Loneliness is a human condition – not relegated to singleness, but present in marriage, motherhood, work, and home as we experience seasons of relational and spiritual drought. We want it to go away, and for good reason. The gnawing feeling of “aloneness” is uncomfortable. But when we rush through these seasons, desperate for them to end, we’re missing out on their purpose.
Your loneliness can glorify God. In fact, when this trial – because that’s what loneliness is – is permitted to accomplish its full work, loneliness always points to the goodness and glory of Jesus Christ.
It’s counter intuitive – letting loneliness take its course so it can accomplish an eternal purpose. This is often at the expense of our own comfort. But even as we struggle in the wilderness, when we feel as if no one can relate to us or there is no end in sight, our faith in God’s goodness and eternal purpose helps us use loneliness to glorify the name of Jesus.
Loneliness Draws Us Near to God
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
When no one can identify with us or share the burden of our life circumstances, there is One who can: Jesus Christ. God shows Himself powerful in the valley. When darkness threatens, we can rest in the assurance of God’s sovereign power and perfect love. Death itself has no hold on us; only its shadow can approach us, and even then God is with us.
I love the names of God, but I particularly love calling Jesus Emmanuel. We don’t reference this name beyond the Christmas season, for the most part, but it has tremendous power for our seasons of loneliness. Jesus is literally God WITH us. He is present, drawing us near to God – if we let the season do its work.
In Loneliness, We Identify With Christ
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matt. 4:1)
When you stop to consider Jesus’ life and ministry, much of it was spent in painful loneliness. No one could truly identify with Him; He was (and is) both God and man. His disciples were flawed, sinful, and often filled with doubt. His teaching was often ill-received, and many people wanted Him dead. Even His own brothers didn’t believe in Him at first (John 7:5).
Jesus’ experience with loneliness should be very comforting to us. He truly is the High Priest who identifies with our experiences:
Therefore, since we have such a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16)
Perhaps you have lost a loved one and no one understands the pain. Maybe you just had a baby and don’t have a strong community of Christian moms around you. Perhaps you’re single and all your friends are getting married. Whatever the season, you are identifying with Christ when you use your loneliness to draw near to the Lord. Jesus prayer life was central to His ministry, but I believe it was also His way of identifying with the only Person who could truly understand His pain and trial: Father God. Through Christ, you have access to this same support.
Loneliness Teaches Us to Love Others
Lastly, loneliness can do one of two things: it can drive us into self-pity and self-centeredness, or it can drive us to love others with fresh abandon. The incredible thing? Loving others actually removes the sting of lonely seasons, shifting our minds off our own situation as we pour ourselves out for others. Jesus, once again, is the perfect example of Someone who suffered loneliness and death for the sake of others.
Our loneliness is not about us. It can be an incredible motivator to ministry and way to point to God’s goodness – if we embrace the season, allowing it to teach us everything it possibly can.
At the end of June, my husband lost his job in a sudden company layoff. It was the day after we bought our house, we had little in savings, and I was three months out from my due date with our second child. Our friends and my readers were very supportive and prayerful on our behalf, but there were many days I felt incredibly lonely in our situation. No one else I knew was experiencing job loss. No one else I knew was in the third trimester, staring down the barrel of a depleted savings account.
But God was present in that season. He is present even now, after He has answered our prayers for a job and provided for us just in time. During that season, we clung to what we knew of God’s faithfulness from seasons past – seasons of singleness, engagement, early marriage and early parenthood. If we had not learned how to navigate loneliness then, we would have failed this test later on.
Let your loneliness accomplish an eternal purpose. Let it glorify Jesus Christ.
This post is based on a chapter in my NEW ebook Fruitful: A Year Long Guide to an Abundant Single Season! Fruitful launches on September 1st, 2017 – sign up below to be first in line and receive a FREE 30-Day Prayer Guide for your single season!