Loneliness & What It Has To Do With God
These posts are called stories, so I guess that I will tell you a story. This is a story of what it’s like to feel lost and all alone. Many of you may have felt like this before. I have. It is a common feeling, sadly. But there are a lot of people who don’t realize this one truth: we are never alone.
In my book Nevertheless: What The Bible Says About Mental Health I discuss this quite a bit. Feelings of loneliness can occur in families, friendship groups, at work, at church. And often, we feel lonely even when surrounded by people. It isn’t the absence of people that makes us feel lonely, it is the absence of feeling seen/known/understood/valued. So, before I go deeper into this, here is a story I want to share.
When I was growing up, I was always the odd one. Out of all my first cousins, I was the only one who enjoyed reading and quiet things. And I was the only one never invited when things happened. My family would go to family events and places like Dave & Busters and not invite me. In fact, I usually wouldn’t find out where they went until after they returned home with prizes and were sharing all the fun things they did. Once, my own parents almost forgot me when it was time for a family vacation. They drove off without me. I had to run, luggage in tow to catch up. I can’t even remember where we went now, but I can remember the way the wheel of my luggage clipped my ankle when my mother slowed the car down and I hopped in next to my brother. I wasn’t the black sheep per se, I was more like an extra in my own life. A side character you see and forget all about, just there to take up space. And how did I cope? Silence. It’s not like I could talk to anyone about it. After all, what if they hated me even more? What if they felt like I was forcing myself onto them? So, I pretended to be happy and fine. I worked hard in school just to get some recognition that usually lasted for only an hour or two before I was back to being invisible…but I lived for it nonetheless, even though I always hated school. I was lonely while I was surrounded by people and no one seemed to notice or care.
Now that I have shared that story, can you picture yourself in it? Can you imagine being all alone, unable to turn to anyone else for help? Can you picture what you would do in that circumstance? What you would tell someone else in that circumstance? (As often, we give great advice to others and refuse to take it ourselves.) You might be wondering what that has to do with God and that’s what I am about to tell you know. God doesn’t like His people in pain but He allows it. Either as a way to strengthen us or as a consequence to our own actions, He allows it. Does loneliness suck? Absolutely. And the cool thing is that you can tell God all about it. Tell Him that you hate it, that you feel abandoned and scarred, that no one seems to know who you really are. Tell Him, He’ll listen. Cry and scream and shout. He’s there for you through it all. That’s what I meant when I said that we are never really alone.
Loneliness sucks and anyone who has ever experienced it can tell you. It is something that is laced throughout the Bible, in fact, and people deal with it different ways. Elijah complained and felt like giving up because he thought himself the only righteous one left in a land full of idol worshippers (1 Kings 19:10–18), Jesus felt forsaken on the cross (Mark 15:33–34) and there are plenty more instances. Loneliness is a real issue, and it is one that all believers will have to go through eventually. Now, the real question is, what is the point? Why do we have to experience loneliness? Why can’t God just zap us into He wants us to be?
As I said before, the point is usually to grow us. There are some levels that the Lord wants to take you to that you can’t go with everyone else. And sometimes the people in your circle are people who are on a different path than you and He is separating them so you can be who He has called you to be. Sometimes, it is something else. I am not the Lord so I will not pretend or claim to know His motives, but here are a couple examples to help you better understand.
Now, why can’t He zap us into who He wants us to be? Choice. When God created us, He gave us free will meaning that He allows us to choose to do whatever we want (we simply cannot choose the consequences). God can give you the option to follow Him, but He will not force it on you. That is why He doesn’t zap us and also why bad things happen (because man often chooses to do bad things).
This has just been a bit of a ramble but I hope you can understand this:
God is with you whenever you are lonely.
Your loneliness is only for a season.
How you feel does not define who you are.
We may have days that we feel low and alone but we must rise, and like Elijah did, we may need a second touch but what is important is that when we rise, we rise holy. And on your journey remember that you are loved and you are in the company of the Lord Jesus, He knows exactly how you feel!
For more about my book, feel free to go to my website. I hope that you read this and were encouraged by it. Now take it, and encourage someone else!