Overcoming the Pain of Loneliness
“Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress.” Psalm 25:16 (NLT)
During the first six months after my husband left, I faced the toxicity of loneliness day in and day out. An empty nest, working from home and cold nights alone were taking their toll. The silence echoing in the caverns of my empty heart was often the only sound I could hear.
Warmer weather finally rolled around, and my daughters planned a short spring break trip with their college friends. Out of love and concern for my well-being, and to pull me out of my self-inflicted isolation, they encouraged me to travel to meet them and spend a day in the sun together. I longed for a break from life, if only for a couple days, so I jumped at the opportunity.
The first day was filled with laughter and smiles. The sunshine warmed me from the inside out, improving my mood and temporarily thawing the cold hollowness in my soul. The change of scenery and focus were exactly what my spirit needed. But the following morning when it was time for them to leave, a sense of heavinesss came over me. I realized the crushing awareness of being completely, utterly alone, in another state, all by myself, miles from home.
The reality of my aloneness hit me like a punch in the gut — being alone was my permanent new normal. I suddenly felt more excruciatingly isolated than ever before, as if I had been dropped off on another planet and left there to figure out how to survive. All alone with no escape.
Scripture gives plenty of examples of people who shared these same painful feelings and realities. In fact, all of the Psalms point to evidence that even King David felt lonely quite often. Yet his loneliness is exactly what drove him to lean into God.
In Psalm 25:16, King David said, “Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress,” followed by verses 17-18a, which say, “My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble” (NLT). This whole passage is a series of pleas for God’s help because David felt oppressed, depressed, troubled, unseen and deserted by God and others … painfully alone.
But instead of staying upset with God, David’s prayer takes a twist. I wonder if he paused, slumped his shoulders and breathed a heavy sigh as he humbly uttered the words, “…in you I take refuge. May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you” (Psalm 25:20b-21, NLT). Despite everything, King David leaned into the Lord in his darkest moments instead of away from Him. Despite how alone he felt, David wanted to connect with God and held on to hope that He was there, even if no one else was.
You see, loneliness can actually be a catalyst to grow our relationship with God rather than stifle it. Loneliness is God’s way of reminding us we were made for a personal relationship with Him, and He placed a deep longing in our hearts only He can satisfy.
Maybe you’re feeling loneliness because of the loss of a spouse from separation, divorce or even death. Maybe it’s because of an empty nest, an empty spot at the table, the loss of friends, or attending holidays, weddings or social events solo in a new season of life. It can even sometimes feel the strongest when we’re in a crowded room or with a spouse who makes us feel invisible or unimportant even when in their presence, proving loneliness is a state of mind, not a state of a being.
Regardless of the root of our loneliness, we can always trust God is with us. As we lean into Him, we can continue to pray that He will bring the right people into our lives and satisfy our need for human connection as He satisfies our soul’s thirst for Him. In my own life, I’m thankful God has given me my two daughters and son, my mother and some wonderful female friends to support and care for me as I walk through lonely seasons.
Connect with God first, and the rest will eventually fall into place. God may not take away the loneliness, but as we put our hope in Him like David did, God will make sure we feel His nearness.
Lord, I feel so alone right now. Hear my pleas; help me feel Your nearness as You divinely work to bring the right people into my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 28:20b, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NLT)
For tips on dealing with loneliness or singleness, consider purchasing Tracie Miles’ books, Living Unbroken: Reclaiming Your Life and Your Heart After Divorce and Love Life Again: Finding Joy When Life Is Hard.
Visit Tracie’s blog for more tips and encouragement about overcoming loneliness in any season of life.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you been struggling with chronic loneliness? What’s one thing you can do today to reach out and connect with someone?
How could you lean into your faith and begin feeling God’s presence more? Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2021 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.