Lonely? Be Encouraged! – Part 1

A family writes and explains how they have no like-minded families with whom to fellowship. The families in their church are very worldly, and they aren’t able to spend quality time with them without wrong influences on their children. As I read the story, I sense a desperation for fellowship.

A mom writes that her husband is complacent about spiritual things. He takes no initiative in spiritually building up his family’s souls such as leading a nightly family Bible time. In addition, he allows the children to be involved in worldly activities such as watching TV and movies. The mom is deeply lonely for a like-hearted teammate with her same passion for following the Lord Jesus.

Another mom writes that her children desire to have friends. The problem is that those they know all seem to be from the “youth group scene” being entertainment and romance focused. What does she do with lonely children?

We have spoken with others who acknowledged they were desperate to get married because of their loneliness. Now they have a spouse, but they aren’t like-hearted, and they simply traded one form of loneliness for another form.

What if you had a terrible stomachache that had lasted two weeks? Undoubtedly you would like relief from the pain, but wouldn’t you really want to know the cause? Physical pain is a symptom of a physical problem. God designed our bodies so that pain would be a warning sign that something is wrong and needs our attention. One of the greatest problems of leprosy is that the nerves aren’t signaling pain when damage is occurring to the body. Hence, lepers will lose their fingers because they are damaging them but not feeling any pain. Pain is the body’s call for help.

I believe that loneliness is similar to pain in that it can be both very real in a person’s life and is symptomatic of a deeper problem. A person who is lonely can tell himself that it is only loneliness, and therefore it shouldn’t matter, but it often won’t go away unless the root cause is dealt with. I do believe the loneliness of those mentioned in the opening of this article to be real and troubling. With pain, one can usually take some form of pain medication, but what does one do with loneliness when there is no acceptable, masking solution? One can’t expect that like-hearted families, husbands, or friends will just miraculously appear.

So what’s the need in our lives of which loneliness is a symptom? The need is for a close, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. When we are focusing on our loneliness, we are looking to others to provide for us what only God can and should provide. The Lord is to be our all in all, our every thing. David tells us that his expectation is in the Lord only. “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God” (Psalms 62:5-7).

The Psalmist says, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (Psalms 73:25-26). The Lord is the One on earth that he desires and Who gives him strength.

Oswald Chambers said in My Utmost for His Highest, “When once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic.” The cure for loneliness is to draw closer to Jesus. Our peace can never be in other people because other people are not perfect and will always let us down. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

As Jesus was leaving to return to the Father, He told His disciples that He would be with them always. He said, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:20). Through His Spirit, He comes to live in every one who has placed his faith in Him. Each believer always has Jesus Christ within him!

If that is true—and it is—then why would any believer ever feel lonely? The reality is that our day-to-day life involves this world. We work, we interact with others, and our focus is easily drawn to this world and those around us. It is all too easy to have an earthly focus and lose sight of the fact that Jesus is within us, and He is the One with Whom we most need fellowship.

This isn’t “pie-in-the-sky” Christianity, but true life in Christ, the way it is supposed to be. Some might be tempted to say, “Wait a minute. My relationship with Christ is good, but He isn’t real enough to me to keep me from being lonely.” Well, He should be! Jesus said in John 14:21, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” The Greek word for “manifest” means to reveal. The more we obey the Word, the more Jesus is made manifest to us.

I wouldn’t have much of a marriage if I didn’t spend time with Teri. We enjoy being together. Even when there have been times when we were easily irritated with each other, we found that the cure was to spend more time together. The more we are in the Word, the more we are praying, the more we set our hearts and minds on things above (Colossians 3), the more we obey, then the sweeter, the more dynamic, the more intimate our walk with Jesus becomes.

I also think many Christians have wrong expectations. They believe that they will have fellowship with other Christians of like heart, that there will be no persecutions, and that everyone will love them. This is not the life that Jesus promised us. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). The cross could be very lonely indeed if it wasn’t for Jesus being with us. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). That neither sounds pleasant nor popular.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). When we are not following the broad and popular worldly path, Jesus is telling us that on the narrow path there will be fewer for us to fellowship with on that journey. There should be no surprise if our neighbors and those we work with think we are crazy. In addition, it may even be professing Christians in church who also don’t understand us and are not like-hearted.

God’s men were not popular. We can expect that the more we are like Christ, the more those of this world will not appreciate being with us. The worldly and religious both rejected Jesus, and they will reject us as well. Moses, Abraham, Daniel, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, the minor prophets, John the Baptist, and Jesus were lonely as far as earthly friends go. They took their fellowship with the Father, will we? “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).