CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Unmarried and Lonely
By Stacy Mouat
Being alone and being lonely are two different things. One can be alone without being lonely, and one can be lonely in a crowded room. Loneliness is, therefore, a state of mind, an emotion brought on by feelings of separation from other human beings...Whatever the cause of loneliness, for the Christian the cure is always the same — the comforting fellowship of Christ. ("What does the Bible say about loneliness?")Maybe you're 15 and see all your friends breaking off into pairs. Or you're mid-20s and your friends are starting to get married. Or you're in your 40s, looking longingly at friends who have growing families and less time for you. It can be very lonely to want a relationship that never seems to come.
It is wrong to feel lonely? No, it is a normal human emotion. Many people in the Bible went through deep periods of feeling lonely. Many of the Psalms are birthed out of this raw and honest emotion by David.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Psalm 25:16The Lord Jesus felt loneliness, along with a myriad of other emotions, while he was on the cross:
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"). Matthew27:46)God created us to be in relationship with other individuals for the sake of edifying and building one another up in the Lord (Genesis 2:18; Hebrews 10:25). That manifests itself in a variety of ways, through both families and friendships. It isn't wrong to want to be in a relationship with a person of the opposite sex with hopes of someday marrying, but that should not be your focus in life. Men and women, single or married, need to look to God alone to meet their needs because no person can fully satisfy another person — we were not created that way. Every person has a void in his/her soul/spirit/life that can only be filled by God. The "God-shaped hole" is the innate longing of the human heart for something outside itself, something transcendent, something "other" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Since God created us with this innate desire to connect with Him, it is He alone who can fill that void, or sense of loneliness. Sadly, too many people spend their lives looking for something other than God to fill this void, often another person. There is no doubt that many people pursuing things other than God achieve a measure of happiness for a time, but it is not a deep and abiding fulfillment. Just ask any number of married couples, particularly non-Christians, and you will find that many of them, though married, experience a deep sense of loneliness and longing for something more. Things of this world can help mask the feeling, but we'll never find true satisfaction or filling apart from an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
Paul addresses the issue of being single in 1 Corinthians 7:7-8, stating that it is a good thing to remain unmarried. The reason he gives is the unmarried person can give their undivided attention to the Lord while a married person is distracted by the concerns of their spouse and the things of this world (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). This isn't a prohibition to marry, but rather a statement to guard against seeking out a marriage partner simply because this life has troubles enough on its own. And marriage, though a blessed gift from God, can bring about unnecessary heartache and troubles (Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 7:28).
I encourage you to use this time of being single to develop your own interests and discover your God-given passions. You are in a unique season of life where you have the freedom to do that. Once you marry and start a family, those options/opportunities become very limited. Spending this time with God will help you feel a deep sense of satisfaction and make you into an interesting and well-rounded individual. Instead of being concerned about finding the "right person," focus your time on becoming the right kind of person, one that any individual would be blessed and honored to have as their spouse. Pray God will reveal if it is God's will for you to eventually marry, but also be praying for your future spouse. Consider what qualities you and that future spouse would need to be a good husband or a a good wife. Also, don't rush things when you think you have found "the one" (which is just a Hollywood fantasy). It is better to stay unattached than live in a lifetime covenantal marriage relationship to a miserable person who seemed like "Mr./Mrs. Right"!
I hope all that helps you see "singleness" is a blessing. Still, loneliness is a real emotion and I don't want to minimize that, so here are a few verses that should give you comfort when you are feeling especially lonely:
• "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)
• "He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him." (Psalm 91:15)
• "Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your unfailing love, Lord, supported me." (Psalm 94:17-18)
• "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)
• "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:18)
• "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth." (2 Timothy 4:16-17)
(Isaiah 43:1-5 is also a very comforting verse to reflect upon.)
I pray God's best on your life and that you will continue to grow in your knowledge and desire for Him.
Image Credit: Anemone123; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Hardships | Personal-Relationships
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