meetings and social media are poor substitutions for real-life interactions.
We are not meant to be lonely. In fact, God designed us to be in relationships with others (Genesis 2:18; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). We make better decisions when we discuss our plans with others (Proverbs 15:22), and there are physical and spiritual dangers in living an isolated life (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Proverbs 18:1). So how do we navigate times when we’re less connected with others? How do you trust in God’s plan for your life when you experience loneliness? Here are five truths, grounded in God’s Word, that can help you stay faithful in seasons of loneliness:
Realize Your Worth
It’s tempting to believe one or both of these two lies when you feel lonely: 1) You are unworthy of love. 2) You will never be enough. God’s Word proves that neither of those things are true. In fact, God Himself has chosen you (Ephesians 1:3-4). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14) in His image. Jesus values you so much that He paid the ultimate price—death on a cross—so that you could live in relationship with Him (1 Peter 3:18). And Christ promises that He will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). That’s how much you are worth and how deeply you are loved.
Trust God with Your Circumstances
Loneliness comes in many different forms. You can be in a room with a thousand other people and still feel lonely. And loneliness is certainly not reserved exclusively for singles. You can be married and still feel painfully alone. Changing your relationship status is not necessarily the cure to loneliness, and settling for the wrong person because you are lonely can actually compound the problem.
God can work for good through all circumstances (Romans 8:28), including lonely seasons. He might be using your current circumstances to accomplish some good purpose in your life (Ephesians 1:11), such as allowing you more time for prayer or preparing you for future service (Ephesians 2:10). Elisabeth Elliot, a missionary who was twice widowed and was no stranger to loneliness, said that loneliness was “a cause for joy” because it called her to prayer and encouraged her to draw closer to Christ. Her joy came not from a change in her circumstances, but a change in perspective.
There is a danger in being alone: it can make it easier to give in to temptations, seek out unhealthy coping mechanisms, or make unwise decisions in isolation. That’s one likely reason why addictions seem to be up during the isolation of the pandemic.
The pain of loneliness can make it tempting to choose something that causes temporary “relief,” but which ultimately just ends up making the problem worse. Time wasted on bingeing TV, indulging addictions, or endlessly scrolling could instead be used to study God’s Word or connect with other believers. Similarly, seeking to fill the void by pursuing an obviously unhealthy relationship can keep you away from healthy ones.
If you find yourself stuck in sinful patterns, a biblical recovery ministry like re:generation can help. Instead of being alone, re:generation will help you be known by others who will encourage you (1 Thessalonians 5:11), exhort you (Hebrews 3:13), and pray for you (James 5:16). Even healthy relationships are no substitute for an abiding relationship with Christ, and re:generation helps people connect with Christ and with other believers who are pursuing recovery, freedom, healing, and joy in Him.
Do Your Part
Sometimes loneliness is a choice—or, at least, it is partially influenced by the choices you make.
For example, you might be lonely because it feels like nobody truly knows you or understands you. Take some time to ask yourself why that is the case. Are you afraid of being known? Are you believing the lie that if people knew “the real you” they wouldn’t like you? Are you letting the disappointments of past friendships keep you from making new ones? Regardless of what the obstacle is, if you want to be known, you have to have to trust God enough to allow others to get to know you.
How do you get started? Seek out Christian community. Every Christ-follower should be part of a local church, where Members welcome one another (Romans 15:7), love one another (John 13:34), and serve one another (1 Peter 4:10). If you are at Watermark and are not in community, we’ll help you find one. If you are in community and are lonely, have a conversation about how you can better serve each other in that area (Galatians 6:2).
If you are alone because conflict has broken your close relationships, do your part to resolve that conflict using biblical principles. You might be in a situation where you need to forgive someone who has abandoned you and left you alone (2 Timothy 4:16). Or you might need to ask for forgiveness for your actions that contributed to the distance in a friendship. Either way, as believers, we are required to restore relationships (Matthew 5:23-24) and serve as ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). So, ask for forgiveness and/or grant forgiveness, the way that you have been forgiven by God (Ephesians 4:32).
Know That You Are Not Alone
Being alone is not always a bad thing. Jesus often chose to be alone so that He could focus on prayer (Luke 5:16). Of course, Jesus was not truly alone then, since He was spending time with His Father, and the same can be true for us.
As a believer in Christ, God is always with you (Matthew 28:20). In fact, God seems to be especially close to those who have no one else (Psalm 68:5-6). You can always talk to God through prayer (Psalm 145:18), and hear Him speak through His Word (Luke 11:28).
While human relationships are important, none will ever fully satisfy. There’s only One who is always faithful and will fully satisfy our hearts (Isaiah 58:11). Only in God is there “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). For those who trust in Christ, loneliness is temporary; we can enjoy His presence and peace today, and we will live in relationship with God forever (Revelation 21:1-3).