It’s rare that people will come right out and share that they are lonely. Perhaps, for some, it might seem needy—and unfortunately neediness is a taboo in our society. Yet, didn’t Jesus come for the needy? And, if we are honest, we are all needy. We are all longing for something else, something better. We have eternity planted on our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We know that there’s a better future ahead. Something lasting. Our understanding that this is not our home can motivate us to be honest about our loneliness.
That longing you may feel isn’t a sign of defeat, rather it’s evidence of a better and true citizenship; we are all eagerly waiting until the day of our Savior’s return. The Apostle Paul wrote of this longing as he encouraged the Philippian church to imitate those walking in the faith: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20). When our eyes are fixed on eternity, we can run the race with endurance. We know that he will transform us into His likeness. We know that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Our hope, our only hope, is to be found in Him.
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28).
Oh, what good news. Jesus has made a way for our loneliness to end. He died in our place and will return to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. If you are discouraged by your loneliness, know that your longing will one day be fulfilled as you are consummated to your Savior. Forever—this is forever.
Caring for the Lonely
But perhaps you are not lonely but you desire to care for those who are struggling with loneliness. As someone who is generally joyful and often with people, it can be assumed that I never struggle with loneliness. I do. My loneliness often comes in the form of realizing I’m the only one—typically the only African American in a room or the only woman. I’ve learned to see and experience God in my surroundings and circumstances but that doesn’t mean I’m never lonely. I long for more people like me in my various contexts, I do. But God has also given me friends who care well for me. Here are a few ways you can, too:
1. Be there
Our presence matters. Being available to your friends as much as possible helps the lonely. Ask God to help you become a welcoming person, not making others feel like a burden. That doesn’t mean you must drop your responsibilities. Having an open door and an ear as needed is a gift to the lonely. And often it’s not your presence but the mere fact that he or she knows there’s a place they can go that helps.
2. Guard against assumptions
As mentioned earlier, loneliness comes in various forms. Don’t assume that because someone is busy or married or has children that he or she is not lonely. The presence of an active life doesn’t mean that the person is experiencing meaningful interactions or, as is the case for me at times, feeling like they are a part of it all. Which leads to my last suggestion…
3. Don’t neglect the church
This tip could be said for the lonely person and the person caring for the lonely. If you are attentive to the needs of the church, you will at some point care for the lonely. Meeting together, praying together, encouraging one another, serving together, and the like are a few ways that the Body cares for each other. A side effect of being an active member of the church is it will help fight loneliness.
Jesus satisfies our every need and longing. He gives us himself and provides the grace and contentment needed for this life. But the ultimate cure for our lonely hearts is that moment we see Jesus face-to-face. Until that point, we can do our best to remind one another that a day will come when no one will feel ache and longing and emptiness and lack. We get a beautiful taste of it now as we draw near to Jesus—so let’s draw near and close to Him. But all our longings will be fulfilled in all its glory one day soon.