Breaking the Chains: Easing the Gnaw of Loneliness

by Katy Kauffman

The hunger finds us at opportune times—when we’re alone at night, when we hear that friends are hanging out, when a relationship has ended. A craving to be with people starts to nibble at our hearts, and sometimes it can be satisfied with a phone call, a visit to Facebook, or a prayer. But if we can’t satisfy the hunger for fellowship soon, the gnaw of loneliness can eat away at our peace and joy. Have you felt it?

No one is immune. Single people, married people, the young, the more seasoned. It finds us. Satan likes to use loneliness as a choice weapon to steal our joy, peace, and hope.

Two women in the Bible could have given into the gnaw of loneliness and resided in its pain. One woman, Naomi, was well on her way to getting there, but the other woman, Ruth, clung to hope. She actually clung to Naomi, and in doing so, clung to God. When both of their husbands died, Naomi told Ruth, her daughter-in-law, to go back to her own people and their gods. But Ruth chose to stay with Naomi and follow her God.

But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
and your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried. 
The LORD do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me."

(Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV)

Ruth loved Naomi, and her commitment to her took her to a new place, the land of Judah, Naomi’s homeland. As she faithfully worked in the fields to have food for herself and Naomi, she caught the eye of the landowner, Boaz, a relative of Naomi. Her loyalty to Naomi and her honorable character moved him to protect her and give her access to his fields. He took care of her, and eventually became the kinsman redeemer she needed. He gave her a home and a family. Naomi gained a son-in-law and a grandson. God took care of both women, and their sorrow and loneliness ended.

If you’re going through a season of loneliness right now, don’t lose hope. Cling to God, and do the work you know to do to take care of yourself and those entrusted to your charge. Trust God to provide what you need. He knows how to bring the season to an end and to ease the gnaw of loneliness. If we try to satisfy our need for fellowship and companionship our way, the results could cause more harm than good. But if we trust God to meet our need, we not only get what He can provide, we get Him.

 

The Strategies

Here are some strategies for easing the gnaw of loneliness and replacing it with hope, peace, and joy.

1. Talk to the Friend who is always present with you.

God is a Friend who never leaves us nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5, Proverbs 18:24), and He never gets tired of us talking to Him. Tell Him how you feel, focus on His goodness, and ask Him for what your heart needs. Also, take time to hear from Him.

2. In down times (when you’re not around people), cherish the times you did have with them recently, and trust God that He’ll provide more fellowship opportunities.

Remember the positive times with people that God has provided, and use the solitude for good—have a quiet time, clean the house, catch up on your to-do list, or send someone an encouraging e-mail.

3. Be the initiator.

We can wait for people to befriend us or check on us first, but if we like for others to do that for us, let’s do it for them! Some of my best friendships started because I was willing to talk to the other person first.

4. Remember that other people feel the gnaw of loneliness, too.

Don’t let Satan fool you that you’re the only one. Pray for friends who struggle with loneliness, and seek them out—visit them, call them, send them a text or a care package in the mail to show them that you love them and are thinking of them.

5. Don’t let a need for companionship drive you to get ahead of God and make bad decisions.

This is what Satan wants us to do. He knows that we can damage good relationships and future ones by trying to meet a need our own way instead of God’s. Before you visit a questionable website, push God’s boundaries on romance, or give in to a feeling of hopelessness, appeal to God for help and direction. Don’t put yourself in a position that will make the loneliness and pain worse instead of easing it. Meeting needs our own way can bring misery, sorrow, and pain, but meeting needs God’s way brings joy, peace, and blessing.

6. Rule your emotions, instead of letting them rule you.

This is a tough one for me. It’s so easy to drown in negative feelings, but in Christ, we have the power to rise above them. God helps us to replace harmful emotions with good ones. Depend on God to choose hope instead of despair, joy instead of sorrow, and helping others instead of drowning in personal pain or loneliness. This is your life. You decide what rules your spirit. Let God rule your spirit with power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Let Him strengthen your heart with His joy, hope, and goodness. Refuse a “victim” mentality, and look at all the good things God has given you. Cling to the promises of His Word, and trust Him to provide what you need. Let that faith bring you peace and joy.

7. Cling to God.

This is the first thing that we should do, but I wanted to save the best for last! Like Ruth clung to Naomi, cling to God. Through bouts of loneliness over the last couple of years, I learned how to practice this, and the fellowship I had with God sustained me and chased away feelings of loneliness. The gnaw was eased, and closeness to God filled my heart with love and peace. But I found that drawing close to God and staying with Him in my perspectives and mindset, needed to happen every day. Cling to God daily, and remember that He’s holding onto you.

 

If you’re in a season of loneliness, turn this season into good by deepening your relationship with God like never before. The closeness you develop with Him will sustain you now and prepare you for when your life becomes full of people (and you need some time to yourself). God will become your center of gravity and keep your heart anchored in hope and joy, no matter who comes or goes in your life. He knows how to make you stronger through the trial and to sustain that strength when the trial ends.

Which strategy would help you the most to handle loneliness? Have you seen any of them work? Tell me in the comments below, and stay close to God. His love and fellowship can break this chain, and strip the gnaw of loneliness of its power.

 

© Copyright 2016 by Katy Kauffman

loneliness, friendship, companionship, Breaking the Chains: Easing the Gnaw of Loneliness, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

Comments (26)

  • anon

    God is ALWAYS with us - even when we don't think He is...

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    He truly is! Sometimes it takes refocusing our attention to "see" Him with us. Thanks for stopping by, Andrea!
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    I think I've found that your #3  of being the initiator is what gets me results! :)

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    That's good to hear, Danielle! I am glad it's something that can work well!
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Loneliness is something I struggle with myself, I have to remember that God is always with us. No matter what He sees and hears us.

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Amen, Miranda! There's not an easy answer to solving loneliness, but God is the best answer. Thank you for commenting and sharing! It's nice to hear that others are looking to God too to deal with feelings of loneliness.
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    I've been the one left out of a neighbor's barbeque, just today. And I have to realize that God sometimes says, this isn't the friendship for you or I need you to do something else right now. It gets lonely, but I have to remind myself to seek Him in those moments. Great perspective! Thanks for encouraging me I'm not alone even when I might physically be by myself.

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Jennifer, thank you for sharing. Now I want us to get together for a barbeque. I appreciate your wisdom about God's perspective. If a friendship or situation doesn't turn out well, He's got something else good in store for us. That's good to remember, so we don't lose heart. And God is always with us, which brings great comfort and hope. 
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Truthfully, as an introvert I rarely feel lonely because solitude helps me be peaceful.  I feel the gnaw of loneliness when I feel like I don't fit in within a crowd; like being in a church service where I haven't really connected with anyone. I don't mind being alone.
    Still, these are great suggestions.  Some people are just as shy or awkward about initiating new friendships. Don't write them off just yet.
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you for sharing your perspective as an introvert, Maria. There's peace and sanity in solitude oftentimes. I have to remember that, and I appreciate my time alone with God. I find my center of gravity there. There's also an ache when you're in a crowd but can't connect with anyone. I've felt that too. God knows how to help us when we're alone or surrounded by people. A deep, personal relationship with God can sustain us no matter what and guide us. Thanks for your advice.
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Cling to God! Yes! I am in that season of my life now and clinging to God and learning who I am in Him and my value in Him helps me keep my head above water. 

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you for saying that, Alonda! I know what you mean about keeping your head above water, and God is the best lifeguard and lifesaver. Thank you for sharing that, and I pray that God helps you to keep walking forward with Him and to trust Him for great things.
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you! I needed some of these! 

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    I hope they help, Aly. I am still using them and trusting God to take care of me. May He take care of you too!
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    So well written - thank you so much for these reminders.  We might be in different stages of life but this is so relavant to anyone! =)

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you, Kate. I do hope they can be applied to any stage of life. God bless you, and thanks for stopping by today!
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    I've found that the strategy of initiating is really important. Sometimes to break through loneliness we need to step out of our comfort zones and try new things. I'm glad God meets our needs for friendship.
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    I agree, Leigh! Taking God-directed initiatives can help so much, and bring us out of loneliness. But regardless of how many friends we have, holding onto God and staying close to Him is most important. He's a friend that's always with us. I'm grateful also that He provides meaningful friendships. Thanks for commenting!
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Ah, someone else who talks about a victim mindset! I love the whole post. All these points are very helpful. I used to search for a best friend, but one day He made it clear that Jesus is my best friend. To this day I reserve that title for only Him.

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you for your comments, Kelly. I also think of God as my Best Friend. He has a place no one else has. (Even if I use the term to refer to people.) But I think it's special you save that name for Him. He has all the qualities of a best friend we could hope for and more. Thank you for stopping by and sharing!
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    I have to agree that #3 changes things. Loneliness tends to be brought about by thinking of one's self. Initiating relationship with both God and others relieves the loneliness, because we were created for relationship as image bearers of our triune God! In Christ, there is no loneliness. He bore it all for us on the cross when the Father turned His face away. Praise God for taking our loneliness!

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Fellowship with God and others does relieve loneliness. Christians will struggle with it, but I am grateful God helps us. I don't believe that loneliness is necessarily a sin, but the result of circumstances or a reaction to pain and other things. However, it's true that in Christ, we can be free from it. Thank you for reading part of this series, Matthew!

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    I never thought about Ruth's story in this way. I think many people in her shoes would overlook the gift of companionship God sent - her mother-in-law - but instead she noticed it, cherished it, and took advantage of it. When I was in college, I overlooked some of God's gifts of companionship - I was only concerned about finding romance so I overlooked friendship as trivial. Now I have a little better sense, thankfully!

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you for sharing that, Lauren! Most of us want both - friendships and romance. I have also learned to cherish the friendships, and I am very grateful for the friends God has given. Thank you for being a sweet one!
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Hi Katy,
    Loved this post on loneliness.  I am married and at times I feel lonely, but not for the companionship of a friend.  My loneliness stems from the absence of parents.  My dad died when I was 8, and my mother suffered from manic depression. All through my life, I experienced pains of loneliness when I saw others sharing a loving relationship with their parents.  I have learned to lean of Jesus when these moments occur, and I thank God for the privilege of being His child.  
     

    Mar 15, 2016
  • anon

    Laura, I am very sorry about you not being able to be close to your parents. I have friends who have struggled with the same thing. I am grateful that Jesus is there for each of us and you've been able to lean on Him. We have a forever family with God and that's so comforting. Thank you for sharing about this topic, and I'm grateful to know you and have a friendship with you and a writing ministry together. Your words are so encouraging!
     

    Mar 15, 2016

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The Scrapbooked Bible Study: A Blog by Katy Kauffman

Award-Winning Author, Editor, Bible Teacher

An editor for Refresh Bible Study Magazine, Katy Kauffman is also a Bible study author who loves to write about the treasures of Scripture. Her Bible studies focus on winning life's spiritual battles, and her blog shares snippets of "scrapbooked" encouragement. Learn more about The Scrapbooked Bible Study, and follow Katy's blog to receive weekly posts. 

 

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