“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16, NIV).
“I lie awake; lonely as a solitary bird on a roof” (Psalm 102:7, NLT).
When I was in high school, the Beatles were the popular music group at the time. They had a song, Eleanor Rigby. A line in that song went like this: “All the lonely people. Where do they all come from?” The answer? Everywhere.
Loneliness is universal. Every person feels lonely at times—the wealthy, the married, the popular, the beautiful. You can even feel lonely in a crowd.
Our Bible verses above show the heart-wrenching feelings you can experience when you feel lonely. Psalm 25:16 says to be lonely is to feel afflicted. And Psalm 102:7 says loneliness feels like a solitary bird on a roof. Loneliness is that painful feeling of being estranged, or disconnected, from yourself, from other people, or from God.
Wouldn’t you agree that never before have people lived so close together, and been so connected as people are today, yet felt so far apart? Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have brought more people together, yet I continue to encounter people who feel lonely.
Why do we feel lonely at times? The transitions of life—moving to a new place, losing a spouse by death, going to a new school, beginning a new job, sickness—all can cause us to feel alone.
Sometimes our feelings of loneliness are due to separation. I think often of the thousands of military families who have endured long separations as a result of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. We do, indeed, have many families in our country who are making big-time sacrifices for our nation.
Opposition, conflict, and disagreements with others can make you feel lonely. And so can rejection, divorce, and betrayal.
- Understand that loneliness is a state of mind more than it is an indication of how many people are in your life. I’m sure the man who wrote Psalm 102:7 had many friends and acquaintences, yet when he felt loneliness coming upon him, he said it felt like he was a solitary bird on a rooftop.
- Being with people is not a cure-all for loneliness. Sometimes we mistakenly say to lonely people, “Get out and be with people.” But you can be with people and still feel incredible loneliness. Just ask those who work and serve in significant leadership roles. “It’s lonely at the top,” they would tell you.
- Loneliness does have a positive side. It teaches us to face our problems. Have you ever known someone who rushed into a marriage so she wouldn’t feel lonely anymore? Have you ever spent money on things you didn’t really need in order not to feel so lonely? You can make some impulsively dumb decisions when you feel lonely.
- Another positive thing about loneliness is that it teaches you to meet your needs. I’m talking about the need for friendships and intimacy with others. The pain of loneliness can motivate us to seek deeper relationships with people and with God.
- Change what you can change; accept what can’t be changed. If you are feeling lonely today, apply this principle to the specific circumstances of your life that are creating your feelings loneliness. Can you change those circumstances? If so, do it. If not, accept them as your reality for the time being.
- Live in a way that makes you feel good about yourself. What might this be for you? Exercise? Reading? Cleaning your house? Serving/helping someone? Going to church?
- Know that God cares about your loneliness. Both Bible verses at the beginning of this post show individuals who firmly believed God could comfort them in their loneliness. That is why they called out to Him. God has said, “Never will leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). I’m thinking, that based upon the promise of that verse, no person ever is truly alone. God is with us always. Reach out to Him when you feel lonely.