Since my childhood I have had an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I feel lonely at home and in church too. I don’t know what to do anymore. I certainly don’t want this for the rest of my life. My pastor is busy all the time, so I’ve run out of options. Can you advise me what can I do to cope with loneliness?
I’m sorry to hear about your battle with loneliness. Although we all can feel lonely sometimes, each person’s experience with loneliness is different.
God never promised us He will completely remove our loneliness, but He does give us seven principles to help us cope with our loneliness and feelings of isolation.
1. The Bible contains many examples of loneliness.
The Bible gives numerous examples of people feeling isolated and lonely. Loneliness is a universal experience.
- Job describes his loneliness. “He has put my brothers far from me, and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me. My relatives have failed me, my close friends have forgotten me.” (Job 19:13–14)
- The Psalmist’s friends abandon him and leave him helpless. “You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape;” (Psalms 88:8)
- Lonely people can have insomnia. “I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.” (Psalms 102:7)
- The psalmist has no one to care for him. “Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.” (Psalms 142:4)
- God the Father left Jesus alone at the cross. “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34)
- No one showed the prodigal son mercy. “And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.” (Luke 15:14–16)
- No one helped the sick man in John 5. “The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”” (John 5:7)
Even though the Bible is replete with illustrations of loneliness, the English word “lonely” is only used three times in the ESV Bible: Psalm 25:16, Psalm 102:7 and Lamentations 1:1.
2. Many people today are coping with loneliness.
Loneliness is not isolated to ancient times. There are plenty of examples of lonely people in our society today.
- A widow battles with loneliness living by herself in a nursing home.
- An alcoholic loses his job and family and is rendered homeless, living on the streets.
- Soldiers serve their country overseas away from their family and loved ones.
- An orphan lives his entire childhood without any experience or memory of a family.
- A person with same-sex attraction struggles with a life of celibacy to avoid the sin of homosexuality.
There is a common theme when we get lonely. We feel vulnerable, alone and isolated. We think no one listens to us and understands our personal situation. We desire meaning connection with other people. We want intimacy, yet God does not grant what we are asking.
3. Loneliness is the result of the fall.
Before God created Eve, Adam was alone without a suitable human companion. However, Adam never felt lonely before the fall. He had perfect communion and fellowship with God. There was no sin that hindered Adam’s relationship with God.
Adam and Eve’s sin produced painful consequences. One of sin’s results is loneliness. Sin destroyed Adam and Eve’s perfect union with God. Sin fractured their union with each other.
It was never God’s original intention that we feel lonely, isolated, and alone. Loneliness is the repercussion of the fall.
4. Marriage does not cure loneliness.
Many single adults experience loneliness. Married people get lonely too. In fact, some feel more lonely being married compared to being single.
People in difficult marriages are lonely. They may agree to sleep in the same bed; they may agree when to stop arguing. But there is no meaningful connection.
“It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” (Proverbs 21:9)
People in good marriages are lonely too. When a wife separates from her husband for many days due to a business trip, she can feel lonely. When one spouse loses his mind to Alzheimer’s dementia, both can feel intensely isolated and alone.
Sin created a barrier between us and God. Sin also corrupted marriage, the most intimate of human relationships. Because of sin, even married people feel lonely.
5. We are never alone when we are united with Christ.
God provides a plan to deliver us from our isolation. Our path to overcoming loneliness begins when we are united with our Lord Jesus Christ.
When we place our trust in Christ to forgive us of our sin, we are united with Christ. We become married to Christ. Our entire life is transformed. Our personal identity changes. Christ’s spirit indwells us, and He becomes our constant companion, counselor, and friend.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16–17)
Christ Jesus experienced a great deal of loneliness, especially at the garden of Gethsemane and at the cross. His disciples left him, and even God left him temporarily at the cross. Christ Jesus is a our great high priest who perfectly understands our personal loneliness. We can always pray to God who truly understands and is ready to show us mercy and grace.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15–16)
We share new commonalities with other Christians who are also united with Christ. We have the same faith, same hope, and same Lord. We enjoy the same desires and goals.
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4–6)
We have fellowship with God, and we have fellowship with other Christians. All of us inherit this new status. Christian are never alone.
6. Christ redirects our focus from ourselves to others.
As Christians, we have a new identity and standing. We also have a new focus and perspective. We are not to look at our self interest, but we are to look at the interest of others.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3–5)
- Look and see others for who they really are.
- Listen carefully to other people.
- Reach out and show others mercy.
- Think and pray for the needs of others.
The Apostle Paul, when he was forced to leave the Christians at Thessalonica, constantly thought about his fellow brothers in Christ. Instead of dwelling on his personal problem, he set his focus on others. What brought Paul joy was looking at the well being of others.
“But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” (1 Thessalonians 2:17–20)
7. God will not eliminate our loneliness until the eternal state.
Even though we are not alone anymore, we can still feel lonely. Feelings of loneliness will never disappear completely until we are with God forever in heaven in the eternal state. Only then will we never experience any more sadness, pain and loneliness.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”” (Revelation 21:1–4)
Final Thoughts on Coping with Loneliness
Do not be surprised when you feel lonely. Because of sin, loneliness is a universal condition for all people. Even marriage, the most intimate of human relationships, cannot fully remove our feelings of isolation and loneliness. Even though this was not God’s original plan, this is our present reality.
Remember God’s plan for deliverance and redemption. Because of the person and work of Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven of our sins and united with Christ. We are set free of sin’s penalty and power.
Remind yourself that you are never alone. The Spirit of God indwells us and lives in us. We have a new commonality with other believers, since we share the same faith, same hope, and same Lord. We have a new identity, and we have a new purpose in life. We are never alone.
Christ gives you a new perspective. We can now focus on serving God and others and not just ourselves. When we focus on others, we will gradually forget ourselves. That is how we can experience true joy this side of eternity.
You have an eternal hope. In this life, we will need to cope with loneliness, and the loneliness may feel agonizing. But we eagerly hope for a future day when we will be rid of this pain in the new heaven with our God. Only then does God promise to eradicate our feelings of loneliness forever.