ME, MYSELF, I.....and GOD? A Word to the Lonely...
Just as I had been contemplating loneliness this past week, I saw this well-meaning quote:
I don't know how people could get lonely in the presence of purpose. There is too much to do..."
I thought deeply on that statement, and I wanted to agree with it. It sounded so right, so true! Yet I felt that I could not accept it. I felt as though I had encountered evidence to the contrary, and that nagging sentiment continued gnawing at me.
Considering that the person being quoted is a Christian, I assumed that by "presence of purpose" he meant God's purpose for an individual's life. As such, he was basically insinuating that when a person encountered God's purpose for their lives, the sheer accomplishing of that purpose in life should occupy them to the point where they do not feel lonely.
"A state of being dejected by the awareness of being isolated or without companions"
A CASE FOR LONELINESS, EVEN IN THE PRESENCE OF PURPOSE:
When I look at the Biblical account of the prophet Jeremiah, I see an example of a man deeply engaged in living out his purpose in God, yet consistently plagued by loneliness. God had mandated that Jeremiah's life should reflect God's revelation to the rebellious people of Israel at that time. He was commanded to remain single and not to participate in celebratory activities, including weddings and funerals. By his own admission, Jeremiah's life was defined by pain and isolation. Hence he earned the name "The Weeping Prophet".YET, It is certain that Jeremiah lived a life of obedience to God, walking in his purpose.
In 1 Kings 19, we see Elijah sitting under a bush, telling God that he had had enough, and that he just wanted to die. When God asked him to elaborate, Elijah cited death threats and a feeling of being alone as reasons for his request. Keep in mind that Elijah had called down fire from heaven a few scenes earlier. Was he in God's purpose for his life? YES. Was he lonely?YES
DEALING WITH LONELINESS, EVEN IN THE MIDST OF PURPOSE:
When I look at Jeremiah and Elijah, both of them survived their lonely periods. How did they do it? They did it the same way that you and I have to do it, in our own lives.
1. Don't condemn yourself for feeling lonely
There seems to be a new undercurrent in our PERMA-HAPPY society these days, that if you don't feel happy and complete and fulfilled all the time, you're either doing something wrong, or out of God's will. Yet the Bible shows me differently. If you feel lonely, admit that you do and realize that it is normal. At least now you can take your loneliness to God
"There seems to be a new undercurrent in our PERMA-HAPPY society these days, that if you don't feel happy and complete and fulfilled all the time, you're either doing something wrong, or out of God's will."
2. Realize that it is possible that LONELINESS may be the price of your calling
Times of loneliness are sometimes the cross of people with very high callings. Oftentimes, if God calls you to something extraordinary, it may seem like others do not understand, or cannot relate. In such a case, you may face chronic feelings of loneliness. If you spend your life thinking that loneliness is something that should never befall you, you set yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment. When faced with your loneliness, realize that we all have our crosses to bear, and that we must identify with Christ's death to partake in his resurrection.
3. GOD'S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT
In every painful circumstance, we have an opportunity to allow it to take us deeper into an understanding of God's grace. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! Phil 4:13. Paul had been talking about dealing with all types of life situations, both bad and good. Loneliness is included in such life circumstances. God's grace can strengthen us in the inner man, and help us to face another day, despite our feelings.
4. Rely on God's WORD and HIS PRESENCE, Not your emotions
This is something I have learned through personal experience. Having spent quite a bit of my recent years surrounded by people, yet feeling lonely at times, I have had to learn (the HARD WAY) that GOD IS A PERSON TOO!!! Oftentimes my tendency was to wallow in my emotions and forget that God was right there, trying to talk to me and to show me that HE understands me, even when the people that surround me do not. In those moments, when I read verses from the Bible like Hebrews 13:5 :
“I will never leave you nor forsake you”,
I had to accept what the words were saying , at least mentally, until I could accept them emotionally. It was only when I surrendered my emotions to the word of God that He would shine a light into my heart and bring a true emotional understanding of what He had said in His word, and my feelings of loneliness would dissipate.
5. Persevere and Keep reaching out
You may be tempted at times to give up entirely on connecting with people, and on God's purpose for your life, especially if you feel like God owes you happiness for your obedience. I challenge you, however, to remember that our chief achievement in life is not happiness, but holiness, and that our rewards in the next life, if we persevere, will make the present loneliness seem like a small thing.
Continue reaching out to the people around you, because you never know if that next person that you reach out to may be the like mind that you seek, or can connect you to like minds. After all, God does not place upon us more than we can bear, and if He knows you desperately need the companionship, He just might send it!