Empathy Is an Antidote to Loneliness
“The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:16-17, NLT)
Loneliness isn’t prevented or fixed by beauty, wealth, fame, or success. Even marriage doesn’t protect you against loneliness. Many people marry because they’re lonely and divorce a few years later for the same reason.
The apostle Paul’s life goal -- even toward the very end when he was dying alone -- was for other people know about Jesus. In 2 Timothy he talks about being brought alone before a judge. All his friends had abandoned him. But he kept his eyes focused on the spiritual needs of the people around him: “But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear” (2 Timothy 4:16-17 NLT).
He focused on others because he knew everyone needed to hear about God’s love. He could have focused on his own problems, but instead he looked at what he could do to help others. It kept him from being lonely, even when he was alone.
When you’re lonely, don’t have a pity party. Stop saying, “I’m alone. Nobody loves me; nobody even likes me.” When you do that, you’re just focusing on yourself.
Instead, turn your focus outward and build bridges to others. You’ll find there are a lot of lonely people who are also looking for connection.
How can you build bridges of connection? One way is by empathizing with other people’s needs. And remember to ask God to help you connect with others. Pray something like this: “Father, help me be a friend to people who need a friend.”
What’s causing loneliness in your life? Extreme seasons of transition, separation, rejection, or opposition can lead to devastating feelings of loneliness. For instance, much of the world experienced loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But don’t let difficult times keep you from reaching out to people. Look beyond your own problems and find creative ways to connect with others. Empathy is the antidote to lonliness.
Talk It Over
Are you lonely in this season of your life? Why or why not?
How have you become less lonely in the past by focusing on other people instead of yourself?
Spend a few minutes asking for God’s help to connect with other people. Ask him to show you someone who’s lonely. Commit to reaching out to that person this week.
This devotional © 2021 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.