What does the Bible say about loneliness? More than you might think. Scripture’s light reveals its lies and shows us how to deal with loneliness God’s way.
This excerpt is adapted from Finding God in My Loneliness by Lydia Brownback.
Lie: Loneliness is pure evil
Heightening the waves of loneliness is this myth: “Loneliness is a result of something bad, and therefore no one should have to experience it.”4 If we believe that, we’re going to use everything we’ve got to fight against it. We will have no peace, no joy, and no delight in the Lord. And we will never find our way out of the water.
Let’s take a closer look at that myth. Is loneliness really the result of something bad? On one hand, God did say that it’s not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18). So in that sense, yes, aloneness—and its accompanying loneliness—is not good.
Yet we can’t escape the fact that it was God himself who made Adam and then put him in the garden all alone. Sin hadn’t even entered the world yet. In other words, Adam’s aloneness was God’s doing, and God did it so that Adam—and all human beings after him—would yearn for companionship. God went on to provide a wife for Adam; however, “he never designed marriage to fulfill the incompleteness or eradicate the aloneness. Rather, it more fully reveals our need for our ultimate destiny—to be in union with him.”5
So from the beginning man’s aloneness wasn’t good per se, but that wasn’t the end of the story. No, God went on to provide the remedy for it. So there’s no need to panic. The emptiness that so often accompanies aloneness—loneliness—is meant to be filled to the full with Christ.
Lie: I shouldn’t have to be alone
So aloneness isn’t all bad after all. And since that’s the case, we can’t really claim that no one should have to experience it. To the contrary, since God designed us to yearn for connectedness, it stands to reason that we must experience loneliness.
Apart from that, we’d be prone in our natural selfishness to isolate ourselves so we can have everything in life our own way, never having to bend to the wishes and needs of others. Without a biblical perspective, we will see loneliness as utterly bad, as something to avoid at all costs.
And we will panic.
The voice of panic says,
I’m the only one who’s home alone tonight.
He’s less than ideal, but if I don’t marry him, I might never have another chance.
Being alone is going to ruin my health.
If God were truly good, he wouldn’t leave me in this lonely situation.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Josh 1:9)
I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:5)
And Jesus said,
Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matt 28:20)
What happens when we panic? Our heart races; we can feel the blood pound. A sense of desperation rises up in our throat—we can almost taste it. And then our mind scrambles to latch on to a way out, and at this point, any way will do. If you’re like me, those moments occur most frequently after sundown. Sometimes I dread the night. How will I make it through another one all alone? And why must I? That’s what it comes down to, isn’t it?
Panic so easily morphs into rebellion. Once that happens, we’ve turned away from God rather than toward him. We reject God’s comfort and turn to whatever escape is nearby—television, Facebook, food, alcohol, sleep. We don’t want comfort on God’s terms, so we say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Yet if we insist on life on our terms, we will only entrench our loneliness.
Lie: I can fix this myself
Sometimes our escape methods are significantly more sophisticated. We don’t settle for that simple evening escape; we strategize a radical life-turnaround. And indeed there are times when undertaking a significant change might be a wise approach.
God’s blessings often come to us by means of our own activity, and a pressing weight of loneliness might be the very thing God is using to redirect our path. But if the only available options for change are biblically questionable or if godly friends express reservations about our plans, then we are wise to reconsider. And even when it’s all systems go, there is no guarantee that our loneliness will be remedied as a result.
The bottom line is, we can’t fix our loneliness; we haven’t been created with that capability. We can alter our aloneness, but not our loneliness.
. . .
What loneliness really means
Lies about loneliness are dislodged only by truth about God. He has not left us to solve our plight on our own. Nothing has slipped through the cracks. We are not stuck in Plan B, no matter what brought us to the place we’re in today. If we are alone—if we are lonely—the ache of it is God calling us to deeper fellowship with him through his Son.