Singlehood may be for some, but not loneliness
Delphne Tan // February 16, 2020, 12:25 am
In the week leading up to our first women’s Bible study, I was overwhelmed by an inexplicable loneliness. I was not alone, but I felt it.
The thing with loneliness is that it isn’t just a strong feeling, but an assault against my identity. Loneliness, coupled with singleness, often leads me to make irrational conclusions as to why I’m single.
It’s a really odd thing, because when I think about it rationally, there are so many benefits to being single.
But all rational thought is chucked out the window whenever my loneliness sets in. I feel so empty when these moments wash over me, and suddenly all the benefits of singlehood cannot match what my friends who are married or attached have.
When loneliness overtakes me, there is a tendency to look within myself: I become overly pensive about my behaviour, my looks, my friendships, my singleness. It’s tempting to wallow in my self-pity, reopen cans of self-criticism and let the ugly thoughts overflow again.
But in this last week of praying and reading my Bible, God encouraged me through the stories of two women in the Word.
The first was Hagar, the servant of Sarai and Abram. She was a single woman without a family of her own and a foreigner. Because Sarah remained barren, she decided that Abram would sleep with Hagar so that he would have an heir.
The Bible does not tell us Hagar’s thoughts on the matter. But she might have felt manipulated, or realised it was an opportunity to move up from a servant to a child-bearer.
When she became pregnant, she grew disdainful of Sarai, who then regretted her choice and began to think of ways to get rid of Hagar. Sarai treated her so harshly to the point that Hagar, a foreign single mum in the wilderness, had to flee from her.
How lonely she must have felt! Her dreams of the future had been crushed, she had to carry the pain of being mistreated and now also the fear of an uncertain future with her child.
There was no one who could understand her – until the angel of the Lord “found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur” (Genesis 16:7).
I love that God pursued and found Hagar. And even though God knew that Abram’s line would be continued by Isaac, He named Hagar’s son Ishmael, and told Hagar that her son would live and thrive.
And Hagar said of God: “You are the God who sees me.”
What mercy and grace! I’m so blown away by this encounter with God and how Hagar could call upon a new name of the Lord, El Roi. In her loneliness, God pursued her, and showed her that He is a God who sees her.
Likewise, God sees us in our loneliness. What a comforting reminder it is to know we are never really alone. So in moments of loneliness, we can call upon the name of the Lord, El Roi, and receive His comfort and promises.
The other story takes place at another well in the Bible, where God meets with a broken woman. This woman was also “single” in a sense, but as Jesus gently called her out, she had been struggling with five romantic relationships.
Village women would often gather in the mornings to draw water from the well because it was cooler (if you’ve ever been in noonday heat in Israel, the sun literally burns through your skin).
But this woman went to the well at noon, alone. Being involved in so many complicated relationships might explain why she chose not to go with other women to draw water from the well, to avoid the gossip and looks.
Jesus is waiting at the well of your heart to heal your loneliness.
But on this particular day, a different man waited by the well for her. This Jewish man, ignoring all social rules, spoke to the Samaritan woman and told her everything she ever did.
What struck me was that Jesus knew her. He knew she would be at the well, so He waited there. He knew about her broken relationships and her loneliness. He knew what she needed the most was living water from the Messiah.
Her encounter with Jesus was so profound that she immediately ran off to tell the entire village about the Messiah. Where she was lonely and an outcast before, many received hope because of her. Jesus stayed to teach, and so many became believers because of this woman’s testimony.
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14)
Jesus is waiting at the well of your heart to heal your loneliness. He knows us deeply, and He offers us living water for true satisfaction. All we have to do is come to Jesus in our loneliness and drink from this water.
What does it mean to drink? I believe it’s about intentionally spending time with Him, being filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s when His truths sink into us so that the lies of loneliness can be pushed out!
Jesus knows deep loneliness. He lived it. The beauty of walking through life with Christ is that He is a God who sees us, knows us and empathises with us.
So if you’re struggling with loneliness, I pray you will come to know God deeply. He is with you, and He is pursuing you. Let Him tear down your fortress of loneliness and guardedness.
I pray that when you step out beyond those walls, you will taste the joys of community and see the beauty of life He has created. May you be deeply anchored in the promise that God walks beside you, behind you and in front of you.
You are hemmed in on all sides with His love and grace.
This article was first published on Delphne’s blog and has been republished with permission.
THINK + TALK
- What lies of loneliness do you struggle with?
- Do you believe that God is a God who sees you?
- How much time do you spend drinking from the living water?
- Know someone who may be feeling lonely? How can you share God’s love with them this week?