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A major problem facing many people today is loneliness. As I travel the world, I see an increasing number of people requesting help and guidance on handling loneliness in their lives.
In the Bible God tells us we are not alone. He wants to deliver, comfort and heal us. But when people encounter painful losses in their lives, sadly, many never get over them. Sometimes when sudden tragedy occurs, the hurt seems unbearable. Without help, a sense of loneliness can actually settle on a person or family like a cloud, and it doesn't seem to go away.
There are many causes of loneliness, but many people don't realize that they don't have to live with it. They can confront it and deal with it. Loneliness often manifests as an inner ache, a vacuum, or a craving for affection. Its side effects include feelings of emptiness, uselessness or purposelessness.
Are you alone (independent, solitary, on your own)? Or, are you lonely (desolate, deserted, dejected due to a lack of companionship)? There is a very real difference. It’s important to realize that just because you are alone, it doesn't mean you must be lonely or lonesome. While it may not always be possible to avoid being alone, there are always answers to loneliness. Many times loneliness results from a trauma or crisis due to the death of a loved one, a divorce, or separation. When something happens that makes us realize that things are never going to be the way they once were, it often creates crisis or trauma in our lives, which can lead to a sense of loneliness and despair.
Like a healing wound, the pain may be felt for a long time, but complete recovery requires daily improvement. When a physical wound refuses to heal, it indicates there’s an infection that must be dealt with. I believe the same is true of emotional wounds: the emotional part of us should heal just like the physical part of us. God gave us emotions just as He gave us physical bodies. He has provided for our emotional restoration in Him just as He has provided for it physically. While it is true that you may always miss the person or the thing that was lost, it doesn’t mean that you must suffer permanent loneliness.
I believe there are two things anyone wishing to overcome loneliness must do:
1. Know that God is with you all the time. In the Bible, God reminds us that He is always with us and He'll never forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5). Loneliness often leads us to ask ourselves all sorts of questions that can't be answered, such as: What if I am alone for the rest of my life? What if this pain I am feeling never goes away? What if a problem arises that I don't know how to handle on my own? What if...what if...what if...? The questions could go on and on endlessly. Chances are, you'll never be able to answer the "what ifs" in life. But as long as you know that the Lord is with you, you can be assured that He has all the answers you need.
2. Press aggressively into a new life. Not everything in your life is over; just one part of it has ended. One season has passed and another can now begin—if you are willing to take action. Don't just passively sit and wait for something to happen or someone to come along. Go make new friends. Find someone else who is lonely and be a friend to that person. You will reap what you sow, and God will return that friendship many times over.
Let the loneliness you feel turn into compassion for other lonely people, and then decide to do something about it!