Coping With Loneliness - Let Down & Turned Away
Coping with loneliness is often a byproduct of facing one of life's challenges. Your friends may not understand what it feels like to be in your situation unless they've been in that circumstance themselves. Perhaps they don't comprehend your challenges and may not know how they can help you. Therefore, your closest friends may let you down or turn their backs on you. My friends did. My life challenge is chronic pain. I developed a severe arm injury and was no longer capable of working in the manner in which I had previously worked. In spite of an exhaustive job search, I lost the career that I dearly loved.
Coping With Loneliness - Devastated & Alone
As I was coping with loneliness, it was hard not to compare my fate to that of Job from the Bible, with the loss of so many things that I held dear. Like Job, I had friends that were no friends at all. In the beginning, some were like Eliphaz and offered advice with statements like, "Strengthen your faith - just trust in God!" I was trusting God. However, that answer was not specific enough to help me find the solutions I needed at that time. God's grace is sufficient to meet all of our needs. However, that doesn't mean that the timing or the answers will be what we expect. In retrospect, I can see that God had moved on my behalf in all of the events that took place during this deep, dark valley of my life. But at the time, I was struggling to hear God's voice or see Him work, because the answers were not what I was seeking or expecting.
Later, Job's friends said that he needed to examine himself and find out where he had sinned so that he could repent of that sin. My friends did the same thing. Job's friends weren't specific about his sin, but mine were. They accused me of falsifying my arm symptoms and claiming fraudulent funds from my employer and the government. I wanted to ask them where they got their medical degrees? I wanted to ask them if they thought all six of my treating physicians would lie and jeopardize their licenses for me? I was very hurt that they would accuse me of lying and fraud, but mostly that they would think so little of my Christian witness. But all I could do in my defense was quote Proverbs 5:21: "For a man's ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines His paths." Erroneously, the world far too often equates health and prosperity with God's blessings; and suffering and pain with God's judgment.
I was devastated when these friends (who had known me for over 25 years) decided they didn't trust my honesty, integrity or Christian witness enough to stand beside me as my friends. I was deeply hurt by this rejection. And since this had been my social group, I felt very much alone.
Coping With Loneliness - The One Who Understands
As I was coping with loneliness at a very deep level, I was reading my Bible. It was there that scripture reminded me that the same thing happened to Jesus Christ in His darkest hour in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). He was all alone. Over the next several days, every time I felt discouraged or alone, I would open my Bible and it was as if words would jump right off the pages -- words that were specifically placed there to comfort me in my situation. Jesus met me in my need, at my point of pain.
I found comfort in the fact that Jesus experienced everything that we experience, and He knows exactly how we feel. He can comfort us because He's been there too. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He promises to stick closer to us than a brother. He says that if we call for help, He will say, "Here am I!"