The Pain of Loneliness

A few years ago, the magazine Psychology Today had a fascinating article about the function of the human brain. Our diagnostic equipment is now so good that we can actually map the human brain. As we do, we can see what area of the brain becomes active when a person is facing a certain situation. For instance, one area of the brain becomes active when the person is facing danger. Another area of the brain becomes active when the person sits down to a favorite meal.

Researchers decided to try an experiment. They placed someone in a situation where the person had to face loneliness. Their diagnostic equipment lit up. What it told them was a bit jarring. It told them that the area of the brain that becomes active when facing loneliness is the same area of the brain that becomes active when facing physical pain.

Think about that for a moment. According to this experiment, our emotional makeup is such that we process loneliness the same way we process physical pain.

Then again, maybe we don’t need researchers to tell us what we already know. Loneliness hurts. Loneliness brings real pain.

Jesus knows this. He knows this from his own turn at living in this fallen world. More than anyone else, he knows what agony it is to feel isolated, abandoned, alone.

But Jesus doesn’t just feel our pain. He’s done something about it. At the cross his blood washed our sins away. He removed the wall of our sin between God and us. That means by trusting in Jesus we will never be alone again.

The pain of loneliness is real. But it’s no match for Jesus. Remember, Jesus is with you. You are never alone.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Finding Happiness

How Do I Find More Happiness in My Life?

We need to begin by asking, “What do we mean by happiness?”  For a child, happiness might mean getting Christmas presents every morning and cake and ice cream for every meal.  After a few days, though, it would stop being fun.  Many adults think that money will make them happy.  But we have seen many rich people who are unhappy and even depressed and alone.  Others might think that drugs and alcohol make them happy.  But the “high” soon wears off.  Finding happiness in the things and people of this world is an exercise in frustration.

The Bible uses the word “blessed” to describe happiness.  The blessings of God give us true happiness.  The most important of God’s blessings is Jesus, whom he sent into this world. Jesus took the blame for everything we ever did wrong.  That’s why he died on the cross – not because he did anything wrong, but because we did.  Jesus has paid for our sins, and that means we are saved from God’s judgment of eternal death by believing in him.  That makes us happy.  Jesus blesses us with salvation.

No matter how long we live, we are all destined to die.  But when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning, he broke the hold of death.  Even though we will one day die, by trusting in Jesus we have the sure hope that we will also come back to life and live forever in heaven.  That makes us happy.  Jesus blesses us with eternal life.

God even uses the tough times in life for our good – to teach us more about his love and strengthen our trust in him. We are never alone. No matter how tough life is for us, no matter how much pain we endure, no matter how poor we are, no matter how lonely we may feel, no one and nothing can take away what Jesus did for us.  Our sins are forgiven by God, and through faith in Jesus eternal life in heaven is waiting for us.  That makes us happy. That removes loneliness because Jesus is with us! Sometimes we smile through tears, but we can still smile.

Can God help us find happiness?  He has already given it to us through Jesus.

Keep your lives free from the love of money
and be content with what you have,
because God has said,
Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.
Hebrews 13:5

faithful friends

Can God Help Me Find Faithful Friends?

Have you ever longed for a solid friendship?  Have you ever wondered if there’s a friend out there that you can count on?  It’s no secret that a true friendship is a rare thing. Are you feeling alone?

That’s not to say there aren’t people who will pay attention to us!  The world is full of people who will be our friend as long as they feel we have something to offer.  But what about that friend who sticks by us, even when we’re at the end of our rope?  What about the one who cares about us even when we have nothing to give?  Is it possible that God could provide such a friendship?

Certainly God has a good track record of providing friendships to those in need.  When David was under attack by King Saul, he found a faithful friend in the person of Jonathan, Saul’s son.  The Bible tells us that Jonathan “loved David as he loved himself” (1 Samuel 20:17) and even defended David against his father’s attacks.

We’re also told that the apostle Paul had several friends that attended him while he was in prison.  They were of great help to him at a time when he really needed a friend.

But even during those times when true friendship seems far away, there is one friend who will stick by us no matter what!  That person is God’s one and only Son – Jesus.

There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).  What a beautiful description of Jesus’ friendship for us.

Just think!  Even when we sinned, Jesus didn’t abandon us.   Instead, he stood in our place, taking our sin and guilt for us and then giving his life for ours to set us free from eternal death!  Jesus also earned a place for us in God’s family. By faith in him, we have the privilege of being heirs of his promised heaven.  And he did it all because he loved us even more than he loved his own life. Jesus is with us. We are not alone.

Looking for a faithful friendship?  Simply look to Jesus!  His friendship will never end!

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me…
Psalm 23:4

Finding Friendship

How do I find a friend?

Be a friend. It’s that simple and that hard.

I have to believe I have something to give. My attention, my time, my concern. Maybe a friendship develops out of a shared task as I help others. Maybe somebody is going through hard times and I get in the habit of sitting down and listening to them.

I have to take the first step. For me to wait for someone to be my friend is as effective as holding a cardboard sign on the street corner, “Will work for a friend.” Taking the initiative takes a little guts and courage, but if I believe I have something to give to others, I will take the first step.

Finally I have to recognize I will learn more about myself than I ever wanted to. A friend is somebody who shows you who you are, with all the warts and wrinkles. A friend is somebody who can pop all your presumptuous bubbles and still like you, love you, help you, comfort you, and your feelings for them don’t change, either. A friend conquers loneliness — a friend at all times.

All those things were at work in Jesus. He knew he had something to give and he was never stingy in giving his time and attention to others. He took the first step. When nobody wants to do the dirty work, he would get up and do it. When somebody was under the gun, he stood up for them.

And with Jesus, he tells me more about myself than I really want to know, but in telling me about myself, I become more than I ever could be. And it is never as a judge, but always as a friend.

Maybe that’s why the Bible says, “We love him, because he first loved us.”


For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13

Don't fit in

I Just Don’t Fit In

It is not fun when other people seem to be more comfortable socially than you are. It’s downright depressing. It’s especially bad when other people point it out, don’t you think? It’s very lonely.

There are billions of people in this world. You don’t care what most of them think about you. But there are certain people whose opinions are very important to you, right? Whose opinion is most important?

The clear answer to that is God. God’s opinion of you is absolutely most important. He’s smarter than anyone, he’s more powerful than anyone, and his opinion of you has eternal consequences. So what’s his opinion of you?

He says, “I created you. I redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you. You are precious and honored in my sight” (Isaiah 43:1-4). Because of the work of Jesus, God thinks you are extremely cool.

Anyone who tries to exclude you or make fun of you is dumber than God. Loneliness is conquered through God. When you are secure in his love, that makes you sad for those people, not angry. God loves them too, and they don’t even realize that they are to reflect his love.

The special things that make you who you are–those things are precious to God. Some of those unique traits may even make you a little uncomfortable socially. But God has a plan to use those things to his glory in your life, regardless of how comfortable you are. There are people who will come into your life and will appreciate those special things about you. Can you wait?

In the meantime, don’t be mean in return. Be kind, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God has forgiven you (Colossians 3:13).

And we know that all things work together
for good to those who love God,
to those who are the called
according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

Talking About Me

Why Are They Talking About Me?

It is spooky when you walk into a room and friends say, “We were just talking about you!” Instantly you are on your guard.

Sometimes you get the feeling that the people talking about you are not your friends. You enter a room and the conversation dies. Either their eyes don’t meet yours or they try to stare you out of the room so they can get back to ripping you apart. Loneliness creeps in.

Why do people do it? Either you are very interesting to them (unlikely), you are envied by them so they want to take you down a notch or two (perhaps), or they derive malicious pleasure from jerking people’s chains, and you are the topic of the day.

It’s going to happen. King David once lamented, “With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause (Psalm 109:3).” There was a lot of talking behind Jesus’ back, talk that led to his betrayal and execution. So people are going to talk about you.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

If they are interested in you, they will, once they get over their shyness in being around such an wonderful person, come out of their shells and talk to you. Talk to them first. Life is too short to wait.

If they are envious, don’t worry. Nothing they can say will affect who you are and what you do.

If you are the target of the day, turn the other cheek and ignore them. That’s what Jesus did. He had more important things to do than worry what they were saying about him. He had a world to save and he did it. He can give you the power to live above those who talk behind your back. Jesus is with you. You are not alone!

No one stood by me
the first time I defended myself;
all deserted me.
But the Lord stayed with me
and gave me strength.
2 Timothy 4:16