Loneliness is an ever-growing issue for young people. We live in a world where many individuals seem and feel like they are connected, but are truly living in isolation. Social media and an increasingly digital world have made it easy for us to distance ourselves from real community. In addition, there is a growing movement claiming that Church is not necessary to follow Jesus, and that we can be Christians without committing to a faith community. Combine all that with the natural and ever-present brokenness that taints our relationships and the world around us, and we discover that feeling loneliness at some point in our lives is almost inevitable.
When feeling lonely, it is easy to spiral downwards into an inward world full of despair, anxiety, and sadness. It is essential that we recognize our loneliness and begin to ask ourselves why we are feeling the way that we are. Understanding the root of our loneliness can help us to tackle it at the source and take practical next steps. Ultimately, we must pursue Jesus in the midst of our loneliness. In doing so, it is helpful to allow Him to “search [us] and know [our] heart[s]” so that we might see where loneliness has come from and ask Him to make us satisfied in Him (Psalm 139:23).
If you are struggling with loneliness, take a moment to honestly answer and reflect on these questions.
Are you invested in a local Biblical community?
- If the answer to this question is no, then it is vital that you find a local Church that is following Jesus and faithfully preaching the Word of God and then I would suggest you get plugged right into it. We were never meant to live the Christian faith in isolation. Trying to do so is not only completely contrary to the example of the Church given to us in Scripture, but it is a recipe for disaster. You will feel lonely if you are not investing in the Biblical community around you.
- Find a Church, and get involved. Don’t just attend on Sunday mornings, but make an effort to get to know the people in your congregation. Join a small group. Attend prayer meetings. Invite other Christians to your home. Pray for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Just do something to go beyond you and get involved in a Gospel-centered Biblical community. It is within relationships that we work out this crazy, radical, amazing faith to which we have been called.
If there is not a Biblical community near you, are you making an effort to start one?
- Maybe you are not involved in a local Church or Biblical community, but it isn’t for lack of desire. You just can’t find one. I remember going to college for the first time and realizing that, even though we were at a Christian institution, there was not a group of believers around me that was committed to praying for each other, carrying one another’s burdens, and challenging one another to radically give up everything to follow Jesus. Did that mean I had a free pass to live in solitude and enjoy shallow relationships for 4 years? No!
- When we find ourselves lonely because there is no Biblical community around us, it is our responsibility to invest in people and build that community. This is challenging…but it is also rewarding. As you begin leading others in studying the Scriptures, prayer, and discipleship, a community begins to develop. If it doesn’t exist yet where you are, make an effort to create it.
Are there any difficult circumstances that you have recently been walking through?
- Sometimes our loneliness is caused by the loss of a loved one, the breaking of a close relationship, or the sudden shifting of life circumstances. It’s okay to feel sad and lonely when these things have happened. Depending on what this circumstance is, it may be wise to visit a Christian counselor or talk with someone who loves Jesus and has been in your shoes. Jesus sees you where you are, and He will walk beside you in the midst of every circumstance. Rather than burying or ignoring this pain, let your loneliness drive you to seek God in an even deeper way. He can satisfy every need and heal every hurt.
Are you feeling lonely because of your relationship status?
- Maybe you are single…but desperately don’t want to be. Many young adults find themselves in this category. It is easy to feel lonely while single. I think that it is important to recognize, however, that romantic relationships do not provide ultimate fulfillment. While there is something beautiful and meaningful to finding a person to share the rest of your life with, that person will never entirely satisfy you. If you are desperately lonely in singleness, simply finding a significant other will not address the root of the problem. We must first and foremost seek Jesus, and allow ourselves to be satisfied in Him. He will walk with you providing comfort and companionship. He will also love you in ways that no other person can. Let Christ satisfy the desire of your hearts. He is the most faithful friend we could ever find, and He is committed to us eternally.
Are you seeking Jesus daily?
- If the answer to this question is no – stop reading, and seek Jesus. Jesus is the center of the Christian faith, and He beckons us to relationship with Him. It is in union with Christ that we discover fulfillment. He knows us, He delights in us, He walks beside us, and He will never leave us. If you will let Him, Christ will become your closest friend and confidant. Pray, dig into Scripture, and spend time with Him. He is ultimately the only source that will heal your lonely heart. Our hearts were made to communion with God, and if we aren’t doing so…it makes sense that we would feel unsettled. Seek Jesus. Every day.
If you are doing all of these things, and you are still feeling lonely or depressed, I would greatly encourage you to seek a Godly, Christian counselor or older brother/sister in Christ to walk beside you. There is no shame in asking for help, and sometimes the issue is beyond what we can understand or address by ourselves. In any situation, however, there is hope! God is able and desiring to meet us each personally in the midst of our loneliness and be our joy, hope, and satisfaction.