Loneliness. The deep, deep ache of feeling like you are completely and utterly alone.
There was a season of my life when I has haunted by my own illusion of this solitude.
While I was surrounded by family and friends who loved me and were for me, they could never understand what I had to endure each moment of every day.
I felt the pain as my back slowly began to hunch over from the months that I had spent in bed, watching Netflix (when I could), staining my pillow with tears, wallowing in the misery of my suffering.
I would wake up each morning with a migraine, fight each minute just to get through, sit through countless doctors appointments/treatments, and argue with my loved ones that I truly was not feeling any better, even though we were all still in denial.
All I could ask myself (and plead with God) was why no one else could possibly understand. I lived alongside of others in what felt like complete isolation.
Anyone else ever been there? Maybe you feel like no one else can possibly comprehend what you are going through.
The problem is when we put all of our hope into the possibility that one day one of our loved ones will fully understand how much we have hurt.
We are dying for someone, anyone to know what we have been through… detail for detail. It was crushing to my people when I did this to them, and this misplaced hope was nearly crushing to me as well.
You have to understand that no human mind can fully grasp this.
But there is a God who sees you in those dark moments and whispers into your heart, “I see you. I am here. I delight in you in these moments when you think that no one is watching.”
Our hope is that because Jesus put on skin and lived among us on earth, He understands loneliness and death and grief and pain and suffering. He not only has sympathy for us but empathy because He has walked where we walk.
The Lord also promises countless times never to leave us or forsake us. EVER.
This means that we can trust that the One whose eyes can see across the galaxies have also seen your every moment and He knows.
He understands your heartache, your anger, your loneliness, even more than you could possibly understand them. He is nearer than your very thoughts.
So what should we do with loneliness?
- Be still and know that He is God. Go into His Word and examine who it says He is, and then ask Him to show Himself to you in these ways. Suffering is a unique opportunity to know intimacy with God unlike in any other circumstances in life. Get to know the One who delights in you. Often He allows us to suffer so that we can learn to delight in Him because of who He is, not because of what He can give to us. Trust that He has you where you are because He is growing you there
- Remind yourself that you are NOT ALONE. This is not a matter of emotions… regardless of whether or not you feel His presence, He is with you, never for one minute forgetting you. Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
- Give thanks. Ann Voskamp says “thanksgiving ALWAYS precedes the miracle”. The loneliness itself is a gift, because it is merely preparing you for an eternal weight of glory far greater. Consider it light and momentary trouble. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
- Refuse self-pity. Turn your thoughts to what Christ suffered for you on the cross rather than what you are currently suffering. It takes away self-pity as we consider what He endured for us without complaining. If He endured infinite suffering and loss for us, we should be able to endure finite grief and loss, knowing that He never fails to work for our good and He delights in bringing beauty out of our ashes.
- Accept your loneliness. One of my greatest struggles in the season of my loneliness was that I convinced myself that it would last forever. That is a lie straight from the pits of hell for anyone who is in Christ. Your loneliness is just for a season!
- Offer your loneliness to God. Trust in His promises to make something beautiful out of your brokenness when you surrender your circumstances to Him.
- Do something for someone else. One of the sweetest gifts of suffering is that is almost a prerequisite if we are going to be of much use to other people, especially when they go through their own trials. This means that when we do suffer/have suffered (from loneliness), we are given a unique opportunity to comfort others who are in the same boat.
Ultimately, no matter how lonely we feel, we are never alone, and Jesus suffering alone on the cross the secure that we would never have to. Although your loneliness may feel like it will destroy or overcome you, stand firm and hold onto this hope: Jesus took away the only kind of suffering that really can destroy you, and that is being cast away from God.
Take heart, friends.