Understanding and Overcoming Loneliness

I have been in counselling now for many years, working with God, my counsellors and myself with all my might to overcome the scars of the past. Sometimes those scars leave me feeling lonely and longing for someone to be with me. I know I am not the only one.

Many people suffer with loneliness in our society, and many generations. Seniors suffer from loneliness when their spouses dies. Couples suffer loneliness when one partner works extra long hours to make ends meet. Teenagers suffer from loneliness when they cannot make and keep friends. Children are also lonely when, as children do, choose other friends than them for a time. People with disabilities suffer because they are unable to get out into society. And the patients of mental health suffer loneliness in silence, ashamed to tell anybody they are lonely because they fear they will look weak.

Well I have good news for you. Take heart and cheer up. There are many ways a person can overcome loneliness. We are going to turn to the Scriptures to find out what they have to say about this whole issue, and I promise you that you will not be disappointed.

God cares for the lonely. He looks on them with grace and with mercy.

    Psalm 25:16
    Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

I believe this was David speaking. Yes, even a king can get lonely. He may have all the royal subjects and people under him, but he can still get lonely. In David's day, men were allowed to have many wives and concubines?prostitutes. But not even all of his mistresses and wives could cheer David up when he was down. Instead, he turned to the Lord and asked for God to be gracious to him. David knew that only God could satisfy the longing in his heart. He new God would not let him down.

    Psalm 68:6
    God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

God knows who is lonely and somehow or another, He is always able to find a family who takes the lonely person under their wings and befriends them. They develop a great friendship and eventually feel like family. We can have all the friends in the world but what we truly need is 2 or 3 really close friends we can count on, turn to, laugh with and cry with. It is far better to have a few close friends who are extremely reliable and genuine than to have a multitude of associates and not have anyone you can confide your deepest fears and secrets to.

    Mark 1:45
    Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

Sometimes it is good to be alone. Jesus often grew weary of teaching the crowds. He loved them and didn't begrudge them His teachings, but there were times when He just needed some space, some time to be with his 12 best friends and himself. During these times, I would imagine they would loosen up, rest, fill up on nourishment and laugh about some of their experiences. I would think they would share what they saw and heard from each persons' perspective. I can see in my mind, Jesus leaning back as He listens to Peter, John, James, Andrew and the others share their news. To the disciples this was a new type of teaching and a new way of sharing what they knew. I can see the excitement in their eyes as they tell their stories by the fire at night and Jesus sitting back listening with deep satisfaction and overwhelming joy at their new found faith.

So sometimes it is good to be alone. It gives us a time of refreshing with the Lord. I love those times so much. I really believe they are a cornerstone of my faith. If I didn't have those lonely moments with God, I would never grow spiritually, and possibly, othersl

    Luke 5:16
    But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

When you are lonely, a good thing to do is pray. When you pray, you are no longer alone. Suddenly God's presence is there through the Holy Spirit. And it is good to pray when you are lonely because you can be honest with God about how you are feeling. Tell Him you are lonely. Ask Him for guidance and wisdom for helping you get out of the rut you are in. A lot of the times when I am done praying, my loneliness has disappeared.

Does it feel like everybody has abandoned you? Many people in Scripture have felt that way.

    Exodus 6:12
    "But Lord!" Moses objected. "My own people won't listen to me anymore."

Moses felt abandoned by his people. They wouldn't listen to him and they questioned his authority. And what did Moses do? He immediately turned to God with his pain and his sorrow and anger.

But even if all our friends desert us, like Job's friends did, we have assurance of this:

    Hebrews 13:5
    God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you."

Sometimes it can be the people closest to us who abandon us and leave us lonely. This is not easy for our hearts. But the Bible has some encouragement for you here too: Psalm 27:10 - Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.

    Proverbs 18:24
    There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

You can't always depend on people. We are human and we will fail each other from time to time. But we can always depend on God. He is always with you, always near you and always loving you.

How can God Help Me in My Loneliness?

I believe there are really only 2 people who can help you overcome your loneliness and feelings of abandonment - you and God. And the 2 must go together. Let's look at some verses that tell us how to deal with our loneliness.

    Psalm 23:4
    Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

We can be in the worst situation and still God will not leave us. He will say right there beside us as we walk along in darkness, fear, death, pain and sorrow. Our enemies cannot destroy us at these times because with God by our side, we are ever protected.

    Psalm 139:17
    How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!

They are innumerable! God thinks about us continually. Can you imagine that? God, the infinite and almighty, thinks on us all the time. He looks out for our welfare and protects us from as much pain and hurt as he can. He can't protect us from every pain because then we wouldn't learn anything, but he can protect us from some of it and even provide what it is we need to get us through that moment, be it a friend, money for groceries or just having some spare time to do the things you enjoy. God thinks about us all the time. What a wonderful God, to think upon this fallen creation all day and night!

    Isaiah 54:10
    For the mountains may depart and the hills disappear, but even then I will remain loyal to you. My covenant of blessing will never be broken," says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

Even if the mountains suddenly disappear, God will still not leave us. He has promised to never break His covenant with us again. Remember the promise of the rainbow? God will never again flood the earth like he did, when all creation, save Noah and his family and 2 of every animal, were sinning so bad that God had to destroy what was bad in order to gain a fresh start. Sometimes it is like that with us. Sometimes we have to see our nakedness and our true inside if we are going to deal with our loneliness. Loneliness is not something God alone can fix. You have to actively be trying to find ways around it. Church meetings, social dinners, support groups and more are just some ideas of where to make good friends.

    Hebrews 10:25
    And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.

One of the biggest things we can do to overcome our loneliness is to get out to church. Not a church person? Too bad. You make a lot of great friends there. Ones you can call on if you need to talk. People who are genuinely concerned with how you are doing. People who can teach you from their experiences. People who share the same faith as you do. You will have so much in common with these people, it would be hard to be lonely in a gathering like meeting at church at least once a week. Most churches have small Bible study meetings, women's meetings, men's meetings, kids groups, and youth group for the teenager in you family. Churches often sponsor events like a potluck dinner where everybody brings something to eat and we go from person to person chatting, laughing and getting to know each other better. It is more a time for socially connecting with one another than it is for sharing the Gospel, although that may go on too.

    Romans 12:5
    So it is with Christ's body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do.

And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others. If you are a Christian, you belong to the body of Christ. You will likely be aware that if you were not in the body of Christ, the church would not function properly or to its fullest. The body can live without one arm, one eye, and so on, but it functions better when all its members?parts are together. The same goes for our Christian fellowship. When one person is missing, the body is incomplete. The church needs you. You may be sitting there and wondering why they church would need you. For the same reason you need them. For support, friendship, encouragement, good times and prayer support when required.

Now let's look at other ways to overcome loneliness.
The first thing you have to do is overcome your fear of getting out and doing something different. You have to get over your shyness. Step up and speak to that person standing alone in the foyer of the church shuffling their shoes around. I did this once and that person and I are now best of friends. She was too shy to come to me, and I was too shy to go over and talk to her, so for 3 years, we went on not speaking. Then one day, I took a deep breath and said, "ok, here goes nothing!" I went over and said hello and introduced myself. Within 10 minutes we were sharing things that we both had in common.

Our fear of reaching out to other people, our desire of wanting to connect with each other and how much we had in common! It was like we were meant to be best friends. She was very reserved and quiet and I was no social butterfly and so we passed each other dozens of times not knowing the other wanted to try to be friends. Sometimes overcoming loneliness means you have to take a chance and speak to somebody you have never spoken to before. Chances are, you will make a friendship of a lifetime, but YOU have to make the first move.

Another thing you can do to overcome your loneliness is invite somebody over for tea for an afternoon. Or invite 2 or 3 over for tea and maybe to play a game of Life or Monopoly. Do something other than just sitting around staring blankly at each other. Talk with your friend, not TO them. Ask them questions about their own lives: their interests, their job, their family life, where they can from and other open-ended questions. Don't drill instructor them, but ask questions so you can get to know who this person is and what they are all about. God created us for relationships and somehow we have to find ways to meet those relational needs. Seek God's Word and seek Him in prayer and He will guide you as to what path to take next.

These are just some simple suggestions about how to overcome loneliness. I am sure there are more. When I did a search on the internet I found these:

From Christian Classics Etherial Library I found these vital points:

    Faith helps us to overcome loneliness.
    A. JESUS RECONCILES US BACK TO GOD...
    1. Paul explained that Jesus' ministry was one of reconciliation - 2 Co 5:18-20
    2. Jesus offered Himself as the only way to God - Jn 14:6
    3. When we keep Jesus' commandments, we are assured of the abiding presence of both the Father and the Son -
    Jn 14:21, 23 Through faith in Jesus, we can be reconciled to God and thereby never truly be alone!

    B. JESUS ADDS US TO HIS FAMILY...
    1. We read where Jesus added people to the church - Ac 2:47 (KJV, NKJV)
    2. This "church" is also described as God's house, or family - 1 Ti 3:15; cf. 5:1-2
    3. Indeed, Jesus told Peter what His disciples would enjoy in this lifetime, which I understand to be a reference to His church - cf. Mk 10:28-30 -- Through faith in Jesus, we are born into a spiritual family where we should never be alone

    C. JESUS' WOULD HAVE US RESPOND POSITIVELY TO LONELINESS...
    1. He teaches us to pray, which builds companionship with God
    a. To pray always, and never lose heart - Lk 18:1
    b. To pray to our Father in secret, where you are one on one with Him - Mt 6:5-6
    2. He teaches us to serve, which builds companionship with others - Mt 20:25-28
    a. One cannot be alone when they are busy serving others!
    b. Remember, "Many Christians suffer from loneliness because they are sitting instead of serving."
    -- Through faithful obedience to Jesus, we will establish and nourish relationships whereby we will never be alone!

From http://sam.ag.org/health/loneliness.cfm I found the following:

    Like yourself enough to be happy alone.

    Know what you want out of life and go for it.

    Be active in a church group.

    Tear down any fences you have built around yourself.

    Develop your personality so people will want to be around you.

    Enjoy reading a book.

    Find an empty heart and fill it with friendship and appreciation.

    Have something to do and do it.

    Do volunteer work.

    Go back to school

From http:??www.family.org?focusoverfifty?articles?a0016615.cfm
I found this:

    Recovery from loneliness need not be long and tedious. It can begin by seeking God's wisdom, guidance and dependence in these difficult circumstances. In addition, some of the following suggestions may help you overcome loneliness.

    1.Develop a spiritual social network. This can be done by attending a Bible study that is appropriate for your age, likes and interests.

    2.Develop one or two relationships from this network into confidants and friends.

    3.Realize that we are never alone as believers (Proverbs 18:24, John 15:15).

    4.Learn to stand on God's promises, allowing them to be your foundation. In doing so, you are climbing the stairs to freedom.

Overcoming loneliness is a battle you can win. The brokenness we experience in loneliness is an invitation from God for the restoration of relationships. Using loneliness as motivation will transform your relationship with Christ and other loved ones in your life.

So it doesn't matter where you look, there is no excuse to be caught in loneliness. There are things you can do and there are things God can do to help you. You just have to be willing to work at it. Loneliness is a state of mind. You can change your loneliness at any time, so long as you are willing to work at it, and maybe even fall a few times.

Try some of the techniques and ideas in this article and maybe you will find yourself with a whole bunch of new friends or a few close, trusting and open relationships. Male or female, it makes no difference. The answer is always the same. My first answer, seek God's guidance for what He would like you to do. He too wants to be your friend and companion.

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Copyright 2007-2014 by Sheri Liegh Adams.
All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Sheri lives in Canada.

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