Intense feelings of loneliness can be so overwhelming it could lead to alcoholism, drug abuse, even suicide. If it drags on for weeks, it would be best to seek the help of a Christian counselor. The world seems so crowded in the 21st century, especially because of the internet, one might ask, how could anyone feel alone? First, it should be noted upfront that some feelings of loneliness are appropriate at certain times. For example, the husband is away on a business trip, or a child heads off to college, or the elderly husband or wife is left at home while the other has to go to a nursing home.

Some believe that “if I just surround myself with friends and family members, I will get over this bout of loneliness.’ While this may provide a measure of distraction, it does not always solve the problem, because there is a void, something is missing. We cannot spend time with friends every minute of every day. Some have even made the error of believing that marriage would be the answer, so they rush into a marriage, which ends up as a life of loneliness, as a married person. One has to conquer the missing component of his or her loneliness before that can enjoy the relationship of another.

The Correct Mindset

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The Bible does offer its readers, who correctly apply its counsel, practical advice on how to cope with loneliness. While we have all felt the pain of loneliness, some more so than others, being alone is not necessarily equal to loneliness. Even Jesus wanted some alone time, Matthew 14:13 tells us that Jesus ‘withdrew to a secluded place to be by himself.’ He wanted the alone time to rest from the crowds, to meditate and pray.

Mark 6:31 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

31 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to an isolated place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.[1]

If our circumstances have us living alone, we not view it from a lonely perspective. What we tell ourselves in our self-talk about our being alone, will develop into how we feel. What we need to do is view our alone time, as a blessing from God, and take a few moments, reflecting on how we use our alone time. Are we simply looking for ways to fill the time, before our next encounter with people? Alternatively, we could contemplate on how we might better use this alone time, to make the most out of it.

We can use our alone time, to take care of our responsibilities around the house. If we work hard all day, we can use some of our alone time to recharged physically, emotionally, and spiritually, by taking a long hot bath, planning a movie and a snack that is mentally encouraging and healthy. We can use some of our alone time, for personal Bible study, to prepare for Christian meetings. The apostle Paul tells us “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12.

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True Friends

Proverbs 18:24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

24 A man of many friends will be broken in pieces,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

While alone time is great for getting things done, digging into the Word of God, and rebooting for the next day, we were designed for companionship. In other words, humans were designed to be people persons. While being with a group, having a good time, can be refreshing, it need not always be a group to set aside feelings of loneliness. It can simply be a few close friends, who help you see that you are truly not alone.

There are some, who struggle to make friends. We may want to do a little self-examination, as to why we struggle to acquire friends and maintains that friend after that. Some want an enormous amount out of friendship while they do not reciprocate hardly anything in return. These ones suck the very life out of a friendship because they are excessively needy. They tend to isolate themselves until they cannot stand it any longer, and then call on a friend, to which they go on and on in a rapid-fire conversation about one problem after another.

Proverbs 18:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks forth against all sound wisdom.

If we are suffering from loneliness, we may want to start with self-examination. What am I doing with my downtime? How can I use it more wisely? How can I look at it in a different light? Who are my real friends, and am I giving them as much as I am getting? Do I demonstrate that I am as interested in them, as they are in me? Alternatively, Do I tend to focus all of the attention on myself? If we are to disrupt the phase of loneliness, we will have to become more of a giver, and less of a receiver.

Philippians 2:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests,[2] but also for the interests of others.

Looking out for our own interests comes naturally. We need, and receive, no instruction for that. We are instructed to look out for the interests of others. We are to keep an eye out to discover ways we can help others even when they do not see they need such help. The apostle stated in Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”[3]

If we were to “look out for” the interests of others, this would include an emotional and spiritual reflection of or plotting for the best time to demonstrate our interest in them. Thus, we can consider our family, our friends, and congregation members, reflecting on their needs, plotting how we might fill those needs. If all of us look out for the needs of others, be it mental, emotional, physical or spiritual needs; then, others will meet our needs.

If we are to have a close, intimate friend, we must first be a close, intimate friend. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you … For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38) In addition, the apostle Paul says Jesus said, “‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’”–Acts 20:35

We are Never Ever Truly Alone

Matthew 5:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

“Blessed[4] are the poor[5] in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.

In any century, a poor person has little reason to be happy, based on outward circumstances. Jesus, however, clarified in the first words of his sermon that he was not speaking of physical poverty, but spiritual poverty—poor in spirit. The beginning of repentance is the recognition of one’s spiritual bankruptcy—one’s inability to become righteous on one’s own. The blessing or happiness that belongs to the poor in spirit is because such a person is, by his admission, already moving toward participating in God’s kingdom plan, acknowledging his need for a source of salvation outside himself. Old Testament uses of this concept would have been familiar to Jesus’ listeners and Matthew’s readers. (Familiar Scriptures would have included Pss. 40:17; 69:29–30, 33–34; Isa. 57:15; 61:1; 66:2, 5.)[6]

Yes, we need to be aware of our spiritual needs. We were created with the need of developing a friendship with our Creator. One thing is for certain, humans may fail us, but God never will. Therefore, we can feel secure in that friendship, like no other. Jesus said,

John 16:32 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.

Our friendship with God can quench our loneliness. However, this will not be the case, if we treat God like was stated above, expecting him to be the only giver in the friendship. We must develop the friendship with God, by getting to know him, to draw closer to him.

Psalm 34:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Oh, taste and see that Jehovah is good!
Happy[7] is the man who takes refuge in him!

John 17:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ

While the above counsel can get one out of the pits of loneliness, it is paramount that we seek help, if we are falling deeper and deeper into depression, especially if we have had thoughts of hurting ourselves.[8]

Review Questions

  • How serious is intense loneliness?
  • What mistaken belief about loneliness do some have?
  • What is the correct mindset that we should have when it comes to loneliness?
  • How does the Bible describe a true friend?
  • If we struggle to make friend, why is a little self-examination important?
  • What does the Bible say about isolating oneself? What questions should we ask ourselves?
  • How does looking out for the interests of others help us?
  • Why are we truly never alone?
  • Why is all of this only temporary in the grand scheme of things?

[1] With this verse, Mark resumes his narrative about the disciples whom Jesus had sent out. The disciples returned and they had an exciting tale to tell. But the crowds were increasing by such large numbers (partly due to the disciples’ actions) that they had not even had a chance to eat. The large crowds suggest that Jesus and his disciples were probably in Capernaum.

Jesus knew how tiring ministry can be. He knew what it felt like to heal people, to have the press of the crowds upon him, to preach from town to town until his voice was hoarse, to get so caught up in God’s business that daily needs were forgotten. His compassion reached out to the disciples, and he encouraged them to come away from the crowds to get some rest. – (Cooper 2000, 105)

[2] Lit not the (things) of themselves each (ones).

[3] http://biblia.com/books/hntc69ga/Php2.4

[4] I.e. fortunate or prosperous

[5] “Blessed are those who [are poor in spirit] recognize they are spiritually helpless …” (GOD’S WORD Translation) The Greek word ptochos means “beggar.” The “poor in spirit” is an alternative literal rendering. The meaning is that the “beggar/poor in spirit” is aware of his or her spiritual needs, as if a beggar or the poor would be aware of their physical needs.

[6] http://biblia.com/books/hntc61mt/Mt5.3

[7] Happy, blessed is: (Heb. asre; Gr. makarios) Asre occurs 11 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and makarios 50 times in the Greek New Testament. Happiness and being highly favored by God characterize this joy. It is speaking of a person who is content, full of joy. This is not to be confused with the Hebrew word barak which means, “to bless,” as in a divine blessing. The Hebrew barak and the Greek eulogeo is the act of being blessed, while the Hebrew asre and Greek makarios is the state or condition of the person who is being blessed, who is a highly favored one. – 1 Ki 10:8; Ps 1:1; 119:1-2; Pro. 14;21; 16:20; Matt. 5:3-11; 11:6; 13:16; Lu 1:45; John 13:17; 20:29; Ac 20:35; Rom. 4:7-8 to mention just a few.

[8] http://www.aacc.net/‎