Last week, I recommended a book by Elisabeth Elliot called Passion and Purity. Today, as part of my “Wise Words” series, I would like to share an excerpt from that book about the topic of loneliness and how to deal with it in a godly way. Let’s dive right in…
“Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.
Remember that you are not alone. “The Lord, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee neither forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage.” (Deut. 31:8) Jesus promised His disciples, “Lo, I am with you always.” (Matt. 28:20) Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.Give thanks. In times of my greatest loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of II Corinthians 4:17, 18, “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.
Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last.Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others.Do something for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God’s peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy” (Elliot 79-80).
I admit that I paired this week’s post with last week’s because, well, singleness and loneliness are subjects that are typically paired together.
I must also admit, thankfully, that I am in just the right mood to write this post–meaning I’m not feeling lonely at the moment. The last couple weeks have been crazy, but today is a snow day and my introvert-self is happy to finally be locked inside my house by myself. If I were in any other mood, this topic might have been too close to the heart to even touch.
It’s an odd thing to think about. In itself, being alone isn’t the problem. A few weeks ago, I came home from work on a Friday night with absolutely no plans for the weekend, and I reveled in the fact. Two days home alone in a row! Cause for celebration! What’s odd is that, a week before or after, I could be in the exact same situation and be sad about it. Instead of feeling free, I feel lonely.
That means it’s not really the fact that I’m alone that is making me sad. It’s really just my attitude and emotions, which can be swayed by just about anything…i.e. a comment at work, an embarrassing situation, or even the weather!
Since emotions are so topsy turvy, I am glad for these reminders by Elisabeth Elliot for when being alone does mean being lonely. At certain points in my life, I might have read these suggestions and thought sounds like it was written by someone who can’t remember what lonely feels like. But how untrue is that! In Passion and Purity, Elliot recounts the years before she married her husband Jim Elliot, who–not long into their marriage–was martyred while delivering the word of God to the Auca tribe in Ecuador.
Whoever had written these words and whatever their background, these truths about loneliness would be just that–true. We have all experienced loneliness, and God is the only one who can and will wipe away our loneliness.
I will leave you now to dwell on these wide words about loneliness. I hope they’ve been as helpful and encouraging to you all as they have been to me!
Elliot, Elisabeth. 1984. Passion and Purity. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell.