God’s Remedy for Loneliness
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Being alone and being lonely are two different things. One can be alone without being lonely, and one can be lonely in a crowded room. … The sense of isolation is very deeply felt by those who are lonely. The Hebrew word translated “desolate” or “lonely” in the Old Testament means “one alone, only; one who is solitary, forsaken, wretched.” There is no deeper sadness that ever comes over the mind than the idea that we are alone in the world, that we do not have a friend, that no one cares for us, that no one is concerned about anything that might happen to us, that no one would care if we were to die or shed a tear over our grave.
No one felt loneliness more keenly than David. In a series of earnest, heartfelt appeals to God, David cried out in his loneliness and despair. His own son had risen up against him, the men of Israel went after him, and he was forced to flee from the city and leave his house and family. Lonely and afflicted,1 his only recourse was to turn to God and plead for mercy and God’s intervention2 because his only hope was in God. …
Whatever the cause of loneliness, for the Christian the cure is always the same—the comforting fellowship of Christ. … He is the friend who “sticks closer than a brother,”3 who lays down His life for His friends,4 and who has promised never to leave us or forsake us but to be with us until the end of the age.5 We can take comfort in the words of the old hymn that says it best: “Friends may fail me, foes assail me, He is with me to the end. Hallelujah, what a Savior!”—GotQuestions.org6
Jesus, speaking in John 16:32, said these words, “Ye shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” What wonderful words: “I am not alone, for the Father is with me.”
I have been amazed to read so many letters that tell of loneliness. There are two burdens expressed in so many of the letters, more than others: sickness and loneliness. But this message today deals with loneliness: people who have an abundance of everything, and have people all around them, and yet they live in utter loneliness at times.
There is a story of a young man in one of our hotels, who, planning to take his life by leaping from the hotel window, knocked a Gideon Bible off the table as he moved towards the window. In the fall the Bible opened, and curious to see just what it said where it opened, he read this same verse, “Ye shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.”
His wife had left him alone, and this Bible verse seemed to be a direct message right to him. He sat down and read it over and over: “Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” And he wanted to know more about the Father, so he read other passages, on and on into the night. It was such a wonderful thing that happened; both his life and soul were miraculously saved.
This is one kind of loneliness, when loved ones are taken away, and the home and heart seem so empty. Loneliness, after all, doesn’t have a great deal to do with old age, because many young people are terribly lonely and homesick when among strangers away from home. However, there is a loneliness of old age, when the life companion is gone, and so many old friends have passed away.
The other day in the laundromat I was trying to write a letter, but a very talkative elderly lady was pouring out her heart and her life story to a woman by her side. Later, after this woman had left, I said to the listening friend, “Your friend surely enjoyed talking to you.” She answered, “She is not a friend. I never saw that woman before, but she seemed so terribly lonely and said she had no one to talk to. So, I thought I could do a little good by just being a listener until she emptied out her heart.” Have you ever done that for some lonely person?
The loneliness Jesus speaks of in John 16:32 is the loneliness of leadership, and He knew very well what that meant. God’s Word says, “Many of his disciples went back, and walked with him no more.”7
There is also the loneliness of being misunderstood. There are many other kinds of loneliness that can happen to almost anyone. There is a deep longing in every heart to have someone who understands them and shares their interests, and helps them with their problems, and sympathizes with them, and enters into their joys and triumphs, sorrows and defeats.
Let us ask the question: Why is there this deep craving within us to be understood? Why is there this intense longing to have someone fully understand us? We ask these questions because it is true that no human being will ever fully understand you. No living mortal can ever enter the deepest recesses of your mind, heart, and soul. There is always a locked door where no one can enter but yourself.
If this is true then, has God made a mistake of some kind that He’d leave such a void in our makeup? He’s made provision for the other hungers of life. Is the soul to be unsatisfied, this longing for true satisfaction to be left unfulfilled? I want to answer this, and let it sink deep into your heart.
God knew that when you found human love and sympathy so lacking you would seek Him, for God Himself is the answer, the fulfillment. Only He Himself can fill the longing heart. You’ll never be satisfied without Him; until He fills your life, you’ll never be free from loneliness. God knew that this sense of isolation, of not being understood, would drive you to Him.
God’s Word says, “Christ is a satisfying portion,” and He’ll satisfy every longing of your heart.8 It’s real! Millions today testify to that. God is great enough and big enough to fill your soul.
Let Him come into your lonely heart, and then you can say, as Jesus said, “I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”—Virginia Brandt Berg
I am nearer than you dare believe, closer than the air you breathe. Usually, you’re not conscious of being enveloped in air because it is invisible and constantly available to you. Similarly, My unseen Presence is a constant in your life, but you often fail to recognize Me. This leaves you vulnerable to loneliness. If you could always recognize My Presence, you would never feel lonely again.
I deeply desire for you to experience My nearness—and the peaceful contentment it brings—more consistently. There is a close connection between feeling lonely and being unaware of My Presence. This is an age-old problem: When the patriarch Jacob was in a barren place—far from his family—he was quite conscious of his isolation. However, I poured out My Presence upon him in the form of a glorious dream. When Jacob awoke, he responded, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
Awareness of My abiding Presence will protect you from loneliness. Not only am I constantly with you, but I am also within you: in the inner recesses of your heart and mind. My knowledge of you is picture-perfect, and it is framed in unconditional Love.
Let feelings of loneliness remind you of your need to seek My Face. Come to Me with your ever-so-human emptiness, and My divine Presence will fill you with Life to the full!—Jesus9
There is a mystery in human hearts,
And though we be encircled by a host
Of those who love us well, and are beloved,
To every one of us, from time to time,
There comes a sense of utter loneliness.
Our dearest friend is stranger to our joy
And cannot realize our bitterness.
“There is not one who really understands,
Not one to enter into all I feel.”
Such is the cry of each of us, in turn.
We wander in a solitary way,
No matter what or where our lot may be.
Each heart, mysterious even to itself,
Must live its inner life in solitude.
And would you know the reason why this is?
It is because the Lord desires our love.
In every heart He wishes to be first;
He therefore keeps the secret key Himself,
To open all its chambers and to bless,
With perfect sympathy and Holy peace,
Each solitary soul which comes to Him.
So when we feel this loneliness, it is
The voice of Jesus saying, “Come to Me.”
And every time we are not understood,
It is a call for us to come again;
For Christ alone can satisfy the soul,
And those who walk with Him from day to day,
Can never know a “solitary way.”
And when beneath some heavy cross you faint
And say, “I cannot bear this load alone,”
You say the truth. Christ allowed it purposely
So heavy that you must return to Him.
The bitter grief which no one understands
Conveys a secret message from the King
Entreating you to come to Him again.
The “Man of sorrows” understands it well.
In all points tempted, He can feel with you.
You cannot come too often, or too near.
The Son of God is infinite in grace,
His presence satisfies the lonely soul,
And those who walk with Him from day to day
Can never know a “solitary way.”
Published on Anchor February 2022. Read by Jon Marc.
Music by John Listen.
1 Psalm 25:16.
2 Psalm 25:21.
3 Proverbs 18:24.
4 John 15:13–15.
5 Matthew 28:20.
7 John 6:66.
8 Lamentations 3:24; Psalm 145:16.
9 Sarah Young, Jesus Lives (Thomas Nelson, 2009).
10 “A Solitary Way,” author unknown. Published in the Union Conference Record, Sydney, Australia, 1908.