As a military wife, the holidays leave me feeling lonely every year. Before I moved with my husband, I spent holidays with family and friends in San Diego. I am thankful I have my husband and my friends in Boise, but I miss the rest of my family more than words can express. I am left alone long hours during weekdays and every weekend while the Marines are in the midst of Toys for Tots. I feel that Christmas Day is the only day I get quality time with my husband in the month of December. I imagine how a soldier on the battlefield must feel or his wife left with the children at home for extended periods of time. I pray for our soldiers and their families often because I believe they struggle with loneliness in ways other do not, especially families dealing with deployment.
Do you ever feel lonely? Take heart, for God has spoken of this very issue in the Bible, and He reminds us that we are NEVER alone! Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” In Hebrew the word refuge is “machaceh.” It is used a lot in the Old Testament and its can also mean shelter, hope and trust. Some scholars believe this psalm was written as a song of deliverance after Jerusalem was saved from the siege of Sennacherib, a crowned prince of the Assyrian empire. His army was supposedly wiped out by a plague in 701 BC as they camped outside Jerusalem’s walls. This psalm was the inspiration behind Martin Luther’s song “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” It is known as the Battle Hym of the Reformation, and it most have been an encouragement for all who sung it during the Protestant Reformation. When Satan tries to attack us, we can flee to God for shelter from the storms of this life, including loneliness. When we are weakened and battered, He is our strength. He will carry us through our trials, and in Him we will triumph.
Being alone and lonely are different. When you are alone you are away from the presence of others, and for some this is okay and even desired. When you are lonely, you feel something awful. A dictionary definition says being lonely means you’re sad and desolate. The Hebrew word for lonely – badad – means isolation, separation and forsaken. I would rather be alone than lonely! Be careful when you feel lonely – it can be an instrument Satan uses against you.
Satan does try to attack us through loneliness. The Bible talks about loneliness in its first book. God created both Adam and Eve, so man would not be alone (Genesis 2:18). Satan tempted Eve in the garden and Jesus in the wilderness when they were alone. David often felt alone as his enemies pursued him. Paul felt alone when he was imprisoned. Jesus felt forsaken on the cross when he took on the sins of the world for mankind. Loneliness is a common struggle and our response to it is important. Feelings impact our decisions. Much of a Christian’s battle can be won or lost in their mind.
Some people go to the extreme to fight loneliness. They turn to drugs and alcohol or other dangerous addictions. In many ways, they lose their minds! They end up worse off than before. 2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This involves self control and mastery over our passions. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says we are capable of overcoming temptation and Philippians 2:8 tells us to dwell on what is noble and pure. Romans 12:2 tells us to renew our minds. Psalm 77:12 asks us to consider God’s works and mighty deeds. Proverbs 23:7 sums it up best: “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” And finally, we should be reminded that “the One who examines the thoughts and emotions is a righteous God” (Psalm 7:9).
How can you fight loneliness or other feelings contrary to God? Remember that Psalm 46 says God is ever-present. He is always there for you, and He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). Here are some other verses to read about our ever-present God: Psalm 73:23, 24; Matthew 28: 19-20, Psalm 41:12; Psalm 89:14-16, Psalm 139. Once you acknowledge God’s presence in your situation, ask him to help you! In Jeremiah 33:3 God urges us to call to Him and He will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
Beverly Littau of Cornerstone Counseling has some great tips:
1. The first step is to agree with God that negative thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes are not of Him. Confess them as sin. Ask Him to help you overcome them through His power.
2. Ask God to make you aware of thoughts or underlying beliefs that are driving the negative emotions.
3. When you notice or identify a negative thought–one that does not agree with God’s word— then take that immediately to the Lord. Say, “Lord, the thought I am having is ________ and I confess that thought to you. I submit that thought to the power of Your shed blood and death on Calvary, and ask You to render that thought dead and powerless in me.”
4. Then ask God to replace the negative thought with His truth. Ask Him what His thoughts are. For example, if your negative thought is “No one loves me,” then maybe the truth He will speak to you is that He loves you and He may remind you of others who do too.
5. Thank God for the truth, and meditate on it. Journal it, sing about it, talk about it. Let it work its way down into your heart.
6. Turn from negative thoughts in the same way each time they come up.
7. Remember that when you first start telling yourself the truth, it will feel like a lie. That is because you have believed a lie for so long that it has counterfeited itself as truth. Keep telling yourself the truth, and it will eventually feel like truth.
I hope you are encouraged after reading this post. Jesus loves you so much, and when He died on the cross for you He knew how loneliness felt. He became human so He could understand us better. One of my favorite verses in the whole Bible – Hebrews 4:15, 16 — describes how God can sympathize with us. It says, ” For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”