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.

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)

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.

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.

About the author


Wayne Stiles

Wayne Stiles received his master of theology in Pastoral Ministries and doctor of ministry in Biblical Geography from Dallas Theological Seminary. In 2005, after serving in the pastorate for 14 years, Wayne joined the staff at Insight for Living Ministries, where he led a team of writers, editors, and pastors as the executive vice president and chief content officer. Wayne currently serves as an adjunct instructor at Dallas Theological Seminary and as a freelance editor and writer. He writes a popular ministry blog that can be found at Wayne and his wife, Cathy, live in Aubrey, Texas, and have two daughters.

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