A major part of the human condition is loneliness. It should come as no surprise that every human to ever walk on planet Earth will struggle with and experience the feeling of being lonely. This is something that has been built into us by our Creator; a longing for connection to Him that cannot be satisfied apart from Him. But we regularly try and fail to do so.
I am no stranger to feeling lonely. I have been in a house surrounded by people and still felt that tingling feeling in my belly that had nothing to do with the bean dip. That hollow, anxious feeling has everything to do with my natural longings for God, and when I seek to fill that thirst with anything but Him I am always left wanting.
The truth is, people are lonely. And I honestly used to believe the only cure for this was marriage. For whatever reason, at a young age, I began looking at marriage as the only answer to the loneliness problem, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. There are millions of men and women walking around feeling very incomplete, very lonely, and they’ve been married for years. How can this be? Because they aren’t (we aren’t) seeking God for fulfill our basic needs. We’re trying to do it all on our own, in our own power, and we’re failing miserably.
When people talk about looking to God to meet our human needs, I often roll my eyes. It sounds so super spiritual and so absolutely impossible! How can someone I don’t see fulfill my need for a hug? Is He going to sit with me on my couch and watch Will and Grace? Am I supposed to hold hands with Jesus and walk around the mall picking out China patterns and expect other people NOT to call the police and arrest me for being crazy town? This concept has alluded me for a while, and I have honestly just pushed it to the back of my mind as something super spiritual Christians say to make me feel worse about being single. But today, I realize, there is actual validity in seeking God for every single one of my needs, especially the need to not feel like I am alone.
Consider the Samaritan woman at the well who greets Jesus in John 4. Jesus asks her for water and she is shocked (because of her heritage and the discrimination of her people by the Jews) that he is even talking to her. She tells Jesus of her shock, and his response is what I want us to look at:
(John 4:10-17, NIV)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 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.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirstyand have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
First of all, Jesus is always such a G when he speaks in scripture. He never minces words, and he isn’t doing it here either. In so many words, he’s calling this woman out for a sin that many of us (myself included) commit on a daily basis. Look at her track record: she’s been seeking fulfillment and satisfaction from men. She’s been looking for love to meet her needs and every time (five and counting) she has not found the cure for her deep-rooted, hollow loneliness. And Jesus tells her that if she would just draw water from Him (go to Him for her satiation) she will never ever be thirsty again.
Now, it’s interesting that in our modern culture people call women who appear to be desperate for marriage or a man “thirsty”. I believe this term is accurately used, but not only for women. I actually believe every human, no matter what status in life, is thirsty. We are all desperate for the satisfaction and fulfillment only God can provide, and yet, we look to be filled by our relationship status, our jobs, our friends, our calendars, our skills, and our technology. We are chasing after cup after cup of water that will only continue to make us thirsty. And God is offering Himself as a never-ending well of water for us to drink from daily!
What does this mean for us then? What is the application here?
It means for me that when I am feeling that empty pit in my stomach and I know it’s not a hunger pang, I am going to purpose myself to stop what I am doing and ask God what He wants me to do to satisfy that thirst. This action will happen instead of what I usually do: either wallow in the pain or choose an activity that I think will meet the need. Neither one is helpful and I find myself thirsty all over again.
If we believe God will supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19) then we must also believe that He will show us where and how to get those needs met when we seek Him first (Matthew 6:33). God is capable of telling you when you need to call an old friend or take a nap. He is capable of telling you when you need to read a book or cook a meal for someone. He is capable, in short, of letting you know exactly how to quench the thirst of loneliness. It’s not always going to be Him saying “Be still”! He knows we need people and socialization! He built us to need and want those things (look at Jesus while he was here on Earth- He was mighty social!) Also, it’s not always going to look like you think it will. Again, I say, I thought for a very long time that the cure for loneliness was marriage. And I am SO glad God is tearing down that lie and replacing it with truth. Marriage is a beautiful part of life, but not the main event. AND NOT A CURE. (More on this in a separate post).
At any rate, my homework for myself is to turn to God and ask Him first how to satisfy my loneliness when I am feeling it. And I firmly believe that’s a thirst He is more than capable of quenching again and again.
All my love,