The Cure for Loneliness

Psalm 1391Many POWs tell stories about endless nights in dark, dank cells. They tell about discouragement over lack of compassionate human contact. Their stories reek of loneliness.

Most of us might struggle relating to a POW’s story of loneliness. After all, we live surrounded by people and comforts and activity, enough to keep the odor of loneliness far away.

If loneliness plagues you, you realize you don’t need a prison cell to experience it. Loneliness knows no social bounds. It hits in rooms full of opportunity for interaction and satisfaction. In fact, rooms filled with other people often seem more lonely than your own, empty living room.

And if loneliness seems to be your best friend at times, you know the weapon it often becomes in the enemy’s hands. He knows we’re less of a threat when we’re lonely. He knows loneliness brings an inner focus that drives feelings to run over facts. He knows that helplessness, depression and discouragement flourish in the confines of loneliness. If he can keep loneliness prominent, he knows he can keep us from effectiveness.

The Cure for LonelinessPsalm 1393

As with so many maladies that compromise the health of our psyches (the human soul, spirit & mind), understanding loneliness allows us to make tremendous progress toward victory over its, and the enemy’s, impact on the effectiveness of our lives. With that, let’s gain understanding of loneliness with the goal of making progress toward its defeat.

To defeat loneliness, we must understand that…

  1. Some parts of life are meant to be lived alone. Jacob’s transformation (Genesis 32:23-30). Joseph’s weeping (Genesis 43:30, 31). Jeremiah’s witnessing (Jeremiah 15:17). Nehemiah’s vigil for direction (Nehemiah 2:12-16). All give examples of situations a person often must walk through alone.
  2. God consistently addresses loneliness with companionships. God made Eve for Adam because it wasn’t good that he was alone (Genesis 2:18). God gave Elisha to Elijah to dispel the loneliness of depression (1 Kings 19:14-18). And God creates families to help overcome loneliness (Psalm 68:6). With unmistakable consistency, God dispels loneliness by creating opportunity for companionship.
  3. Companionship provides the greatest offensive for loneliness.  Companionship gives significant advantages, not the least of which involves ridding our lives of loneliness. Ecclesiastes 4:7-11 lists the benefits of companionship, including encouragement and increased effectiveness. Even Christ desired companionship during the greatest trial of his life. Though he failed to receive it, Matthew 26:36-45 clearly shows his longing for companionship as a source of encouragement as he walked a very lonely path.
  4. No matter how we feel, we’re never truly alone. The words of Matthew 28:20 likely sound somewhat familiar to most Christians… “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Many find great comfort in this statement. The words of David in Psalm 139 describe the depth of this reality in every Christian’s life… “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (v. 7) The more this truth fuels a person’s faith, the less room that exists for loneliness.

Psalm 1397Even with a scriptural understanding of loneliness, many (myself included) still struggle with feeling lonely on a regular basis. How can this be true when God so clearly shows us his heart’s desire for our lives to remain absent of loneliness? The answer, perhaps, likes with understanding true companionship.

Understanding Companionship

When I feel lonely, even when sitting in the middle of a group of people, the reason usually lies with feeling disconnected. You see, loneliness goes well beyond a physical state and instead exists as a state of the mind. Only true companionship (affiliation, camaraderie, togetherness, union) truly dispels loneliness, not being in the physical presence of others. Consider the antonyms for loneliness to help understand this truth:

Together. Adopted. Cherished. Defended. Maintained. Supported.

Companionship, not simply proximity to others, provides the solution to loneliness by creating true connection that brings encouragement through valuing, accepting and protecting another. Only when we feel a togetherness and a belonging that creates a knowledge of encouragement and support do we truly see loneliness running off into the distance.

Psalm 13918The word fellowship, which also defines companionship, takes this reality to yet another depth by giving the idea of actually traveling together. There’s a reason we fellowship with one another and gather in fellowship halls. This idea of companionship as a way to travel through life together exists as a need at the core of our existence. When we truly experience companionship, when that deep need within us gets met, only then does loneliness become a distant memory.

DISCUSSION: How do we create or find the type of companionship that dispels loneliness?

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23 Replies to “The Cure for Loneliness”

  1. Whether we feel like Jacob at the Jabbok RIver, Elijah at the Brook of Cherith, or John on Patmos… We are never alone. We may feel cutoff, left out or even isolated or rejected, but never alone. That is the key point I believe in what you made. We can be caught up in the march of the crowd rushing by and still feel disconnected, alone and without an audience to hear our cries of loneliness. BUT, even Jesus felt forsaken but he was never forgotten by God…neither are we.

  2. Kari, I'm right there with you, as loneliness makes itself at home in my life at various times. There are various reasons for feeling lonely, but I've found that simply reaching out to friends is one great way to combat loneliness. Contact someone you haven't spoken to in a while, or take initiative to get together with a friend.

    Even beyond those simple acts, though, we have to be willing to be vulnerable with our spouse and close friends. Our hearts long for us to be known, but ironically we often hold back speaking about what we're dealing with or sharing our innermost thoughts and desires. The most connected I've ever felt with people is when I've been willing to offer transparency in my relationships.
    My recent post Facing Unexpected Criticism – A Personal Story

    1. Reaching out truly does help. It's also often one of the most difficult things to do, especially if social interaction isn't you're natural inclination (introversion, for example). We need to do it regardless of how we feel because the fact is that interaction truly does help dispel loneliness. Transparency is another key too. Without it, we can't really have fellowship and true connection. Without transparency, our relationships remain too far on the superficial side.

      1. I used to struggle with reaching out and making plans for fear of rejection. I would often hope to be asked to hang out with others, especially new people. However, I eventually realized my propensity for planning and leading, and I had this desire to be more intentional in my relationships. That fear still crops up when I'm about to ask a new friend to lunch or to go hiking, but the outcome of developing friendships far exceeds any fears of rejection that I have.

        1. Terrific testimony, Chris. My fear is discomfort. Your point to the outcome being far more worth avoiding any negative is inspiring to me. I\’m going to make more of an effort.

  3. I like the pyramid interludes Kari. They brought out exactly what you are saying. No one is alone. It may seem like it. It may seem like the world is caving in and I am facing it all by myself but the truth of the matter is different. Thanks for a needed lesson today.
    My recent post Brace

    1. Facts over feelings. One reason we NEED God's word — and we need to go to it regularly — is that it gets the facts in our hearts that help overcome feelings that can lead us down the wrong path.

        1. Remember it during the tough times definitely. BUT, make it a habit in the good times, and it will be easier to remember — or more automatic — in the tough times. Perspective changes for sure, my friend.

  4. As I read this tonight I am on the phone with my hubby who is in Illinois while I am home this week in Wisconsin. Just knowing he is on the other end of the line helps me feel less lonely. The connection may be a long distance one, but it is as close as if we were sitting side by side in the semi!

  5. I think times of loneliness can be expected. It allows us to turn our attention toward God and the ones we love. God has given us each other for a reason. Great post!

  6. I think the type of relationships that dispel loneliness are ones that go well beyond a surface relationship. It takes both parties to make this type of relationship special. You have to be willing to share the good and bad about yourself and willingly listen deeply to what the other shares without judgement. Relationships themselves do not do away with loneliness; relationships that are deep can do that. One with a lot of friends does not mean they are not lonely; but having one really close friend can make all the difference.

  7. So good, Kari. It's amazing that we have a thousand new ways to connect and loneliness is as rampant as ever. Like you said, proximity isn't true companionship or community. I especially like what you said about how embracing loneliness decreases our effectiveness. It's not always easy to overcome, but we were created for more and better. Thank you, Kari.
    My recent post He Loves You the Same

    1. It is amazing that with our connection age, so many are disconnected. We ARE created for way more, and loneliness only holds us back. Plus, it's just not God's will for our lives.

  8. Love the scripture Psalm 139:18…it has kept me many of lonely times on the mission field when I have been cut off from dear friends and family. For sure loneliness will lead into depression unless we fight against it and get out in the sunshines and around encouraging people. Music has been my go to when I cannot be with people, it takes my mind to the one who suffered loneliness here to earth. Good post my sister.

    1. Music and sunshine definitely both help, Betty, especially when shared in fellowship with others. Need to keep struggling… because struggling means you haven\’t given in. Thanks!

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