Sometimes as Christians we are called to live in uncomfortable circumstances. Life as a Christian can be lonely when you are in a secular environment like Penn because others do not always support or agree with what you stand for. You may find it difficult to fit in without making compromises. On the other hand, you may be far from home, you may generally have difficulty making friends, you may experience the death of a loved one or a breaking up of a friend group, or you may become so busy that you can’t keep up with homework and friends. However, despite difficult circumstances and trials that may come, through our relationship with Christ, we can still be content and stand firm.
What causes loneliness?
- Distance from family
- General difficulty making friends
- Life crises
Where is God when we are lonely?
God is with us. While loneliness is a very real struggle, believers can be comforted that God, our omnipresent God, is with us and very near to us in our struggles. He is our comforter since He too suffered and faced trials on this earth. He faced temptations, rejection, and loneliness just as we do. God was near to the people of Israel whether as a pillar of cloud or fire or later as Jesus Christ. He is still with us. We can hope in Him, draw near to Him, and seek His help.
For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?
Deuteronomy 4:7 NASB
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16 NASB
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.
Psalm 73:23-28 NASB
I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalms 16:8 NASB
You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth.
Psalms 119:151 NASB
Does this mean I have to be happy even if I’m lonely?
The short answer is “no.” Sometimes life is happy, and sometimes life is sad and difficult. We go through seasons in our lives where we have plenty, and it is easier to be content. Then we go through seasons that try us and cause us grief. According to Ecclesiastes 3, this is to be expected.
For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NASB
So, if you don’t make friends right away or are feeling lonely for whatever reason, remember that it is only a season. In time, with prayer, God will bring you through it. Even if you are not happy right now or college is not living up to your expectations, you can still be content.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:11-13 NASB
Identify why you are lonely and make practical changes. If it’s because you are too busy (see the “Managing your time” section), change something about your schedule. If it’s because you’re far away from home and family, maybe set up times to chat with people you love. If it’s because of some tragedy, seek comfort from God’s Word. Don’t heed others’ expectations of you. Everyone gets lonely sometimes and it is not weakness. Everyone has a limit to how much their schedule can handle and might need to do less. Everyone goes through life crises or has difficulties meeting people and making lasting friendships.
Don’t forget to encourage others who may seem to be lonely.
Cry to the Lord in prayer. Whether to ask for deliverance or to ask that the Lord would show you what He wants you to learn during this time, prayer is key. Because God is always with us, He hears our prayers (and He does have the power to answer them)! He can give you courage, help you to endure, and bring you out of the trial you’re facing. While He may not do what we want when we want, God is kind and will help us when we call on Him.
[The Lord is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]
The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
Psalm 145:14-19 NASB
Note from Charis
I remember calling home during my first semester and telling my mom, “I feel like I have no friends here, and I’m so overwhelmed by homework and exams and multiple extracurriculars that I just can’t stand it anymore.” It seemed like everyone was telling me that I would be lonely or depressed if I did less, but in fact, I was lonely because I was doing too much. For my personality, I am happier to have fewer activities and more time for plain old conversation with people I want to get to know. Sometimes you have to gauge what you can handle and say no to things even if you think they’re expected of you (later we will talk about managing time and this point will resurface). I ended up dropping one of my activities between first and second semester and a lot of my time was freed up. I could spend more time with people and develop friendships. I also became more involved in my church and made meaningful relationships with women there who could counsel me and encourage me. Loneliness happens! If you find yourself lonely, try to ascertain why. Most importantly, try to get closer to the Lord and other believers. Build friendships that are based in Christ and minister to others who might also be lonely. If you are lonely, there are certainly others who feel the same way. For me, I made myself so busy that I had no time for real relationships. Of course, it doesn’t happen the same way for everyone.