What comes to mind when you think about loneliness? An elderly person living on their own? Singleness? The truth is, loneliness can’t be assigned to a particular age or stage of life. It’s something that can affect us all.
Whether we’re an introvert or an extrovert, spending too much time on our own can cause us to start feeling lonely. But loneliness doesn’t only occur when we’re isolated from others. When we start something new, it can be a struggle to feel like we really belong. Whether it’s moving city, heading to university, or starting a new job, we’re bound to feel a mixture of emotions. We’re leaving behind the familiar and stepping into a new world, with new people and new ways of doing things. It can be challenging to take it all on board, and at the same time have the energy to invest in new friendships, find a church, get to know our neighbours, or start a hobby. We can be in an exciting, fresh situation, surrounded by people, but still feel incredibly lonely.
If we’re struggling with loneliness, it’s a great idea to get involved in the local church. God made us to live in community and be there to support and encourage each other. In Psalm 68, we’re told that ‘God sets the lonely in families’ (v.6 NIV). The Church can be like a family for us. It gives us a place to belong, serve, and grow. It’s also important to speak up about how we’re feeling. We may not feel able to talk to anyone around us, but we can talk to friends and family, find a counsellor, or speak to someone in our church. We shouldn’t isolate ourselves, however bad we’re feeling, because we need other people to help us heal and move forward. The writer of Ecclesiastes sums it up: ‘Two are better than one…If either of them falls down, one can help the other up’ (4:9-10 NIV).
And most importantly, we need to take hold of God’s promise: ‘The Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV). Loneliness isn’t a pleasant experience, but we can turn it into an opportunity to spend more time with God and learn so much about Him. We experience more of His peace, comfort, and love when we feel alone and forgotten. And when everything else is stripped away, we realise that God really is all we need.
Kat Turner, Assistant Editor of Word For You