The Bible has stories about people facing loneliness and solutions to loneliness. God understands and cares and doesn’t want us to suffer alone.
Jesus Christ understands what it is like to be alone.
He spent 40 days alone in the wilderness, fasting and preparing to face Satan’s terrible temptations.
And beyond that, during His crucifixion He also endured the utter loneliness that led Him to cry out, “‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27:46).
After an eternity of close contact with God the Father, He suddenly experienced the crushing loneliness of carrying the weight of the world’s sins.
Jesus understands our suffering
But even before that, our Savior was no stranger to rejection and abandonment.
Isaiah 53 expresses the deep isolation and loneliness the Messiah would suffer in addition to the physical torment:
“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (verse 3).
Jesus knew that even the many people who “believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did” (John 2:23) were not really with Him. He “did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man” (verses 24-25). Such scriptures hint at deep feelings of isolation.
“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’” (John 6:66-67).
But the Bible shows He had a different and deeper source of companionship: “The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him” (John 8:29).
Jesus told His disciples, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (John 16:32).
Jesus faced isolation and rejection, and He is empathetic and compassionate to those facing loneliness. He can “sympathize with our weaknesses” and so we are invited to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
We don’t need to be completely alone, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
“It is not good that man should be alone”
From the beginning, God created us to be social creatures. In the creation account, companionship can seem like an afterthought, but it was not. God wants us to know what He knew all along: “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18).
Putting us in families was always God’s intent. He created us to be like Him. Our families are intended to reflect His family. In fact, the overarching story of the Bible is that God the Father and Jesus, the Son of God, want us to become children of God.
God doesn’t intend for us to be alone. On the night before He was crucified, Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).
And God the Father tells us, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18).
Our relationship with God is the ultimate and most important solution to the problem of loneliness. But that does not minimize the pain of human isolation and loneliness. The Bible tells the story of people of God who experienced the pangs of loneliness.
Elijah felt alone
One of the most poignant examples was the prophet Elijah.
After the adrenaline rush of his contest with the prophets of Baal came the vicious threats of evil Queen Jezebel. Elijah “ran for his life” (1 Kings 19:3). Discouraged and weary, he even begged God to take his life rather than let him suffer what Jezebel had planned for him (verse 4).
But God had other plans. After Elijah came to Mount Horeb and witnessed God’s power, God asked him gently, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (verse 13).
Elijah’s answer showed how alone he felt: “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (verse 10).
God encourages and is pleased by Christian brotherhood and fellowship. God’s response included a list of assignments God had for Elijah. Having a purpose and work to throw himself into would also help Elijah overcome his discouragement.
Included in this work was the opportunity to mentor his successor, Elisha. This close relationship, and the fact that 7,000 people had not bowed to Baal, helped Elijah realize he was not truly alone.
We can ask God to help us to connect with others who serve Him and to work together in accomplishing God’s work.
The author of Psalm 102 felt afflicted and alone
Psalm 102 carries this inscription: “A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the LORD.”
Though the author is not named, his lament is one that many of us can relate to. His comparisons to lonely birds have touched many hearts:
“I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop” (verses 6-7).
The psalmist felt the reproach of enemies, but even more troubling was feeling cut off from God because of guilt.
Yet Psalm 102 continues with acknowledgment of God’s mercy and praise for His concern for the afflicted and His willingness to strengthen those in need.
We can pray that God will forgive and help us as well.
Other biblical examples of loneliness
The Bible has many other stories of people who experienced loneliness, whether they were alone or in a crowd.
Hagar and Ishmael wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba (Genesis 21:14). After incurring the wrath of his brother, Jacob set off alone on the long journey to Laban’s home (Genesis 28). After being sold into slavery by his angry brothers, Joseph spent many years far from family and apart from any other believers in God (Genesis 39).
Moses, a prince in Egypt, fled to the desolate wilderness (Exodus 2:15). David had to flee for his life, even ending up in enemy cities. He cried out, “I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16, New International Version).
Paul, after being converted, was no longer accepted by his former friends and was feared by his new brethren (Acts 9:26).
And the Bible tells of many who lost husbands, wives, parents or children. God cares deeply about the loneliness and suffering of widows, widowers, orphans and those bereaved of their children.
He’s “a father of the fatherless, a defender of widows” (Psalm 68:5).
Biblical solutions to loneliness
After recounting the misfortune of “one alone, without companion” (Ecclesiastes 4:8), Solomon wrote:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (verses 9-12).
This describes “the obvious benefits of companionship. The intimacy and sharing of life brings relief for the problem of isolation and loneliness” (NKJV Study Bible notes).
Who does the Bible encourage to provide this companionship?
The apostle Paul encouraged families to care for the needs of their own family members across generations.
“But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God” (1 Timothy 5:4).
While this passage may be specifically about providing for financial needs, the principle of honoring and caring for family members includes seeking to meet emotional needs as well. Being part of a family should mean having loving support and companionship.
- Fellow Christians:
All of us should care for those in need:
- “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
- “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
- “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10).
- “Distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality” (verse 13).
- “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (verse 15).
God encourages and is pleased by Christian brotherhood and fellowship. The book of Malachi gives a behind-the-scenes look at God’s response:
“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name” (Malachi 3:16).
Of course, God does not intend for us to just wait for others to reach out to us. We can reach out to others. If you are lonely, you can understand how much other lonely people need friendship. Be that friend, and you can enjoy the benefits as well. Practice the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31).
We can ask God for help in building our human relationships. The Bible tells us: “God sets the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6). This applies to physical families, church families and, ultimately, His family. See “Building Strong Families,” “Christian Fellowship” and related articles.