When a hurting mother wrote me recently about the pain of loneliness she was struggling with, I longed to comfort and encourage her heart. She was a godly woman, and she knew the Lord had promised never to leave or forsake her, but she couldn't shake the feelings of loneliness and rejection that were weighing heavily upon her. She described how everyone in her family was always "so busy." They rarely had enough time to spend with her, but they always seemed to have ample time for their friends and their own interests. They were all so busy "doing their own thing" that it never occurred to them how much their loved one desperately needed their time and attention.
The first thing I told this woman is that it's never the Lord's will for us to feel sorry for ourselves, because it keeps us focused on our hurts and wounds, and prevents us from receiving God's help and healing. I also told her that self-pity is often a result of looking in the wrong places for our needs to be met. The fact is that the Lord does not want us looking to people to provide our needs. God wants us to look to Him, and Him only, even where our emotional and social needs are concerned. He may choose to use other people to meet some of those needs, but it's never His will for us to depend upon those people. Relying on others for our needs will only cause us to have unreasonable expectations for them. This would not only offend the Lord, but would ultimately harm our relationships. What about the times when our expectations for others are reasonable and right in God's sight? Those are the times when we can pray for them to acknowledge their responsibilities, and to respond accordingly. However, if they continue to refuse to do what is right in God's sight, we must trust Him to deal with their disobedience His way. The sad truth is that they will eventually reap what they sow, and when they are the ones in need, the Lord will be less inclined to respond to their pleas for help. As Proverbs says so plainly, "Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need." (Proverbs 21:13 NLT)
When I'm struggling with feelings of loneliness, I find that it helps to share my true feelings with the Lord. I don't sugarcoat my thoughts or emotions, but I tell Him plainly what I really think. He knows it all anyway, but laying it all out in the open before Him draws me closer to Him, and to His solution to the problem. I ask Him for the desires of my heart in the situation, but I leave the final outcome in His hands, knowing that He's a just and fair God, and that He always has my best interests in mind. I've discovered that it can help to try to find others who need encouragement and comfort, and to reach out to them with the love of God. As we reach out to others, the Lord sends others to reach out to us. Reaching out to others can be healing. And even if it's draining at times, as we pour ourselves into others, God will pour Himself into us, refreshing and reviving us. As Scripture says, "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)
Jesus experienced the pain of loneliness and rejection, so He is able to sympathize with us in our struggles. He told His disciples, His dearest loved ones: "But the time is coming--in fact, it is already here--when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me." (John 16:32 NLT) When our own loved ones are "going [their] own way" and "leaving [us] alone," we can take comfort in the fact that God's presence is always with us, and we can say with complete confidence, "Thank You, Lord, that You are with me."
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times when I was left feeling all alone, and I neglected to acknowledge Your abiding presence and Your constant love. When I'm tempted to rely on others for the meeting of my needs, help me to shift my focus from them to You. Thank You that as I resist self-pity and self-absorption--and as I reach out to those in need--You will comfort, encourage, and heal me!
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