I have seen this phrase help my thinking in countless ways over the years, but during this first term on the mission field, it was this phrase that really helped me through my struggle with loneliness.
If you are a frequent reader of my posts (you can read those here), you may be thinking that I struggled with loneliness because I am single. That’s what I signed up for when I went to the mission field as a single woman, right?
Well, I am here to say that I did not struggle with loneliness because I live by myself. Marital status has nothing to do with loneliness. I have known some married women with homes full of children who have struggled in this way as well.
As the newness of moving and getting settled into this new life wore off, I remember the realization of being “all alone” in my house. Immediately the feelings of loneliness began to creep in. I was so tempted to hold a very lonely and sad “pity party” for Baker – Party of 1! It wasn’t long before the Holy Spirit reminded me of several truths.
First, I was not alone! The Lord called me to this place, and He was with me (Hebrews 13:5). Praise God that as Christians we are NEVER alone! I was also reminded of that phrase from my childhood – “Be a blessing, not a burden.” Staying in my house and moping about life was not why I had moved across the ocean. The Lord had brought me here to be a blessing to people and to share the Gospel with them. This attitude of loneliness was rendering me ineffective in the work I was called to. I can’t be a blessing to people if I stay home and wallow in my loneliness.
So, I did what my dad taught us through that phrase – I went out and found some people to be a blessing to. The Lord brought me some of those people who asked me to come to their homes for some fellowship. Some of those times turned into regular Bible studies and visiting unsaved ladies.
See, this is what Paul was teaching us in Ephesians 4:1-3. Part of our calling in life is to serve others in a spirit of humility, meekness, and patience with a selfless heart of love all the while seeking unity and peace in these relationships. When I give in to loneliness and focus on myself, I can’t do any of those things Paul admonished us with in Ephesians 4. When I focus on myself and my loneliness, I am a distinctly miserable person who is rendered completely ineffective in my work for the Lord!
You would think this struggle was all over once I got it under control early in my time in England, right? Unfortunately, it is not something that is a “one and done” spiritual battle for me. Especially when Covid hit in 2020, I struggled with this yet again, but maybe not in the way you would imagine.
A week before the world shut-down, my sweet mom stepped off a chair the wrong way and shattered her ankle. We didn’t know at the time, but this injury would leave her non-weight bearing on that ankle for at least twelve weeks after a surgery to install thirteen screws and two rods. She would have a subsequent surgery with a necessary bone graft as well. It was a very trying time for her and for our very close-knit family.
I was feeling very isolated and alone on the other side of globe just sitting in my house while she was suffering through all these things. We considered whether I should return to the States to help her, but God impressed on my heart that I should stay in the UK. Of course, looking back, we know the rest of the Covid shut down story and how all that played out for travel and such. Coming back to the States for that prolonged time would have jeopardized my visa status in the UK.
What I can see now is that my loneliness and longing to be with my mother was exactly what I needed. God assured me that He had her all taken care of, and there were some people I needed to be a blessing to in England during the pandemic. I got to witness to all my neighbors and several other people in my neighborhood because of Covid. I would have missed all of that if I had come home to help my mom or given in my loneliness and not reached out during a very strange time in life. I don’t know why Mom needed to break her ankle or why we all needed to navigate a global pandemic, but I know that God has it all under control, and He is using those things in our lives to reach out to people for eternity.
I am not naïve enough to believe that everyone can and should navigate their struggle with loneliness the same way I have. But I do know that we serve a faithful God who promises to be with you in the struggle. You can trust Him! May I encourage you when you feel the temptation to wallow in your loneliness to first reach out to the Lord for help! Read the Psalms, and you will see that David often cried out to the Lord in very difficult circumstances. And then ask God to help you minister to someone else. It will help your perspective and may even send that loneliness packing all on its own!
Have you struggled with loneliness, and if so, what were your go-to Bible verses?
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