Loneliness is a wilderness, but through receiving it as a gift, accepting it from the hand of God, and offering it back to Him with thanksgiving, it may become the pathway to holiness, to glory, to God Himself.
— ELISABETH ELLIOT, THE PATH OF LONELINESS
What’s to be done with a lonely heart?
Once I didn’t know what to do with my loneliness. On one hand it was something to avoid at all costs, to deaden with distraction, or to have its very existence denied. And on the other hand, it was something to moan and groan over, obsess and pine away about. Coming right down to it – loneliness was the enemy. It scared me because it made me feel so needy. The weight of it was crushing. The self-insufficiency it unmasked in me hurt my pride. Truly, to feel so utterly human is humbling.
But now I’m viewing this aching companion differently.
Loneliness is so beautiful, so important. Why? Because loneliness can be a secret friend if it drives you to God.
God created the aching abyss in our souls where loneliness lives. He is the One who created the emotions that make us feel so wonderfully alive – like joy, and sadness, and yes, even anger. He also purposefully put an empty space in every person’s heart so that He could fill it with Himself and His love. That’s one of the reasons why I now see loneliness as such a beautiful reminder, so worthy a gift to be embraced.
Loneliness can be a secret friend if it drives you to God.
Loneliness is really just a homesickness for God. Hands can be full and yet a heart just as empty without Him. And this is a mercy of God, because nothing and no one else can meet the human heart’s demand for complete satisfaction but the One who made the aching heart itself. Until people stop and open themselves up to the possibility that they were made for more; that they were made for Someone beside themselves and fulfilling their own pleasures, their restless, hungry natures will never know the true peace or satisfaction they were purposefully born craving. The good news is, even if your hands aren’t as full as you thought they’d be by now or would want them to be today, you can still be truly glad and content when He is the One satisfying you day by day. This is one of the transformational miracles only a personal, surrendered relationship with Christ can possibly bring about.
Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever … It is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all His works. (Psalm 73:25-26,28)
Augustine summed it up well when he said “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” With Jesus the restless search ends and real peace, joy, and satisfaction begins. (I know. I’ve lived it. I’m still living it. And only by God’s grace will I continue to live it, day by day.)
Choose to be one of the courageous ones who put their beautiful loneliness to good use. Don’t hide from it. Don’t wallow alone in it. Allow it to be a catalyst, a friendly reminder that says, “Look away from all that you are not, away from all that is not, to Who is more than enough, to Who is always there, waiting to dwell in you and fill you to overflowing.”
Allow loneliness to be that aching, yet tender reminder to invite God where He’s always belonged and wants to continually dwell: your heart, mind, and soul.
It will change your life.