I attended my first writers’ conference over 5 years ago. One thing that stood out to me was their desperate plea to start and/or keep writing for Christ. Loneliness was an epidemic, and they needed us to join the fight by sharing the love and hope only Jesus can bring. God’s guidance about loneliness in the Bible brings wisdom and practical ways to cope.
Loneliness affects all ages and people groups. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, or where you live; loneliness is prevalent throughout the world.
For me personally, I felt most lonely as a single parent. I had a full-time job with friends at work, a supportive family, and my 2 young children, yet I was still lonely.
What is Loneliness?
Being lonely is a negative state of mind, not just being physically alone. Loneliness is a disconnect between what we want and need in relationships and what we are experiencing. That explains how we can feel lonely in a room full of people.
Loneliness can leave us feeling sad, depressed, easily irritated or angry, and stressed. We feel left out, or that no one really knows us.
Loneliness vs Solitude
Solitude, however, can be a time when we are perfectly happy to be by ourselves. It can give us a much-needed break from our routine and be a time for reflection and restoration.
Jesus sometimes craved solitude. Immense crowds of people came to hear Him and receive healing.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16.
The demands of His life sent him to places of solitude to recharge and be refreshed by prayer.
Was Jesus Lonely?
Yes, lonely Christian, Jesus had lonely times in His life, too. Isn’t it comforting to know that He understands exactly how you are feeling?
The prophet Isaiah describes the Messiah: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3).
Jesus did have times of joy, but He also knew loneliness.
At the time of His arrest and impending death, His disciples scattered and hid, leaving Him alone. Jesus even warns them it will happen: “You will leave me all alone.” John 16:32.
Jesus went through great pain and suffering in His life, but He always had His Father to turn to for support, love, and care. But as He was dying on the cross and accepted the sin of the world upon His shoulders, His Father withdraws.
He had never experienced this horrible separation and loneliness before. He now knew what complete and utter loneliness felt like, and He took on this alienation from God so that we never have to feel lonely again.
Because of Him, and as believers, He considers us members of His family; one who will never leave your side.
What Does the Bible Say about Loneliness?
It doesn’t take long for the topic of loneliness to come up. Right away, in Genesis 2, we see God has found the first thing in His creation that was not good, or very good.
“It is not good for man to be alone.” Genesis 2:18.
Adam needed companionship and another human to relate to. It was never in God’s plan for man to be alone. His plan was for us to have close and meaningful relationships with others.
Bible Stories about Loneliness
Let’s look at more examples of loneliness in the Bible.
For 40 years, Jeremiah faithfully followed the will of God as His prophet. By doing so, however, the people treated him as a social outcast. No one listened or took to heart his prophetic messages.
God instructed him not to marry, so he had no wife or children. God considered his life a pillar of success, however, which did soothe his loneliness. He was courageous, obedient, and faithful to God his entire life.
When the Babylonians finally carried the people away, Jeremiah writes them a letter of hope, which includes these words of God that have sustained people for centuries:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
Even in his loneliness, Jeremiah never stopped encouraging God’s people.
Bible Characters Who Were Alone
Woman With the Issue of Blood in the Bible
We find her story in Mark 5:25-34. She had been bleeding for 12 years. According to Jewish law, if she was bleeding, she was “unclean.” Anything or anyone she touched was unclean. She could not take part in any worship in the synagogue or interact with her family or friends. She felt ostracized and was shut off from society.
The woman did, however, believe in the healing power of Jesus. She believed if she could secretly touch the hem of His cloak, He would heal her. She was desperate to be healed physically and from her loneliness and sought Jesus.
As she discreetly touches His cloak, she is healed. Her faith healed her from all her suffering.
King David of Israel
David was a shepherd, a giant killer, wrote poems, became king, and is an ancestor of Jesus. He also got into quite a bit of trouble. He was an adulterer, a murderer, and a liar. Despite all that, he had a heart for God, which God recognized.
He also experienced many times of loneliness which left him isolated, discouraged and lost. He chronicled those times in the Psalms, which can be very comforting when we are lonely.
Loneliness can affect everyone from the lowly to kings.
The Apostle Paul
Paul lost all his Jewish friends when he converted to Christianity, and needed to start over. Since He was famous for persecuting Christians, it’s no wonder they were afraid of him at first! (Acts 9:26).
Paul left to study and prepare for his ministry; spending about 3 lonely years away in Arabia. He tells us in Galatians that he received his learning not from man, or teaching from others, but by revelation from Jesus.
His entire ministry was a lonely one; spending many months in jail and on home confinement. We know he craved fellowship, asking Timothy to come and visit him. In 2 Timothy 4:16 Paul states, “Everyone deserted me.”
Despite his lonely and difficult life, Paul is known to have shaped the history of Christianity in many significant ways.
These are only three examples of loneliness in the Bible! I could have included Moses, Daniel, Job, Elijah…
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Psalms about Loneliness
David wrote frequently about his bouts of loneliness. Here are just a few of his Psalms:
Psalm 25:16- “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”
Psalm 68:5-6- “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows- this is God in his holy dwelling. God places the lonely in families.” NLT.
Psalm 142:4– “Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.”
Trusting God in Loneliness
The common thread in each of these stories is how God was involved. He was the answer to the loneliness each one faced. He came through for each one of them; in His ways and His timing.
Each lonely person, however, had to turn to God and rely on His love, power, care, timing, and plans.
It took courage, obedience, and deep faith, but they trusted Him completely to work out their challenges of loneliness. These ideals are all still true today.
God created humanity desiring that we would freely love Him in return and be in a relationship with Him. There is a void in our lives that only He can fill.
We saw with the example of Adam that God affirms our need for meaningful human companionship. (That doesn’t always mean a marriage partner; you can feel lonely in a marriage too.)
Ways to Overcome Loneliness
Here are 6 ways to overcome loneliness:
•David was known as “a man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22) He actively and passionately pursued Him. Seek Him first!
•David prayed and poured out his heart to God; praising Him, telling Him about his concerns and worries. He remembered how God had saved him from loneliness in the past, and clung tightly to Him knowing He alone can give refuge and rescue.
•Reach out to a friend or a loving family member. Don’t feel embarrassed to talk about your loneliness. That is our enemy trying to hold you back from a fulfilled life.
•Christian communities should represent God’s love and care. If you have a community, speak with a pastor or staff member and explain what is going on in your life.
•Don’t be afraid to admit to others that you are lonely! You are not alone in this struggle, and this is an important first step to make changes or to meet others that can ease your loneliness.
•When you speak to God about it, ask Him, “God, why am I so lonely?” Ask Him to provide someone to help you overcome your spirit of loneliness. Sit quietly and listen for His answers.
Dealing with Loneliness as a Christian
How would our feelings of loneliness change if we start with the same unshakeable confidence Jesus had?
“Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” John 16:32
Nurturing and cultivating our relationship with Jesus first gives us a firm foundation and building block for our relationship with others. We can then go out in His name to love and serve others.
This helps build a community of people to meet our individual needs. Don’t be afraid to seek opportunities to meet new people.
Bible Verses When You Feel Alone
•“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.” Hebrews 4:16.
That includes a spirit of loneliness! Lay it at His feet knowing our King, our Friend, and our Counselor has compassion for His children. No request is too small or complicated.
•“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10.
He is forever and always by our side.
•“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.” Psalm 27:10 NKJV
God’s love and care go far beyond even our closest human relationships.
•“But you know Him [the Holy Spirit], for He lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:17b.
Let the power of the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you and give you a whole new way to look at life.
Quote about Loneliness
We are more connected than ever through our phones, computers, and social media, yet loneliness remains a major concern. Don’t let loneliness rule over your life or steal your joy.
God created us for relationship- with Himself and others. He wants our relationships to thrive and be a blessing in our lives.
Grow your relationship with our Lord daily, and seek out others. Let the Holy Spirit show you how to live connected and fulfilled!
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
Photo Credit: Canva
2 thoughts on “Loneliness in the Bible”
Loved this, as always. I also love the idea of inviting people outside of your circle of family and friends to celebrate the holidays. We did this once long ago….invited a Chinese family who were alone at Thanksgiving, through a program at church where you’re paired with people who have nowhere to go for the holidays.
Good reminders about Jesus’ loneliness and how He is always there in the middle of ours.
Thanks Cindy 🙂 I sort of remember that story of the Chinese family! The person I invited turned me down, but I think just the fact that we reach out means a great deal.