When Loneliness Feels Like It’s Swallowing You Whole

If you have ever felt the sting of loneliness for any period of time, you understand this truth: loneliness does not mean being alone.

Loneliness may impact us most deeply when we are in a crowd of people.

That’s because loneliness is a heart issue.

God created us to know Him and be fully known by Him on an intimate basis. Crowds are superficial, not intimate. Even those who know us best still do not know or understand the deepest and most desperate desires of our heart.

Although Jesus was God in the flesh, He experienced acute loneliness. In the hour of His greatest need as He hung on the cross of our making, the disciples abandoned Him. Even God the Father turned His back on His only Son so that God’s full wrath could be poured out on Jesus to be judged once and for all.

Jesus even taught His disciples about loneliness by talking about events that had not yet occurred:

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:32–33

Jesus is the friend who lays down His life for His friends (John 15:13–15), sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), and who has promised never to leave us nor forsake us but to be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Every believer has the presence of God in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. He lives in us and is our interpreter with God. In Christ, even though we may feel lonely, we are never alone.

Loneliness Is Not Depression

When people asked me how I felt during my time of divorce seven years ago, I found it difficult to discern between loneliness and depression. After looking up definitions and reading a few helpful articles, they were easier to identify.

Loneliness doesn’t feel good, but we are still able to function and carry on the tasks of everyday life. On the other hand, depression inhibits our ability to function.

Loneliness says, “I don’t want to get up and go to work.” Depressions says, “I can’t get up and go to work.”

Loneliness is more of a state of mind, whereas depression translates physically. My lack of appetite for a period of time was due to mild depression, not loneliness.

Loneliness can certainly lead to depression if it continues unchecked over long periods of time. That’s why those friends who stop by and insist on getting you out of the house even when you don’t feel like it are truly life savers.

Two Dangers of Loneliness

Two common phrases come to mind when we feel the effects of loneliness: (1) “I need to keep busy to keep my mind off of it,” and (2) “I need to find someone so I don’t feel so lonely.” The first is common, the second can be dangerous, and neither are the long-term solutions.

1. Busyness

Most of us battle loneliness with busyness. But at some point, the busyness subsides, and then what? Although non-stop activity can ease your stress and temporarily distract you from feeling overwhelmed, eventually you need to slow down and let the Lord heal your heart.

Allow God to work in the silence what you have covered up by noise. Otherwise, you will careen into the nearest wall at 200 mph in full-blown burnout.

2. Replacement Love

It’s normal to find yourself longing for someone to assuage feelings of loneliness. However, it’s dangerous when you look for that someone in all the wrong places — especially if you are married and that someone is not your spouse.

Instead of giving in and letting neediness make us vulnerable, ask God to shift your focus. Pursue interests that perhaps you have put aside.

I rekindled my interest for travel and photography with enthusiasm and have since have traveled to many states and countries.

I also spent significant time investing in my relationship with the Lord through increased personal Bible study, worship, attending conferences, retreats, and listening to sermon/Bible study podcasts. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this investment.

Once you center your life in Christ and gain confidence without relying on horizontal relationships, you will be in a much better place spiritually and emotionally to embrace a new, healthy relationship when the Lord opens that door.

Declare War on Loneliness

You don’t have to live with loneliness. Period. Although it will inevitably happen, you don’t have to resign yourself to feeling like that until the Lord calls you home. We find the antidote in Scripture:

The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14 (NKJV)

The “secret of the Lord” is what God calls His people. They are those Jesus-loving special friends that every Christian needs. The word “secret” doesn’t mean a hush-hush utterance—it references our close, intimate friends who fear the Lord and with whom we share our joys, sadness, weaknesses, and strengths.

They are the friends you let into your messy home while you’re wearing sweats and no makeup. They are the precious few where we can confide real issues in real time.

We need those secrets of the Lord in our life to declare war on loneliness. Their love may look like chatting over a cup of coffee, but in the spiritual realm it’s like an impenetrable shield of love surrounding you in faith against the enemy’s darts of loneliness.

Loneliness can erect significant barriers that prevent God access to heal our heart and living life to the full.

The answer is short and simple: instead of giving into loneliness, lay claim to the nearness of God.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Thank you, Lord.

*This post is a revised excerpt from my book, Without This Ring: Surviving Divorce.

Without This Ring by Donna Pyle

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Pastors, Will You Forgive Us?

Pastors have a high and difficult calling.

There are few things that boil my blood faster or put me on a soap box quicker than when I hear God’s people hurling mean-spirited or spiteful comments at God-loving, servant-hearted pastors.

It gets ugly when the sheep turn on their shepherds.

And Satan, along with the world, watches. Smiling.

I love intentionally encouraging my pastors. When I see them at some evening function during the week ― whether it’s Bible class, a ministry event, or worship team rehearsal ― I’m fully aware that they may have faced a particularly tough day. Chances are the enemy has lobbed some fiery darts at them, whether it’s tough counseling sessions, disheartening church politics, or the death of a member.

They also have those joy-filled days when they perform baptisms, weddings, and celebrate confirmands. But those days happen far less than the rest.

It’s a privilege to convey to my pastors and pastor friends just how important they are to God’s work and His church ― to let these grace-filled men of courageous faith know how much they, their families, and their ministries mean to so many. But I end up getting chokey.

So … to my pastors, all my pastor friends, and your beautiful families:

You embrace the calling that crucifies you every day. Yet sometimes we are the ones pounding in the nails.

Please forgive us.

You take up the cross of Christ without hesitation, not because it’s a job, but because it’s your very calling, passion and life purpose. Yet sometimes we watch from comfortable pews without lifting a finger as you stumble under the weight of that responsibility alone.

Please forgive us.

You love us enough to sacrifice family time, cut short vacations, and be on call 24-7-365. Yet when you need to unplug and allow God to recharge you, we haughtily demand that you re-engage and make yourself available.

Please forgive us.

When life blindsides us with loss, relationship difficulties, health scares, or financial burdens, you are the first to offer prayer and call in the posse to help. Yet when you need us, we wear busyness as a badge to dodge.

Please forgive us.

You willingly live in a glass house with our faces pressed against it, gracefully shouldering our smart aleck remarks. Yet when you lovingly ask us accountability questions, our self-righteous indignation could choke God Almighty.

Please forgive us.

But I want to you know…

You are not expendable.

You are VITAL.
You are VALUABLE.
You are LOVED.

As you stand at the vanguard of deadly spiritual warfare, it’s an amazing privilege to stand in God’s army with you. To heartily encourage you when you’re weary. And to follow where God calls you to lead.

THANK YOU for your integrity and tireless commitment.

Church, when was the last time you prayed for your pastors?

C’mon, let’s encourage our pastors today.

When the World Rages: Forgiveness on this National Day of Prayer

I arrive home from work Tuesday last week and flip on the TV.

I root around in the fridge for ingredients to start dinner. It’s hamburger night.

There’s this red-faced lady ranting loud from the TV that the groomer cut her dog’s toenails way too short to paint. Now her dog will have to go without her springtime pink toenail color.

Her eyes bulge and neck veins pop. She’s thinking of suing.

My hands go still in that raw hamburger meat. The onion stings the cut on my pinky finger.

When did middle-of-the-road annoyance become the autobahn of anger?

While I’m smashing onions into hamburger patties, there’s people in this world smashing rage like derby cars into tender hearts. Head-on collisions causing scars that only Jesus can mend.

How can we show the love and forgiveness of Jesus when we can’t see through the broken windshields of misplaced rage?

The hamburgers sizzle loud in the skillet and I file that question in the recesses of a tired brain.

I wake up this morning and drive in pre-dawn darkness to this National Day of Prayer breakfast at a neighboring church.

In a world where rage seems normal, do people set the alarm early to gather in prayer aside from Sunday anymore?

Expecting two cars and five people, my headlights find a filling parking lot and people filing into the warmth of welcoming fellowship.

Twenty-somethings to eighty-somethings fill the chairs to bow in prayer as one voice. The rage-filled world fades.

The light of hope rises with the first rays of dawn.

We sing, we pray, and I share about the importance of forgiveness in a world that wants to hang onto revenge. Heads nod.

Seeing is believing, we say. If the raging world sees raging believers, how can they even conceive of a loving God who forgives?

We’d be relegated to permanent darkness if Jesus had raged instead of forgave on that Good Friday.

Only His good can overcome evil — because returning evil with evil just overcomes us.

Wherever the battle rages — desert war zones or some battle in our churches, communities, or marriages — we need to know that we don’t fight alone. Easter was God’s assurance that the One who lives in us is stronger than all the world’s rage.

Where the world rages, don’t condemn the shouters, curse the future, or pick a side — practice the forgiveness that Jesus taught. And in the practicing, we become what we preach — love in spite of the rage.

Loving the ragers like Christ loved the haters.

So on this National Day of Prayer, we thank God for His Son Jesus Christ, who sacrificed his Holy life to teach us how to live — and forgive.

Unforgiveness picks a side.

Forgiveness picks a person — the Person of Jesus Christ.

RELEASES MAY 9th: Pre-order to receive Chapter 1 before it releases, downloadable Scripture cards on forgiveness, a 31-day devotional, and Bible reading plan. Click here.

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Welcome!

Artesian Ministries LLC

Welcome, friends! After months of praying, planning, and coordinating, God has blessed me with a wonderful new website and blog. I hope you find it easy to navigate and easy for us to stay connected.

There are some exciting new things coming in the next few months, including a new book, a brand new DVD Bible study series, and an opportunity to be part of the live audience for the upcoming taping of a brand new Bible study series. But we’ll get there.

First, I just want to thank you. For being part of this crazy journey. For letting me into your lives to occupy your valuable time. For your encouragement, challenges, prayers, and so many other things.

I hope you will take time to poke around on my new website. There are free downloads for Bible study reading checklists under “In The Word” and a list of places we can connect in person under “Events.” Please take a moment to drop your email over to the right so we can continue talking about Jesus together.

Walking through life with you is a high privilege, because we follow the One who already carved our path.

So…thank you.

Until next time, I pray that God’s unsurpassing peace guards your heart and mind in Christ.

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