Loneliness

Loneliness.

One of the most painful words in the English language. One of the most potentially dangerous thoughts of the heart. One of the least-talked about–but most-felt–emotions during Valentine’s Day, and the week surrounding it. In light of this holiday, many people would describe “loneliness” as “not being in a romantic relationship; being distant from the object of your affections.” There are many other forms of isolation, but this sense of “romantic attachment” may feel rubbed in the faces of the lonesome during Lover’s week. For example, as the Body of Christ gathered this Sunday, many couples stood and shared about how they love their spouse, and the deep joy and sense of completion they have found in their marriage. Friends, family, and passing strangers wish you a “Happy Valentine’s Day”, and even dare to inquire, “Is your honey taking you anywhere special?”

For those of us without a “honey”, it can get tempted to start grumbling, “Before you ask, NO, I do not have any one special, nor am I going anywhere special.”

There is no avoiding it: we all feel lonely at times in our lives. Therefore, it might benefit us to consider what we are grappling with, and what is the godly response to our feelings. I will particularly address loneliness of the romantic nature, in honor of the season, but much of this can also pertain to other senses of alone-ness.

First, let us state that loneliness in itself is not sinful. It is a perfectly natural human longing that arises from our fundamental need to feel connected. Relationships are the core of our being, which is why Our Creator desires an intimate friendship with us, so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for us. It is also why fellowship is a vital part of the Christian life.

“Oh, well, that’s very fine and spiritual sounding”, you say, “but it does nothing to help this tide of unbearable pain sweeping over me. Jesus fixed me up for later and Heaven and that eternal stuff, but what about now? I NEED someone to love and to be loved by.”

We must get over the idea that we can ever find total fulfillment or lasting peace in any human relationship. Blaise Pascal so aptly phrased that emptiness in his famous quote:

“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

 

God is our primary source of fulfillment. No human relationship can ever bring us the same wholeness of heart that a relationship with Him will bring. Period, end of story.

Now that we have that squared away, we can look at the emotion of loneliness from the proper angle. What are the dangers of loneliness? When succumbed to and improperly responded to, it can bring about thoughts such as, “I must just not be a lovable person,” and “Why does she get it all? It’s not fair–God’s cheating me”. Joshua Harris, in his highly insightful–and highly recommendable–book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, writes “Self-pity is a sinful response to feelings of loneliness.”

When we let our emotions grab the steering wheel, we start to indulge in self-pity, covetous comparison, and overly dramatic deprecation of our God-created personalities and God-given opportunities.

 

Another idea presented by Joshua Harris is that we should choose to see loneliness as God’s call upon our hearts. When we feel that pang of being solitary, we must fight turning the focus on ourselves. Instead, we can direct its power differently. Turn to the Lord, pour out your feelings to Him, take comfort in the all-sufficient love He offers so freely and willingly. Also, search for others who need comfort and companionship. Perhaps there is someone who needs a friendly phone call, a note of appreciation, or a gift of encouragement. Keeping your eyes upon Jesus will open them towards others, and will also remove them from yourself.

 

Psalm 42 ought to be the cry of our hearts. Let us thirst first for God, an undying desire to know Him more fully. Let every longing–including those aches for human relationships, even specific relationships with specific people–be brought to Him, not as a woe-is-me whining session, but as a willing and complete surrender of yearnings. Offering our desires to Him reminds us that He is in charge of all things, and that those desires are naught but empty thoughts unless He chooses, by His holy and perfect will, to make them reality. By letting go of our impossible tendency to “stick our hands in it”, we can lay it all before God and trust Him to fulfill every need and sustain us.

 

And, when the time comes for you to have a “honey”, or if you and your “honey” are connected on a deeper level than you are currently, it will be all the sweeter, because you will have found the deep pleasure of a true relationship with God., which is the only path to fulfillment and peace. Let us be as the simple pilgrim,who, sitting down to a meal of bread and water, said in humble happiness, “All this, and Jesus, too?” That is what I want to say if the Lord wills for me to have a wedding day. Not a grasping, “I have to have this person, and have to have him in my time” attitude, but a humble happiness that recognizes God as the giver of all good things, including the gift Marriage or the gift Singleness.

 

When the bitterness and emptiness arise, may we say with David, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, for the help of His presence….the help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 42:5, 11b)

 

Look to Him for all things, and you will find riches beyond compare and beyond your ability to comprehend. Perfect peace. Total fulfillment. Unconditional love. Unshakable hope. All these things and much more, if you would only be surrendered unto Him.

 

All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

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Published in: on February 15, 2009 at 9:29 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Alex~
    I was actually feeling pretty down about being lonely and dateless. It seems like now everyone is hooking up. It feels like everyone NEEDS to hook-up. And if you aren’t with someone then you are classified as a “loser” or even “ugly”. I have never had someone to share valentines day with. And for the past years, I have not cared. But this year, freshman year of high school, I feel like it is so important to have someone that it has become my focus. I thank you for your post that reminded me that I DON’T need some guy with me 24/7. Who I DO need is our one true God. Thanks, Alex.
    ~leah baker

  2. In whatever circumstance that we find ourselves, the Lord is our Hope……..
    and Jesus never fails!

    I look with joyful anticipation for what the
    Lord is going to do in you and with you
    concerning your future.

  3. Mmm hmm! Good stuff! In relation to this post, I’ve been thinking a lot (last night and today) about a thought Elizabeth Elliot talks about in the second chapter of Passion and Purity (yep, I started over … I’m reading it again!). That we should stay “asleep” in God’s will until he “awakens” us to love. Whew! That is GOOD stuff! I’m gonna be dwelling on that for quite some time! And seeking God about it! Because you’re right … our desires are empty if they are not what God desires. Thanks for these thoughts! 🙂


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