There’s No Shame in Loneliness
It’s one of the most dreaded “L” words in the English language: loneliness.
Let’s just get right to it: we all struggle with loneliness at times. Whether that’s moving to a new city, state or even country where you don’t speak the language (as I’ve done a few times), starting a new job, going to a new school, or going through something you don’t think you can talk to anyone about or don’t think they’d understand, loneliness is something that will affect us all at some point in our lives.
Even Jesus felt lonely. While many of us remember He was tempted by Satan in the desert, we sometimes forget that, before then, He was alone in the desert for a whole 40 days. And let’s not forget what Jesus said when He was being crucified on the cross: “Eli, Eli lama sabachthani?” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). With His disciples fleeing as He was being slowly and painfully murdered – and God the Father not sending a host of angels to come and save Him (though, of course, this is also because Jesus had to be crucified for our sins to be forgiven) – it’s hard to imagine any greater feelings of abandonment.
Outside the Bible, even some of the people we look up to the most for their closeness with Christ battled loneliness. Martin Luther wrote much of his 95 theses while he was alone. In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about how discrimination and segregation made people feel like they were living on a “lonely island.” Even Mother Teresa talked about struggling with loneliness at times during her missionary work and during periods of serious illness – how she felt abandoned and had lost her closeness to others and to God.
Summary: we all sometimes feel we’re all alone, regardless of who we are or how famous we might be.
Such situations may seem hopeless, but whenever we think we’re alone, God reminds us that, in fact, we’re not – because He is everywhere. No matter how hopeless we think the situation is – be it physically, spiritually or emotionally – God is with us.
As with just about everything, we need only to look to the Bible for proof of how God stays with us. When Elijah was down in a ravine all by himself – and no-one to help him get out – ravens brought him food. When Paul was shipwrecked in Malta, he was introduced to caring locals whose hearts were opened to Jesus and took care of Paul. When Daniel was in the lions’ den, God was looking out for him, even if Daniel was probably feeling incredibly alone and terrified in being surrounded by hungry lions. Time and time again when Jesus walked into towns during His ministry, people He had never met before opened their homes and let Him stay with them. Even Jonah was looked after by God when he was alone inside a whale, despite the fact that Jonah was inside the whale in the first place as a punishment from God for ignoring His commandment to go to Nineveh and tell the people there to repent of their sins.
A lot has been written about how we can combat loneliness by opening ourselves up to others, by getting involved in our communities, and pursuing activities we’re passionate about and interested in as a way to make friends and connect with others (regardless of how extroverted or introverted we are). But the easiest solution might be to open ourselves to God.
How easy are we talking? All we need to do is pray, to read the Bible, and to ask God to reveal Himself to us and be with us. And He will always answer our prayers in His own way.
We are never alone. Because God never leaves us.
After living for several years in Europe, Ben pursued a lifelong dream and moved to New Zealand. An Auckland-based writer, his work has appeared in The Washington Post, Business Insider, The New Zealand Herald, Idealog, Deutsche Welle, and more. He can be found on Twitter @benmack_nz.