Lesson 2 - Overcoming Loneliness


Psalm 68:5-6, "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land."


Hebrews 13:5, "God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”


Introduction

Most people encounter loneliness at some point in their life. Schoolchildren want to be accepted by their peers and have friends. Young people want a boyfriend or girlfriend when they see their friends have those types of relationships. Unmarried adults may lose contact with their old friends and feel lonely, especially if many of their friends are married and busy with their own families. Married people are lonely sometimes because their social needs cannot be met entirely by their spouse. Even when we find fulfilling and healthy relationships, we may lose those relationships due to family breakup, death, or other situations.

There are many reasons why we feel lonely, but the good news is that we can overcome loneliness. In order to deal with loneliness in our lives, we need to understand why people are lonely and how we can build meaningful relationships.

God created people to have a relationship with Himself

God created people to be social, to have meaningful relationships, and to share lives with one another. Most importantly, God created people to have a relationship with Him.

The first chapters of Genesis show God created people to have a close, meaningful, day-to-day relationship with them. God gave Adam and Eve responsibility over the plants and animals, and spent time with them face-to-face. But because Adam and Eve listened to the serpent and disobeyed God, sin entered into the world and the relationship between God and people was broken. Actually, this has always been the devil’s intention—to break the relationship between God and people.

So, according to the Bible, people were created to have a relationship with God. People will never feel entirely whole and secure until they restore their relationship with God. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the sin that separates us from God is erased so we can have a close, meaningful relationship with God again, just like Adam and Eve had with God before they sinned. This relationship with God is the most important relationship we can have—more important than any relationship we have with our family, spouse, or friends. You were created to have a relationship with God, and nothing can replace that relationship with Him.

God created people to have relationships with other people

God also created people to have relationships with each other. When God made Adam, He said it was not good for man to be alone, so He made a woman, Eve. Social interaction is one of the necessary elements of life. Everyone needs to love and be loved, and to share their lives with others. It should be no surprise that we need others—God made us that way!

So, if we are made to desire relationships with each other and there are 6 billion people alive, then why do people feel lonely?

When sin entered the world, not only did it ruin the relationship between God and people, but also between people. If we take a look around us, it’s obvious how sin has destroyed what should be natural fellowship between people. The problem is as old as Cain and Abel (see Genesis 4). Sin is why people become jealous, suspicious, fearful, contemptuous, and cruel. Because of sin, we have something broken inside us that prevents us from having immediate, close fellowship with other people.

But when we know God, the thing that is broken inside us starts to heal. Did you ever notice that the Bible teaches very good principles for building healthy relationships? For example, Christians are taught to submit to one another, to help people in need, and to always be patient and kind. When we become Christian, the Holy Spirit helps us to become more like God in terms of His character.

Knowing God helps us to have whole, healthy relationships with other people. And that’s what this lesson is about—it’s not about simply making friends so you won’t be lonely. No, this lesson is about how to be a whole person in God who is ready for relationships with other people.

How to overcome loneliness

God understands why we are lonely and He has the solution. (Actually, He is the solution!) When Jesus began His ministry, He applied the prophesy of Isaiah 61:1-3 to Himself:


Isaiah 61:1-3, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."


Jesus came to fulfill this prophesy. Jesus solved the problem of sin for us and allowed us to have close, intimate fellowship with God once again. Before we met Jesus, we were captives of sin, poor in love and the character of God, and without hope. But Jesus sets us free from all those things that oppressed us before. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is working in us to give us new life. The old has gone, the new has come!

Jesus came to set you free from loneliness. You no longer need to feel unloved, misunderstood, alone, or without close fellowship. Jesus came to restore the most important relationship in your life—your relationship with God—and to enable you to have close, meaningful relationships with others.

Let’s learn how to apply this truth in our lives. There are several simple and not-so-simple things we can do to overcome loneliness.

1. Know God is your best companion

At some points in our lives, we all feel alone, misunderstood, and vulnerable. During those times, we need someone to be with us, understand our heart, and give us encouragement and strength. The Bible says that God does all these things for us—He is always with us, knows us better than we know our selves, and encourages and strengthens us. He is our best companion.

King David had a very good friend in Jonathan, who supported and encouraged David during the most difficult time in David’s life. When Jonathan was killed in a battle with the Philistines, David must have felt very lonely. However, David had a close relationship with God and was able to draw strength from that relationship. When you read through the Psalms that David wrote, they all talk about David’s close relationship with God. They are an excellent example of the type of relationship we should have with God.

2. Control our thoughts and attitudes

When we feel alone and isolated from others, we are an easy target for the devil. Satan will come to us when we are vulnerable and try to drag us down with all kinds of lies and destructive thoughts. In John 8:44, Jesus said that when the devil lies, he speaks his native language. We should learn to recognize and refuse to listen to the lies of the devil.

Satan wants us to feel lonely and miserable. He will tell us that no one understands or cares about us, or encourage us to think negatively about other people. Satan’s goal is to keep us from connecting with others and receiving godly encouragement.

Brother or sister, you are the only one who can stand up to the devil’s lies. James 4:7 says that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. But we need to firmly resist by refusing to entertain negative thoughts and attitudes. When the enemy comes and lies to you, firmly stand on the truth. You are valued by God and are an irreplaceable part of the church body. God wants to have close fellowship with you and for you to have close fellowship with other Christians.

3. Focus on meeting other people’s needs

Ask any fisherman, and he’ll tell you that you need the right bait to catch fish. In the same way, if we are caring and sincere people, then we will naturally attract caring and sincere friends.

The great news is that as we mature as Christians, we learn to be more like Jesus—the most caring and sincere friend ever. In John 15:13, Jesus said he was our best friend because he laid his life down for our sakes. In Philippians, Paul urges Christians to imitate Jesus by thinking of others’ interests:


Philippians 2:3-7, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.


Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature of God:

  1. did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
  2. but made himself nothing,
  3. taking the very nature of a servant
  4. being made in human likeness."

If you want to develop close, meaningful relationships with others, we need to be more like Jesus. We need to think of others’ interests, not only our own. Ask God to give you a genuine concern for others, and wisdom to know how to demonstrate that concern.


4. Open up your life

It may sound obvious, but in order to develop close and meaningful relationships, we need to open up our lives to others. This means making time for social activities, accepting invitations, and reciprocating other people’s efforts to get to know you.

God has made each of us unique, and some are more gifted socially than others. But, as a general rule, the time and effort you invest in building godly relationships will be generously rewarded.

5. Devote yourself to church fellowship

Loneliness is something that should be rare in God’s church. Acts 2:42 says believers in the early church devoted themselves to fellowship. Today, things should be no different. The church is still Christians’ spiritual family, and we are all to regard each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. The church is not just a place where people with similar interests or backgrounds gather—it is the family of God, made up of diverse people who love Jesus.

Believe it or not, but you have more shared interests with people in the church than with anyone else outside the church. Jesus said that those who follow Him would be persecuted and hated by the world, but that the love demonstrated in the church would show the world God was with them.


John 15:18-19, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."


John 17:23, "May they [all believers] be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."


Even if you feel there is no one in church who can be your friend, I urge you to devote yourself to the church fellowship because that is where your spiritual family is. In the end, if we believe the words of Jesus, we ought to stand with our brothers and sisters in the church until the end.

In old times, travelers built fires when lying down at night. Lions would prowl around in the dark outside the camp, waiting for someone to come out. 1 Peter 5:8 says the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. If we run away from the church fellowship, we become an easy target for the devil. Commit yourself to the fellowship and stick close to your brothers and sisters.

Conclusion

Loneliness is a serious problem that impacts everyone at different times. We all have a deep longing for sincere, close relationships with other people because God created us that way. It is natural to desire meaningful relationships with others. Don’t feel that you are the only one that deals with this issue—even Adam in the Garden of Eden needed another person to be with him.

In order to overcome loneliness, we need to cultivate a closer relationship with God, who will always be our best friend. Friendship with God is like a massive rock in our social lives. When we stand on that rock, we are socially and emotionally secure. That foundation allows us to relate to others with confidence, not with desperation. As we become closer to God, the Holy Spirit will also develop us into better friends to others, which will in turn allow us to build genuine, godly relationships.

Discussion Questions


1. What is the most important relationship in your life?
2. Why do negative thoughts and attitudes prevent us from having close relationships with others?
3. What are some ways you can meet the needs of others?
4. What opportunities do you have to open up your life to others in the church?