Where Is God in Times of Loneliness?

Where Is God in Times of Loneliness?

The United States is suffering from a loneliness epidemic. According to the 2018 U.S. Loneliness Index, nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone or left out. The same survey revealed one in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people or feel like there are people they can talk to.

Loneliness can sometimes be physical. We may be isolated in our own home. Some may be confined to a hospital bed, a prison cell or somewhere far away from loved ones. However, loneliness is not just bound by geography. It is possible to be surrounded by friends, and still feel desperately lonely. The mind can become its own prison of intruding thoughts, negativity and anxiety. Who will understand the inward battlefield? We can feel loneliness physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually.

In times where loneliness is felt acutely, we may ask “where are you God?” Psalm 42:9-10 says, ‘“Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” The cry of this psalm comes from one who feels forgotten and is taunted by others in the midst of their pain “all day long.” They are in physical distress, as well as afflicted by the words of those against them.

In times of suffering, loneliness can become more unbearable. Longing for the comfort of others, and especially the presence of God, is achingly apparent. It is important in these times to hold onto the truth that God is sovereign over all, and He indwells believers by His Spirit. Whatever our outward or inward struggles with loneliness, as difficult as they are, we must cling to the amazing truth that God is with us (Matthew 1:23).

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Lonely, yet Never Forsaken

Silhouette of a man sitting alone, looking out at a city

If we begin to doubt the proximity of God to us, it can leave us feeling more cut off than ever before. Yet, only one person who ever walked the earth experienced forsakenness from God the Father, and that was Jesus Christ.

Jesus cried out to His Father from the cross as His very own bones would have suffered “mortal agony.” He cried, ““Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) in Matthew 27:46. It was Christ’s forsakenness which enables us to draw near to God today. Equally, it was Jesus who took our sin upon Himself on the cross – the full weight of human sin upon His perfect, sinless flesh. He became like us so we could become like Him. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

At times when we feel lonely, wondering where God is, we can cast our mind to the cross to remind ourselves of the depths that He went to bring us to Himself. We can be comforted that by the power of the Holy Spirit, He is with us today. We can be confident in hope that Jesus is risen, alive and seated at His Father’s right hand. He lives to intercede for us. Hebrews 7:24-25 says, “because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.” We have a Savior who saves us to the uttermost and continues to act on our behalf before the Father.

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Prayer in Times of Loneliness

A young woman praying outside

When we experience times of loneliness, we can see it as an invitation to come before the King of glory. Our concerns, worries, fears and feelings matter to Jesus. We need not ponder our plight alone, but rest in the promise that we can bring our burdens to Him. The Bible teaches that we can cast our burdens on the Lord and He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22). We are to cast all of our anxieties onto Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Pray to Him. Talk, sing, lament, cry. Pour it all before God because He cares and promises to sustain us through it. Prayer is the most practical way to bring this loneliness before God. He is with us in every moment, for He neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4) and He promises to never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Hebrews 13:5).

For those who do not know God and experience loneliness, God can seem distant or non-existent. The truth is we are completely in darkness without Jesus. This world needs the hope and truth of the good news of Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension. Jesus is seated at His Father’s right hand, but has sent His Spirit to indwell believers on the earth. He has made a way for all to come to know Him. When we come to Him, in repentance and faith, He hears us. Whilst we were still sinners and we were enemies of God, that was the moment Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). No one is beyond His grace, mercy and love.

We may not be able to change our circumstances or feelings. But we can trust Jesus to meet us in our loneliness. If we come before Him, trusting that He is the God who came into our broken world to save, we are never truly alone. Jesus knows what it is to be abandoned by His followers and to be cut off from the Father as He bore the wrath of sin. Yet, He has made a way out of utter darkness, emptiness and total disconnect from God. In our loneliness, there is always hope because of Jesus.

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Making the Most in Seasons of Loneliness

Man writing in a journal

It is very easy to look inward when we feel the ache of loneliness. There is also the temptation to get drawn into all manner of different things to distract ourselves from our feelings in these times. But there can be opportunities in seasons of loneliness that we may not experience without going through this particular trial.

Know Jesus more and give Him the praise and glory.

Spend time in the Word of God which speaks, encourages and builds up. It is for all seasons of life and God speaks through it. Pray to be strengthened and enabled to walk through this time with eyes fixed firmly on Jesus.

Spend time memorizing truth and filling your mind up with the very words of God.

The mind is often the battleground where genuine feelings of loneliness can then spiral into very unhelpful thoughts. Remind yourself of who God is and how loved you are by Him. Think upon the goodness, beauty and truth of the verses. Meditate on them throughout the day. Put them up around the house, flick to them in a notebook, make a scrapbook of truth, fill the room with music and worship to the God who promises to never leave or forsake you.

Remember men and women in the Bible who experienced loneliness.

There are many examples in Scripture that would have resulted in times of loneliness. Hagar and Ishmael were sent away by Abraham (Genesis 21). Jacob’s first wife Leah had to face the pain of seeing her husband love Rebekah more than her (Genesis 29). Elijah fled for his life to the wilderness thinking he was the only one left contending for truth (1 Kings 19). David also ran for his life saying, “Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul” (Psalm 142:4).

In the New Testament, we can read of the deep loneliness of the Lord in Gethsemane as His friends could not keep watch and pray, but instead fell asleep (Matthew 26:40). There was the woman who had bled for 12 years and desperately reached for the hem of Christ’s garment to be healed (Luke 8:43-48). She would have been ostracized in society. Yet in every situation, the Lord’s purposes came to pass and He helped those in need.

Look for opportunities to serve or bless others.

Maybe that looks like calling someone, writing a letter, preparing a care package, or cooking a meal for someone in need. There will be someone who will be lifted up, and in the same way, our own heart will be encouraged as we look to love our neighbor.

Start a gratitude journal.

Just like the Israelites remembered key parts of God’s hand in rescuing them, we can remember the deeds of the Lord (Psalm 77:11-12). It could be a helpful activity to carry around a small notebook and jot down mercies in the everyday. Our lives are filled with many small mercies, put there by our wonderful God (James 1:17). It might be helpful to ask for a spirit of thankfulness, even in loneliness. Press forward in faith, counting the blessings scattered throughout the ordinariness of the day. 

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Ruth Clemence 1200x1200Ruth Clemence is a wife, mom, writer and award-winning blogger based in Cardiff, Wales. Read more at: ruthclemence.com and follow her on Twitter: @ruth_the_writer.