Struggling With Loneliness
The Bible knows about struggling with loneliness:
Loneliness is Elijah’s solitary flight into the desert to evade the death threats of Jezebel. Loneliness is Jeremiah telling God that he planned to stop preaching because of the violent reaction to his message. Loneliness is sitting safely in the ark while listening to the sounds of people perishing on the outside. Loneliness is Moses coming down from the mountain of God only to discover a golden calf. Loneliness is Jesus crying from the cross, My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?
Loneliness is ancient and common and at the heart of what seems to be troubling many people today. This reality is all too evident in the contemporary music of our generation. Green Day’s song, The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, was ranked as the number one song of the decade by Rolling Stone magazine. The lyrics give expression to the angst that many people feel over their lives.
I walk a lonely road.
The only one I that have ever known,
Don’t know where it goes.
But its home and I walk alone.
Beyoncé has won 17 Grammy Awards and sold over 118 million records. She is one of the most well known singers and actresses alive today. Her song, I’m Scared of Lonely, has been viewed on YouTube several million times.
I’m scared of lonely.
And I’m scared of being the only shadow I see along the wall
And I’m scared the only heartbeat I hear beating is my own
And I’m scared of being alone
I can’t seem to breathe when I am lost in this dream,
I need you to hold me, I’m scared of lonely I’m scared of lonely.
As a pastor, I’ve been in the public eye for nearly three decades. Loneliness is no stranger to me either. Chuck Swindoll once said that anyone in leadership knows “the lonely whine of the top dog.”
Have you ever felt alone? Surely you have, at least at some point in life. It’s possible to be surrounded by people and still feel that no one really cares or even understands you. If this is the case, here are seven practical truths you can wrestle with whenever you believe that you are standing alone.
1. Understand That God Does Not Forsake His Children.
In John 14:18 Jesus said, I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. God has no orphans. In the entire history of God, which encompasses all of eternity by the way, He has never abandoned one of His children. Not once! You may believe that you’re alone, but you’re not. You may feel that you are alone, but your feelings don’t match God’s promises. God is always present. He is closer than a brother, Prov. 18:24. Whenever you have a choice between believing a promise from God’s Word or a feeling in your gut, choose the Word.
Sometimes we confuse how we are being treated by others with how God is dealing with us. When a parent, spouse or friend withdraws, it’s easy to project that same pattern of behavior upon God. Sometimes we even blame Him for allowing it to happen. Many people feel that God is far off in the distance or attending to matters more important than our trivial problems.
If you feel this way, you need to affirm two important truths about God. First, He loves you. If you are not convinced of this, it will mess up your thinking in more ways than one. You will spend the rest of your life trying to gain His approval, or worse, believing He will never be pleased with you. You will perform, jump through hoops and make yourself miserable trying to gain what you already have. God is love. You must receive it. He does the giving. You do the receiving.
Second, an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present God never gets too busy for you. God doesn’t run out of time. You can talk to Him moment by moment, day by day. He listens, and in His perfect timing, He answers. If you can grasp what I’m about share next, it will revolutionize your life. Sometimes God will orchestrate a season in your life when you are placed in a position of absolute dependence upon Him. There will be no one else or nothing else to lean upon but Him. He will remove all of our false security blankets, anything that we trust in more than Him, either permanently or temporarily.
All of this happens for a specific purpose. Our heavenly Father wants to be number one in your life. He wants you to depend on Him alone. I’ve often heard it said, “You will never discover that God is all you need, until God is all you have. God isolated many of the greatest servants in the Bible so that they would learn to depend completely on Him and trust Him absolutely. Even our Lord knew this to be true.
Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (NIV)
2. Be Completely Honest.
There are two ways to do this. First, be honest with God, and I mean real honest! He’s not expecting you to impress Him. Who am I to think that He doesn’t know what I’m thinking, feeling or who I really am? God refuses to relate to anything fake, especially a superficial piousness or a blatant self-righteousness. God is not deceived by our self-deception. He finds the false images we present of ourselves to be as offensive as the ones that are made of Him. God has the right to expose anything fake by bringing it to the light. He is forever holy and set apart from our charades. People often talk about worshiping God in spirit, but we must also worship Him in truth.
One of the most loving things that God will ever do for you is to bring you to the light. Darkness is at the heart of what makes people lonely. We never start living until we stop hiding.
Secondly, be honest with others. We wear too many masks. The easiest way to feel isolated and misunderstood is to hide the truth about you from other people. The most familiar mask is the one that communicates to the world, “I’m great. Everything is going well.” I’ve noticed that churchgoing men and women coordinate their Sunday wardrobe to match this mask. Confession time, I’ve done it all too often myself.
The reason that expressions of brokenness, shame, and genuine confession don’t take place in your average church is because people have a hard time being anything other than guarded, or even worse, fake. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true. Ever since the Garden of Eden we have been hardwired to be less than candid with others. Presenting a counterfeit image of ourselves is the default mode of our sinful nature.
If your marriage is in crisis, or things are falling apart on the job, or your kids are breaking your heart, run to the altar on Sunday morning. And take someone with you. The planet is not going to stop spinning when you shed a few tears in the house of God. My theory is that many lost people won’t come to church because they don’t see anything real happening on the inside. The truth about God gets communicated through the Truth in you. When you live humbly before men and broken before God, people will be attracted by your transparency and genuineness.
3. Plug Into A Small Group Or Bible Study.
Heb. 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV)
It is a frequent occurrence. Somebody will leave the church because they fell on hard times and no one noticed. Another person will sing the praises of their congregation because they were smothered with attention and mercy during a crisis. In almost every case, the difference can be described in one word, involvement.
Fewer people will care about you, if you do not care enough to involve yourself in their lives. It’s a fact. The things you do and the places you go reflect what you value the most. Don’t let your values betray you when the crisis comes. If you are not involved in a fellowship of believers, you are not following the example of what the followers of Christ did in the New Testament. Every believer in the early church was involved in a local church. If you are not doing this, you are living like a spiritual orphan. God wants you to stop living like an orphan and start living like a son or a daughter. You’re a child of the King. Enter his courts with thanksgiving and praise.
1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…” (NIV)
Adrian Rogers used to say that some people only go to church three times in their lives—when they are baptized, married, and then buried. The first time they throw water on you, then rice, and finally dirt. Don’t let this be you.
The Movement, Church of San Antonio has a place for you. We also have a lot in common. We know what it’s like to battle loneliness. We’re not here to judge, but to receive. If you contact us, you will receive a warm invitation to join one of our groups that meet throughout the week.
Until that time, don’t miss “Loneliness And Pain”.