I sat in the forest, hugging my knees. I had never felt so alone. Those I called my friends had left my life like water draining from a sink, leaving only memories. I was sick, my mother had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and I was lonely.
I wrote in my diary: “I wonder-do the stars feel closer to God? Does the sun have a direct link to God, receiving power from Him? Everything here seems so indirect, so detached. Where is the girl who used to feel God’s nearness?”
Are You Lonely?
Do you see other girls laughing with their friends, and wonder why you’re not like them? Why don’t we have friends who understand us? Why hasn’t God brought us to a better church? Why hasn’t God sent romance to us?
Is there anyone who understands our pain?
Why are we so lonely?
Loneliness can take many forms: friends moving on or moving away, breakups, the loneliness of introversion, grief, illness, or spiritual solitude can all bring loneliness. Often we pray for loneliness to be taken away. Yet God doesn’t always rescue us from our loneliness.
We pray, “God, take this from me!” and He answers, “Not yet, my child, for you still have lessons to learn here.”
What should we do when we are lonely?
A Prayer For The Lonely And Afflicted
David’s prayer gives us an idea of how we ought to pray in seasons of loneliness.
“Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.” Psalm 25:16
In the midst of his loneliness, David makes a surprising request. He doesn’t ask God to send companions or banish his loneliness. Instead, he asks God to turn to him.
Loneliness can drive us even further from God. But we can choose to pray “God, please, turn to me and be gracious to me.”
Loneliness Is A Blessing
When we are lonely, we are acutely aware of our need for companionship. We wonder if no one likes us, and we can easily grow insecure about ourselves and start to believe we are unworthy of friendship.
Yet God sometimes allows seasons of loneliness for His own purposes.
When we are lonely, we must deal with our insecurities and doubts about God. We don’t have a choice but to face all of our fears. Rose, if you are in a season of loneliness, choose to use it. It can be a blessing.
Loneliness can force us to mature. We have an opportunity to cultivate a deep inner life. Without the hassle of keeping up with friends, we can become deeper, more thoughtful people.
Nowhere Else To Turn
When we have nowhere else to turn, we can turn to God.
When we are lonely, we learn to cease striving after man’s approval and only yearn to please God. Instead of constantly worrying about what others think of us, we can “be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Loneliness is a season. God will bring you out of it. But don’t waste this time. Recognize there is a unique blessing God is giving you, right now. Choose to seek Him in the solitude.
Our isolation can become a blessing, because here, we find His sweetness so much sweeter, and His goodness so much more good.
“Bare heights of loneliness…a wilderness whose burning winds sweep over glowing sands, what are they to HIM? Even there He can refresh us, even there He can renew us.” -Amy Carmichael
Draw Near To God
So many young women I talk to feel like God has abandoned them. I too have felt this way. Yet Scripture gives us hope, because God promises that He is near to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18)
When we are lonely, we often feel alone in our loneliness: like no one else has ever experienced this. But loneliness is a battle for many, and it is especially common for followers of Christ.
In our loneliness, we can find solace in God. How? Together, let’s look at Psalm 25, which expresses the peculiar longing of a lonely soul, waiting on God. Verses 1-5 read:
“ To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.”
What do we do when we are lonely?
We trust God. We wait for Him. We learn His paths. We follow His leading. We remember His salvation.
“Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!”
We often feel that the loneliness is our fault. That some sin of ours is causing it. While we are right to examine our sin, and sometimes, our sin does cause consequences in our relationships, God does not hold our sins against us. He has forgiven us.
“The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.”
Dear Rose, even in our loneliness, we can find a deep friendship with God. And He promises to turn to us in our loneliness and affliction. What friendship could compare to this? The King of the Universe wants to be our friend.
When we are lonely, there is sweet fellowship in God. Cry out to Him, dear rose. For even when you do not feel His nearness, His arms hold you, His love keeps you, and His grace sustains you. Are you lonely? Draw near to God.
Don’t let the distractions of this world, or doubts, or Satan’s lies, keep you from crying out to Him. For He will be your truest companion. He will bear your burdens. He will be near to you. Use this season of solitude. Go out and be alone with God. Let His Word soothe your heart.
The loneliness will pass, but if you allow this season to drive you closer to God, you will forge a relationship with God that can withstand all the trials of life.
(If this article blessed you, you may want to sign up for Diamonds 2020, a free online conference for chronically ill Christians. Bethany Rose will be speaking about how God redeems our loneliness.)
Bethany’s name means “bright city on a hill.” This is her mission in life, to illuminate the beautiful things and shine God’s light where there was darkness. Bethany leads The Wilting Rose Project, a ministry of encouragement for young women who feel their struggles make them worthless. She writes fairytales heavily inspired by her love of the forest, where she spends many of her mornings soaking in the uniquely Minnesotan beauty. Her blog includes more personal documentation of her journey the last few years with Lyme disease and Toxic Mold illness and the journey of healing she is on.