Helpers, advocates, friends, and kind people everywhere often say to someone who’s hurting, “You’re not alone.” I often say it myself. It’s meant as an offer of help and sympathetic reassurance. But does it work? What if you really are alone?
We human beings are all stranded on this messed-up Earth and hoping to escape one day. Our problems aren’t that unique, even though it often feels as though they are. Domestic violence, divorce, cancer, widowhood, bankruptcy, bullying, shame, war – whatever your trauma, someone else has experienced the same thing. Or at least something very similar. Some have turned out well, and some haven’t. Peter assures us that when it comes to spiritual warfare, “your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:9)
But when you’re all alone at night and your child calls from the police station, or your body is full of pain, or you’re faced with the opportunity to cheat and no one would know, it’s up to you. You’re up to bat, and there’s no replacement available. Those moments demonstrate your true character as nothing else can.
Pain is very lonely thing whether it’s physical, emotional, or spiritual. Others can be there, help, and try to understand, but they can’t feel it for you. They can comfort you, distract you, encourage you, and support you. And you need all those things. But they can’t choose for you, hurt for you, or get better for you.
And most of all, no one can do your living or dying for you. In that, there’s a profound sense in which you really are alone.
I’ve taken a risk in writing this post. I’ve learned that alone isn’t the same as being lonely, but perhaps you haven’t learned that yet. God created us to live in community, and if you’re not connecting closely with family, friends, and others in the family of God you need to do so. There are people who want to help you, touch you, know you, love you, and be with you. Really, there are.
What I’m writing about today is the unique purpose God has for you individually, the unique experiences He built you to know, and the unique way in which He will mature you through pain and suffering. He will hold you personally responsible for how you respond to His call, for how you steward the resources He’s placed within your care, and for the kind of character you develop.
What To Do When You’re Alone
It’s sobering to come up against moments when it’s only you. If you’re feeling alone, here are some suggestions:
- Reach out to people. No one can do your hurting for you, but they can provide much help along the way. Don’t expect them to fix everything. Welcome whatever degree of understanding they can offer, remembering that only One can understand everything about you.
- Become friends with yourself. It’s been said that you’re the only person who will never leave you, so better learn to like yourself. Do the work now to deal with old baggage and let God clean out your heart. You’ll have a better friend in yourself in the future.
- Invest in your relationship with God. Jesus knows what it is to be truly alone. None of us will ever be alone as completely as He was. And He is the only One who can say, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
In the end, it’s just you and God anyway. At the end of your life it’s just you standing before Him. No pastor, no husband or wife, no children, no friends or church members or colleagues. That’s one of the most intimate and most sobering thoughts of all. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
If you know Him, that’s not a bad thought. It’s part of the blessed hope – to be united with the One who has always been the closest to you all along.
And in that, you’re never alone.
Your Turn: Are you alone or are you lonely? What helps when you feel alone? Leave a comment below.
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