When You Feel Lonely
Everyone experiences loneliness. It’s the common denominator in the equation of life. Our natural response often is to run from it or deny it by filling our lives with distractions. God has a better way. When we allow loneliness to do its redemptive work by embracing it, it can promote positive life change. Here’s how:
A Greater Appreciation for Others
Loneliness can enlarge our hearts to love. Eight years ago, my grandfather was diagnosed with leukemia. During the weeks before his death, he hugged tighter, smiled wider, and laughed more. Saying goodbye to those he cared for enlarged his heart to love—his greatest sorrow produced a greater virtue.
In the same way, the sorrow of loneliness can be fruitful by causing us to ache for human connection. Without it, we would never marry, engage in friendships, or endure the numerous problems that are a natural part of intimacy. Think back to when you've felt most lonely. My bet is that you longed for human connection. In short, loneliness enlarged your heart to love.
A Deeper Intimacy with Christ
Loneliness can open us to a deeper knowledge of God’s love when we get alone with Him. There are times when I’m lonely that I fight my need to spend quiet time with Christ. Why? Because facing loneliness can feel threatening, like squaring off with a bully who presses me into a corner and makes me look at things about myself that I don’t want to see. However, I've learned that when I embrace my loneliness and hold the hand of God, I don’t fall into a pit of despair like I feared. Rather, I find His comfort.
What do we miss when we run from loneliness and refuse to invite God into it? Ironically, the pain we try to avoid can create an even greater inner chaos. We need time with God when we are lonely. For example, a friend of mine always has a packed social calendar. When he’s not working, he’s helping someone with a chore, watching a movie, or engaging in any number of social activities. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with his interests. However, there is something wrong with using busyness to hide from loneliness. God calls us to live balanced lives in which we are neither afraid of solitude nor of being with others.
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