Making the Most of Loneliness
Glynnis Whitwer

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:15 (NIV)

My little boy sat facing the back of the couch. His head resting on his crossed arms. He stared out the window. His little head moved from left to right as he watched two neighbor boys race past on bikes, laughing at a shared joke.

I watched my second-grade-son from the kitchen door, drying my hands with a dishtowel. My shoulders drooped as Josh took a deep breath and let it out in a despairing sigh. Mirroring his sadness, my throat tightened and hot tears burned my eyes. Throwing the dishtowel into the sink, I quietly stepped to the couch and slipped down next to him. Without saying a word, I scooped him into my lap and enveloped his little frame with my arms.

His face nuzzled mine and our tears mixed together. I could almost feel the wishing and hoping pulse through his small body: Will they stop by my house? Will they invite me to play? A smothered sob escaped from my little boy who was trying valiantly to be "big."

Ever since our move to North Carolina earlier in the year, Joshua had trouble making friends. The playgroups were established, and my shy son was painfully on the outside. His little brothers were good companions at home, but that didn't replace friendships at school or in the neighborhood.

The loneliness was oppressive, and I felt it too. In fact, that period of my life was one of my darkest times. We all left life-long friends when we moved. Those friendships had been born of common experiences, and years spent together. They were effortless. Now we faced unknown territory, not just geographically, but culturally and socially. This was a new world to us, and Josh felt it as painfully as I did. And yet, during that time, we all learned some things about God and ourselves that we wouldn't have learned had we stayed in Phoenix.

Although loneliness is painful, it isn't always a bad place to be for a time. C.S. Lewis said "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

God definitely spoke to us in our loneliness. And I started wondering if perhaps there are times when God allows loneliness into our lives as an invitation to pursue Him as our closest friend. When our friends have left us, or we have left them, God reveals His presence in new ways. Tim Hansel, author of Through the Wilderness of Loneliness writes, "Loneliness is not a time of abandonment…it just feels that way. It's actually a time of encounter at new levels with the only One who can fill that empty place in our hearts."

God longs to fill our hearts with Himself. Yet we often try to fill the desires of our hearts with the things of this world. We also discover those attempts to find replacements for God are fleeting and insubstantial, leaving us even lonelier than before.

As you or your child face a time of loneliness, take this opportunity to look to Jesus as a best friend. Jesus Himself calls us friends in John 15:15, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

Even though we were designed for community, God has a purpose for loneliness. If we can learn from it, rather than resent it, I believe we'll find a life-long Friend who'll never leave us lonely.

Dear Lord, thank You being a friend who will never leave me. Sometimes the loneliness is overwhelming. Please be real to me today. I want to learn from this time of loneliness rather than resent it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
When Your Child is Hurting: Helping Your Child Survive the Ups and Downs of Life by Glynnis Whitwer

Visit Glynnis’ blog for tips on how to help your child (and you) make friends.

Are you lonely today? Click here to meet a Friend who will never leave you.

You are My Hiding Place, Lord: Finding Peace in God's Presence by Emilie Barnes

Application Steps:
Spend 10 minutes sitting in the presence of Jesus. Invite Him to be real to you, and listen for His voice.

What characteristics does God display when He reveals Himself to us as a friend?

What can you do to be a better friend to God?

Power Verses:
Psalm 37:7a, "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…." (NIV)

Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (NIV)

© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my best friend and the love of my life left to be with Jesus I was so lonely. He saw my loneliness and gave me a wonderful grandson that is the mirror image of his grandfather. I have other grandchildren, however, he saw my loneliness and provided sometime to praise Him for and be thankful that my love is so much better with Jesus and without pain.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, I needed this today.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I find myself at time wondering why I feel so lonely. But its only because of those who don't believe in "the Lord" that have left me. Which if they can't believe, I didn't or they weren't my friends to start off from the beginning. God is the only friend I need.

Anonymous Denise Herrick said...

I too just moved a few months ago into full time ministry and have felt this loneliness at times. We are still adjusting to our new life. My oldest is 6 years old and is a people person. I too long for him to have a close friend or two to play with. Thank you for today's devotional! I need to be reminded of our one and only true friend, God Himself.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post today was such a reminder of, I can't count how many times, why God brought me to Oklahoma. I left a place where I spent all of my life and also with my late husband... Our Lord surely knows how to keep us reminded that he does have a plan for each of us, whether or not we see it or feel it...he is still working in us everyday. Thank you so much Lord!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been struggling with loneliness and depression for sometime now. My circumstances have not been easy lately. I was reminded through this devotional to take time with Jesus because He is the only Friend that will be able to completely fulfill me. He is truly the Friend that sticks closer than a brother and cares for me in hard-lonely- times. Thank you so much for writing this today.

Blogger Karren said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I really needed this today. My husband is currently deployed so I've been struggling with loneliness for a few months now. It's especially hard during a deployment to not resent the my husband or the military for the loneliness I'm feeling. Your devotional was a big reminder to me that I should be praising God even during these lonely days.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks! I needed this reminder although I may feel lonely I am not alone as long as I have the Lord. Originally from the islands I moved to CT now I live in NC with my husband who was missing his family and our 1 year old son. We now have 5 children 4 girls have been added. I still miss my family in CT, especially when I hear their laughter and loudness as they all gather together to enjoy the holidays and call me.

Blogger Unknown said...

I have been there, you are so right, it caused me to run into the arms of the only one who will never ever pull away. ...what a friend we have in JESUS!

Blogger Glynnis Whitwer said...

Dear sisters who have posted sharing your own loneliness - my heart aches for you. I pray God makes Himself known to you in a new way. I wrote a note on my personal blog about I made friends during my time of loneliness. You can read about it here:

With His love - Glynnis

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This devo is so right on. I have had so much loneliness in my life but without it I would not know God as well as I do. So I praise Him for the lonely times that only He can fill. I am not afraid of any lonely times ahead because He has shown me over and over that He is there.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my children she is 22, says she is not shy, just quite..she doesn't really have any friends. Friendly she is. But after high school her friends went their own way, part of that way is away from God.. She however still walks with God. She hates at work, (not same job as in high school, but same issues) co-workers do you drink,date,party,have sex,any kids, and no too all, any nothing in commen with single moms..just praying God to bring her some great christian friends her age please thanks..praying for your son also!!!

I just got back from a trip that made it impossible to even call or email home on Thanksgiving. I live in another country anyway, so it means a lot when i can video call the family when they are all together for the holidays...

I've really been feeling the pangs & pains of loneliness this week. This devo was great today - even though i'm reading it late... it's a great reminder.

The Lord has been faithful to me. I want so much to have a heart like David's - as it seems like he might have been one of the loneliest people that ever lived - yet was called a man after God's own heart. He was complete in The Lord. I want that so much.

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