This is the third part of Gabe Lee’s blog series about loneliness.
If loneliness itself is not a sin but instead points to a deeper sin issue, then how do we diagnose our struggles with loneliness so that we can address that sin issue? I will attempt to answer this specific question here.
Why Am I Feeling Lonely?
I believe that loneliness is the emotional layer that stems from a deeper sin issue. It amplifies the shame and guilt that comes from that sin. Hence, we naturally hate loneliness because of that very reason — We do not want to deal with the condemnation of our hearts.
The problem is that most of us are tempted to blame loneliness as the problem. Loneliness is not the problem. Loneliness is an effect of the problem. Sin is the problem. And loneliness amplifies the negative emotions that stem from that sin issue. While this may sound discouraging, we should be encouraged that we can deal with the pain of loneliness because we can deal with the sin issue beneath it all through Scripture. Loneliness opens up a window of opportunity for us to address our hearts.
Understanding The Heart Of Loneliness
The first step to diagnosing your struggle with loneliness is by asking yourself several good, deep, and painful questions. Here are a few suggestions:
- What do you fear most in your loneliness?
- What do you expect from your friends and family in their relationship with you?
- If you are to share about how lonely you are, what are you afraid of revealing?
- In your loneliness, what do you long for the most?
- In your loneliness, are you angry or bitter at your circumstance? What is it that causes that bitterness?
These are all preliminary questions for understanding your heart. As you dig through your heart, the main question you eventually want to answer is this: Who or what is controlling or causing your pain? Right here, you will begin to see that the problem with loneliness is really idolatry. In fact, I would argue that most, if not all, negative emotions and pain out there stem from the sin of idolatry. It is up to you and your diagnosis to find that idol.
Take a look at some of these reasons for loneliness:
- Fear of judgment (Fear of man)
- Dissatisfied relationships (Lack of contentment)
- Longing for someone to care deeply about them (Seeking fulfillment in human relationships)
- Bitterness in current relational status (Anger towards others)
- Feeling like no one understands (Placing self above God)
All of these are valid reasons. Even though I am being objective about this, I recognize that these pains and fears are rooted deeply in us. I know loneliness hurts. And I hurt with you. But it would not be loving of me to stay down in the pits of loneliness with you. Let us look at Scripture to pull us out.
The Biblical Response to Loneliness
And by God’s grace, Scripture addresses each one of these issues. Take a look:
- Matthew 10:26–33 points people to fear God, who can destroy body and soul, over fearing man.
- In Matthew 6:25–34, Jesus tells his listeners to seek first the kingdom of God and be content in all things.
- John 15:4–6 teaches us to find our fulfillment in our relationship with Christ.
- Ephesians 4:26–27 deals specifically with how to combat our anger.
- Psalm 139 describes the omniscience of God, who knows and understands everything about our emotions, thoughts, and lives.
Loneliness is hard. Digging deeper into the emotions that lurk beneath our loneliness is even harder. Many times, we struggle with loneliness because being alone brings us face-to-face with those fears and anxieties. But take strength, friends! Christ has redeemed you and your emotions. Fill yourself with the Holy Spirit. And use the Scripture to battle the evil in your hearts. Trust in the truths found in Scripture. Trust in the written Word of God. God’s Word is sufficient to address our every need (2 Timothy 3:16–17). That is a gift that we should never forsake.