The first thing you need to do is to be honest about your feelings, and the last thing you need to do is resort to pious platitudes. Loneliness is real and it is painful. It is in no way a reflection of weakness as a Christian or a member of society.
We as Christians love the pious platitudes, however. A. W. Tozer has some instructive words for us about the layers of superficial gloss with which we coat real problems:
Some say brightly, “Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you,’ and, ‘Lo, I am with you always,’ so how can I ever be lonely when Jesus is with me?” Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul, but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what the speaker thinks should be true rather than what he has proved to be true by the test of experience.
I know you’ve run into this kind of thing before. You try to tell a friend about your feelings, and before you can even finish, your friend flashes a spiritually smug smile and issues Pious Platitude #437. Such stock replies leave us cold, because they deny the reality of human experience and struggle. These sentiments are technically true, of course, but they’re also insensitive and unrealistic about the fallen world we live in. We need encouragement, not sermonizing, and we need clear-eyed acknowledgment of the situation, not a sanctified gloss that pushes us toward saying, “I see I must not admit my pain because, after all, I’m a Christian. I’ll just have to cover it up. Jesus is with me, so I suppose I have no right to feel lonely even for a moment.”
Let me assure you there’s nothing Christian at all about such a perspective. We are to face our struggles, whatever they may be, clearly—with no denial. Loneliness doesn’t necessarily come because of something you did, or something someone else did, or because of something you lack. It comes because you are a human being, and it’s given to each of us to be lonely for a season. Accept it as part of the human experience. Then you’ll be able to move on to God’s way of dealing with it.
Accept God’s Provision for Your Loneliness
We need to remember that only God can ultimately solve our problems, including this one. When something is broken we consult the original manu-facturer, and for human beings God is the Original Manufacturer. He created us with certain attributes, and one of them is that we have an emptiness only He can fill. People can’t cover it, though He gave us a separate need for them. Neither money nor things can fill the void. Nothing in this world will ultimately satisfy us short of knowing the One who made us. So the most basic loneliness of humanity is the loneliness of estrangement from God. It has no remedy but one.
For more than three decades I’ve been a people-watcher. I can tell if you are a believer or not simply by observing how you handle your problems. If you lack the inner strength of a godly man or woman, you’ll finally buckle under the stress, the strife, and the struggles. You will lack the most basic resource for dealing with the most basic problem. But if you know Him, here’s what happens: You’re connected to Someone who came into the world, hung on a cross, and experienced ultimate loneliness so you would never have to do so.
How is that so? Hear the cry of Jesus in Matthew 27:46: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” At that moment He carried the sin of you and everyone else on His bruised and bleeding shoulders. In any other case you would have been ostracized from God’s presence forever because of your sin and rebellion—while He would have enjoyed perfect fellowship because of His perfection. Instead, He forfeited that perfect fellowship for you and for me. He took the punishment we had in store, which meant the black loneliness of God, His Father, turning His back on Him. Perfect light can have no fellowship with darkness.
Now you and I walk in the light. We can know God intimately as His beloved children. It’s possible to know liberation from loneliness in the warmth of His love. It happens as we embrace His lordship over us and He takes residence within us. He fills that void, and we begin to know peace and fulfillment and abundance. The Spirit of God is glowing from our hearts, just where He is supposed to be, just as God planned for us. There may be moments of disconnection and loneliness, but the ultimate kind is no longer a threat to us.
It’s important to acknowledge this point. If you don’t know Jesus, there’s nothing else that can be done; there are no other options. If you do know Jesus, then every hope and joy is possible for you. Miracles can happen. The storehouse of heaven is open to you. The fellowship of the saints is available to fulfill your longings for companionship. Above all, the Spirit of God in your heart can identify with everything you experience. He will be there not to poke at you and accuse you, but to gently encourage you, comfort you, and point you to a better way.
Why would anyone refuse this awesome gift? Have you accepted it?
David Jeremiah, Slaying the Giants in Your Life (Nashville, TN: W Pub., 2001), 12–14.
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