A few years ago, my world suddenly changed. My husband passed away unexpectedly and overnight my life became very different. It was a great shock and for a time I couldn’t think and act normally, and had to lean on the help and the prayers of my family and friends.
After a while things became clearer and I had to deal with many new things, including learning to be alone. I suddenly realised that for the first time in many years I was not part of a “couple”! Now there was nobody waiting for me at home, no one to talk to at home. I found that I was lonely.
The lonely feelings would come like waves of panic, sometimes caused by being at a wedding, memories of how it used to be, or other such things. I had to learn to deal with them, but how?
What does the Bible say about loneliness?
King David also experienced great loneliness and feeling forgotten. But he was not only a warrior on the battlefield; he also fought for his faith! He cried out to God and received power and hope to go on, as he said in Psalm 25:16-21 (NCV):
“Turn to me and have mercy on me, because I am lonely and hurting. My troubles have grown larger; free me from my problems. Look at my suffering and troubles, and take away all my sins. Look at how many enemies I have! See how much they hate me! Protect me and save me. I trust you, so do not let me be disgraced. My hope is in you, so may goodness and honesty guard me.”
Instead of blaming God or wondering “Why me?” David went to God in his loneliest moments. I also needed to battle spiritually to get that same power and help that pulled David out of his hopelessness.
Alone or lonely?
Being alone and being lonely are not the same thing. I can be alone, and be happy and content; and I can be lonely even amongst a lot of people. I realised that I felt lonely because jealousy, bitterness, and self-pity were troubling me with thoughts like, “Everyone else is with others. I am the only one alone and by myself.” But I knew I should resist such thoughts and not allow them in my heart and life. So I did as it is written in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (CEB) and captured ”every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.
Other verses such as Philippians 4:6 (NLT) that reads, “Don’t worry about anything,” had helped me in the past to redirect my thoughts, so I took hold of a thankfulness verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which says, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” If I want to be thankful I need to surrender my own will, and accept that it is God who is in control, not I.
“In everything give thanks” - that means just that: if I feel left out, if I feel sorry for myself, if I feel mistreated in any way – it doesn’t matter what the situation is! I can truly say “Thank you, Jesus" for this situation, because that is the will of God for me! That is what I want – to do God’s will as long as I live!
Thankfulness is the greatest weapon
Sometimes I need to say a bit more than just a simple “thank you”, like “Lord, I am sad today as it would have been our anniversary.” Then I start thanking Him for all the many years we did have together. Or, “Lord, I am feeling sorry for myself as others are too busy to be with me.” Then I add, “Thank you, Jesus for all the precious friends You have given me.” Then I name them, pray for them, and ask God to bless them and to help them with whatever needs they may have.
I have experienced time and time again that when I really make an effort to be thankful, saying No to all the negative thoughts, the sadness and loneliness go away after some time, and I am left with thankfulness. Because someone who is thankful cannot at the same time feel sorry for himself. And I am happy to say that this weapon: “In everything give thanks” – still helps me every day.