Conquering Loneliness

There are few things worse than the feeling of being alone. The fear of being alone in life and/or death is considered the greatest fear, while the status of aloneness is thought to be one of the saddest states of mankind. The truth of this is demonstrated in the opposite context in which the greatest joy is considered found in the greatest company. It is important to note that this discussion of aloneness is differentiated with those moments of solitude that one seeks out from time to time which occur by purpose and choice. When caught in the desolation and despondency of isolationism it is difficult to understand both the initiation and reverberation of the circumstances.

 

Initiation

When we recognize that the Lord created man for companionship the sensitivity to aloneness is not an emotion of expectation and surprise. We learn from Scripture that God created humanity to live together, to function together, and to glorify God together.

The obvious inclination is to turn to Genesis 2 in which the Lord says it is not good for man to be alone (verse 18). However, this verse refers to the relationship between a husband and wife. But the Lord is not silent on the issue of fellowship. Consider some of the following concepts that we are taught in Scripture about our relationships with others:

  • Believers are encouraged to not forsake the meeting together as the body of Christ (Hebrews 10:25).
  • As the Lord comforts, believers are called to comfort one another (2 Corinthians 1:4).
  • In the course of exhorting believers to be a living sacrifice, Paul encourages his readers to love one another, rejoice together, and mourn together (Romans 12:9-16).
  • Spiritual growth of believers is tied to accountability that occurs through the fellowship between the children of God (Galatians 6:1-2; James 5:19).
  • In the midst of difficulties, believers are to carry the burdens of one another (Galatians 6:2).

In just a few verses pulled from Scripture a major teaching is clear: the well-being of the body of Christ is tied to the well-being of the fellowship that occurs between the body of Christ.

With these verses in mind, the expectation is that believers will function within fellowship. Certainly it was the Lord’s will then that believers would have the propensity to fellowship with one another. It is a natural desire for people to not spend their time alone, but in the companionship of others, especially those who share a common bond cemented with the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is also expected that when we find ourselves feeling at our most alone, downheartedness will follow.

 

Reverberation

In light of the understanding that God has created people to operate in camaraderie, it is reasonable for us to examine how to guard against it. The Lord would not leave us without the means to combat against the entrapment of isolationism. Therefore, when we find ourselves enveloped by such feelings, I would suggest three responses:

  1. Seek His People: Seek fellow believers. Sometimes others have no understanding of what you are experiencing. In other cases they may not know how to respond and while I don’t consider that a valid excuse for inaction, it doesn’t negate the natural inclination of people. Therefore, it can sometimes require you to take the first steps, something that may be difficult when you are feeling alone.
  2. Seek His Word: The Word of God is enlightening. It provides insight into our situations and thus points us towards a right response. Furthermore, through that insight it can provide comfort to the believer’s soul.
  3. Seek His Spirit: Perhaps it is better to simply say seek God, meaning the entire Trinity. However, I draw our attention to the Holy Spirit because of his title as helper and comforter (cf. John 14). Furthermore, we know that the Lord is omnipresent and thus through the Holy Spirit is present with us during all times. In this regard then, we are never alone, despite our feelings to the contrary.

It is easy to say that the Lord is always with you. Yet in practice, we often forget the truth of this statement. In this case then, his word, his people, and his Spirit can work together to remind us of this truth when we most need it.

There are times when the darkness of loneliness will settle in. It is hard to know what to do and even when we do know it can be hard to follow through. It underscores the need for us to never forsake meeting with God, meeting with the people of God and meeting with the Word of God. If these aspects are already part of our normal life, when that darkness comes one is already setup to conquer it.

For those suffering through the trials that life can bring, I would recommend the Glory Books by Dr. Greg Harris (especially The Cup and the Glory). You can find them at the following links: The Cup and the Glory; The Stone and the Glory; The Darkness and the Glory.