February 8, 2023
Letting Go of Lonely
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"O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you." Psalm 38:9 (ESV)
Reaching for the tub of ice cream in the freezer, I settled for a movie night to soothe my lonely soul. But extra calories and escaping into someone else's story could not satisfy the ache in my heart.
Loneliness was still waiting for me the next morning. Comfort food was not what my soul needed. I needed God to be my comfort.
Loneliness relentlessly followed me wherever I went - because it was in my mind. Loneliness surrounded me even in a crowded room and made me feel like everyone knew I was alone.
Then I saw her. Another lonely woman like me: Hagar. Running away from her lonely, harsh circumstances, she found herself alone in the desert yet seen by God. "You are the God who sees me ..." she said (Genesis 16:13, NIV).
Then God sent her right back to the lonely place she came from. (Genesis 16:9)
What?! (Insert tire screech.)
That kind of deliverance does not make sense to me. I feel God's rescue should have removed her from the lonely place she escaped and should have surrounded her with people who loved her. But there in that holy, lonely place, Hagar let go of loneliness and held on to God.
God's deliverance is often through life's pain rather than around it.
What can we learn from this? Loneliness is not a place. It is a state of mind. God wants to meet us in our loneliness just like He met Hagar.
God's deliverance wasn't just that He saw her; it was that Hagar was no longer alone. God's presence gave her strength to return to a hard place. She could live loved, knowing God was enough.
Similarly, King David knew God saw him in his suffering too. His friends had abandoned him, but God hadn't. David wrote our key verse, which says:
"O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you" (Psalm 38:9).
David did not give in to his loneliness. He fought through it by crying out to God and found himself comforted.
So how does being seen and known by God help us?
We are never alone.
We are significant.
We are accepted unconditionally.
We are loved by God.
Living loved isn't a matter of location or situation - it is a matter of the mind that impacts our souls.
Now, rather than feeling lonely, I feel cherished. Lonely moments are now embraced places of solitude where I run and hide away with God. I have learned that nothing can comfort me like being still in His presence.
And I've also learned that loneliness is not dependent upon a relationship status. We can be lonely when we are single or married, divorced or widowed. Loneliness is not a respecter of persons.
But, friend, the good news is that our loneliness is seen by God. So we are never truly alone. Let's live loved - because we are.
Jesus, I know You see me and love me. Help me let go of loneliness so I can live loved and help others live loved too. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 25:16, "Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted." (ESV)
How do you tend to cope with loneliness? How does it help to know God sees you? Today, sit in solitude with Jesus and His Word, and ask Him to meet you there.
We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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