I want to start off by saying that missing someone or something is quite different than loneliness. Let’s look at Genesis. From Genesis 1:9-25, God created a beautiful world. He created water, vegetation, and animals. Then in Genesis 1:28-31, God tells mankind that all that has been created has been given to them for their provision and enjoyment. Further Genesis 2:18 states, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'” God has created us for connection. He has created us for interaction with each other and the world around us. Absence or loss of that causes us to take notice, and rightfully so. It puts things in perspective. It causes us to measure the influence, both positive and negative, that people, habits, and things have had in our lives.
The response of missing someone or something, due to absence, is one of gratefulness and can produce joy. Our hearts rejoice over what was and can look joyfully toward the future. Even in bereavement, there can be peace and steadiness in our hearts because there is an acknowledgment that what we lost was a gift. Psalm 30:4-5 has the somewhat familiar verses, “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Here David references the consequences that fell on Jerusalem due to his sins. There was loss, there was sadness, but there was recognition of God’s love and sovereignty beyond the current situation which is why the psalm calls for God’s people to sing His praises. Throughout Psalm , you can find David wrestling with difficulties and pain and uncertainty and inevitably leaning joyfully into praise because of his trust of God.
That is distinctively different from loneliness. On a psychological level, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, it is a “distressing experience” that comes from unstable attachment patterns. It does not co-exist with gratitude and joy, which are rooted in faith and trust. In fact, some recent psychological studies have said that the persistent loneliness of our culture has made happiness unachievable for most people. I don’t believe that to be so, I think we are simply looking in the wrong places to find relief from loneliness. In order to know how to deal with it, we should first look at this “distressing experience”.
It can best be described as a space left by the absence of security. As I studied through articles on loneliness in Psychology Today, several journals on mental health, and read through the DSM V, I found a common thread. When that in which we put our surety in dissipates, proves itself unreliable, or leaves loneliness fills the void created. We all need security; the real food for thought is where does our primary stability comes from. Even beyond the current environment, we find ourselves in, when we depend on anyone or anything to sustain us, that is our security. Any disruption to that source will create uneasiness and our hearts clamor to ease the distress. We can find ourselves clinging to a myriad of poor substitutes. What is this place? It is a state in which we have found ourselves valuing God’s gifts over God Himself. They have become the focal point of our faith. Hear me when I say this was a hard truth for me to swallow. I love God. My heartaches when I sin; I have gulped back many tears because I long to love God in greater measure. But, evident from those nagging, “how could you allow this?” type of questions I ask at times, is my misplaced trust.
Missing the good things in our lives is normal and right, but it should never steal our joy. It should never leave us empty. Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. God is our sufficiency. I encourage you, just as I will be doing today, to meditate on the verses below and pray for God to search your heart. I have included a prayer below, but prayer is personal, so don’t hesitate to uses your own words. Take some time to digest, and spend time with God. It is my deepest prayer that at the end of these 7 days we can jointly find ourselves not with more answers or Bible knowledge, but with a shift in our security.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
“Lord, You are the Creator, my Creator. You formed me and molded me. You know me through and through. You see me and You love me with an unfailing love. I come to You now and lift my heart to You. I lift, to You, these aching places where I have rested my security and comfort in the gifts you have given me. Thank you for those good gifts, but please help me become secure in You and You alone. You say Your Word is active and alive, it can discern the intentions of my heart. I lay my pride down and ask that You, please lead me and guide in Your Word today. Please bring revelation to that which I have made preeminent over You. I want to know You more. I want to love You more. Help me, to do that. Thank you for transforming my heart and for giving me a willingness to seek You in a deeper way. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.”