Have you ever felt lonely? I have. It’s not a very nice emotion, and it’s one that we try really hard to avoid. We fill our days with hobbies and work and social media all in an attempt to hold that feeling of loneliness at bay, and by God’s grace, we fail miserably.
When we feel lonely, we instantly begin looking for something or someone to stop the feeling. Some of us go up to people and start talking. Some of us go sit down and read a book. Some of us pull out our phones. We all cope with loneliness in different ways, but what is the purpose of loneliness? And how does that purpose show us the best way to cope? Can we overcome loneliness?
At the heart of loneliness is a desire to be desired. We want people to like us. I do not believe that the desire to be desired is a result of the fall. We were originally made in the Image of God. We were given some of His traits in a finite way. That being said, God desires your affections, even though He doesn’t need them. In order to receive those affections, He has placed within us that desire, the desire to be desired.
We all understand that absolutely no human on the face of this earth could fully satisfy that desire to be desired. No human on this earth can completely quench our loneliness. That is where Christ steps in. In an infinitely loving and gracious act, Christ died for His people. Suddenly, those of us who are in Christ can see that we are desired! And the cross doesn’t stop there. It not only shows us that we are desired, but it gives us a greater purpose, the purpose of “seeing and savoring Christ” as John Piper puts it. Thus, God’s wrath is satisfied and His name is glorified in part by the quenching of our desire to be desired.
The feeling of loneliness is meant to draw us to Christ. Again, no human being on this earth can satisfy that heart craving to be desired. Only Christ can. Once He comes into your life, He never leaves you. You never have to be lonely again. You may choose to ignore His presence, but He is always there.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
Unfortunately, many people never overcome loneliness, and in the most severe cases, it spirals into depression. The desire God gave us to find rest and fulfillment in Him is used to justify all sorts of evil and self-destructive behavior. Many people who feel lonely combat it with alcohol, but alcohol was not made to take the place of God. Some people fill that void with work, but work was not made to take the place of God either. Anything that takes the place of God is idolatry and will ultimately lead to destruction. Only God in His mercy can deliver us from that pattern of vain fulfillment seeking.
As Christians, we may feel lonely at times, and we will still struggle in combating that feeling. During those times we must continue to run to Christ. We must love Him through His Word, His body (the Church), and prayer. That is how we, as born-again believers, are to deal with loneliness. To run to anything else is still idolatry, and idolatry is sinful and destructive.
Christ Was Lonely
On the cross, something happened that is beyond my comprehension. God turned His back on God. Suddenly, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” In that moment, Christ felt loneliness like it has never been felt before or ever will be felt again. That is love (which just so happens to be tomorrow’s emotion). Remember – only Christ can satisfy our desire to be desired.
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Only Christ can satisfy our desire to be desired.