Dealing with Holiday Loneliness

It’s true. For many people, the holidays draw up painful memories. Sore spots from childhood or the loss of loved ones hit them hard during this sentimental season. While many people celebrate the joys of Christmastime, others suffer its loneliness.

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During one of the most desperate times of David’s life, the anointed future king of Israel found himself running from two separate enemies—hardly a time to celebrate. With the Philistines to the west and King Saul to the east, a distressed David sought refuge in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1–2). From all human perspectives, David was alone. He expressed how he felt in the form of a prayer:

For there is no one who regards me. . . .
No one cares for my soul. (Psalm 142:4, NASB)

But David also said,

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
You knew my path. (142:3)

In Hebrew, the word You stands emphatic, meaning only God truly understood David’s pain. From the depths of this cave, David cried aloud, “You are my refuge” (142:5).

David’s words illustrate the tension between anguish of soul and dependence on God. Desperate aloneness often feels like a prison—as it did to David. Desperate thoughts and actions often follow. But when we feel overwhelmed and lonely, we can remember that the Lord is present and is “intimately acquainted with all [our] ways” (139:3). Regardless how we feel, God’s Word promises this is true.

He has not left us alone.

David models for us that the lonely seasons are the times to seek refuge in God through prayer. They’re not the times to seek the world’s solutions. The Lord often teaches us during these struggles by removing everything but Himself—a truth David affirmed: “You are all I really want in life” (142:5 NLT).

So when we feel alone—and I mean really, really alone—we must cling to the Lord’s promises that He will never abandon us . . . never fail us . . . and never forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8; Matthew 28:20; John 14:18).

Loneliness is God’s call for us to draw near to Him.1Adapted from Wayne Stiles, “You’re Only Lonely,” in Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible (Ventura, Calif.: Regal, 2006), 131. Used by permission.

What helps you during lonely times? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Notes:   [ + ]

1. Adapted from Wayne Stiles, “You’re Only Lonely,” in Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible (Ventura, Calif.: Regal, 2006), 131. Used by permission.
  • Gina Marie

    “Loneliness is God’s call for us to draw near to Him.”
    This was great, thanks to both Colleen and Wayne.

    • Gina,
      You are so welcome. I thought of you the other day and sent a note but it didn’t make it to the page. Just wanted you to know how special you are, how much you mean to me and to those who read of your journey. You offer such warmth, acceptance, wisdom, and grace; both in word and between the lines. I pray this upcoming year is one of lighter burdens, greater laughter, and more joy than you have felt in a long time. Have a wonderful day and Happy New Year! Colleen

      • Gina Marie

        Thank you so much, Colleen. Children with their Dad for Christmas/New Year week. Enjoying my first day to myself yesterday, no plans to be ‘responsible’ for anything over the next few days which is the best rest for me. Been responsible while so many others have continued irresponsibly for so long. Miss the kid’s dad that was, but not who he has allowed himself to become. Seeing all family at his sister’s wedding New Year’s eve, strange and surreal life I live at present. My prayer for myself at present is to be/feel whole again and contentment in all things, circumstances and relationships (as opposed to resentfully ‘putting up with’). I think my prayer for you might be the same as your’s for me. Here’s to easy pairing with our Saviour, lighter burdens, and joy, laughter and peace for us both. Thank you for thinking of me and Happy New Year, Gina

        • Gina,
          Without going into much detail, I assume this year has been extremely difficult for you…it has been for us. Your prayer…to be content in all things instead of tolerating and resenting them is filled with wisdom. Yes, that is mine too. Regardless of what the year holds, I do want to find that playful, insightful, and rested place; one that holds an eternal perspective while being fully alive in each moment. I’m sure we both will have many opportunities for this to be challenged = ) . I continue to treasure your thoughts and enjoy our interactions; I hope they continue throughout this next year. May you enjoy the quiet moments and be rested in your spirit over the holiday season. Blessings, Colleen

        • Gina, Just wanted to say I’m thought of you today as we watched the Australian celebration of 2015. Happy New Year and may the Lord be your presence and joy in the days ahead. You are so precious to me. Colleen

  • Jolene Philo

    In my darkest holiday moments as the parent of a child with special needs, the fact that God the Father and God the Son has also experienced my pain and my child’s brought deep comfort. Thanks for sharing the wisdom in this post at DifferentDream.com’s Tuesday special needs link up.

  • Jolene,
    As always, you are very welcome. It’s a joy to work together and help others. Praying for you always. Colleen

  • Katie McGhee

    This was beautiful and hit right on the money for me. I lost my best friend right before Thanksgiving to suicide, and I miss him more and more each day. This break has been extremely difficult because last year I spent Christmas with him and his family. This gave me inspiration, and helped remind me that I am not alone. Thank you.

    • Oh my dear Katie,
      I am deeply moved by your loss….so sorry for the empty void you have been enduring through the holidays and I imagine it has continued. There is nothing to fix sorrow except to go through it…how I wish it were an easier path but it’s hard. May God provide you with His abounding grace, unlimited mercy, tremendous comfort, and carry you through this dark season. I hope you feel you can write anything you feel here…the healing process can’t be done alone. I pray you have a good support network…even a friend or two who will let you “be” as you walk this road. My heart goes out to you; I’m so glad to know this writing brought you comfort. Many struggle through the holidays so you are not alone. I hope to hear from you again sometime. Thank you for trusting me with your heart’s voice. May the Lord be ever nearer to you today. Colleen