If you were in the midst of a struggle with deep loneliness and I told you I could relate because I experienced two weeks of loneliness, would that hold much weight with you? Probably not. What if instead, I told you that I experienced years of loneliness and can easily remember the pain and the times I cried out to God begging him to send just one good friend into my life. Does that change things? I believe it does.
I dealt with loneliness in my life during a time when I was living on my own, raising my son, and working very hard to get through nursing school and work a part time job. I was surrounded by others and stayed very busy, but I did not have even one close friend. It was a painful time in many ways and I just couldn’t understand why God was allowing it; especially for what seemed like such a long time.
However, it was during those years that I dug deep into God. I had been a believer for a while and trusted that God knew my struggles and would provide for me (even if I didn’t appreciate his time table). I read his Word and held tight to his promises, like God being a “Father of the fatherless” in Psalm 68:5 and the comforting words of “I will never leave you or forsake you.” in Hebrews 12:5. Did I still struggle with anger and bitterness? You bet, but even then God was patient and faithful.
I now look back and nearly explode with thanksgiving in what I see God was doing in my life at that time. I praise him for giving me tools I never would have had if that time had been easy and without burdens. I can relate to so many more women now than ever before. Not just with loneliness but a slew of other difficulties too. I received real life experiences that equipped me to battle alongside other women today.
It has taken me years to admit to the depth of loneliness I experienced during that time, but as I pursue a ministry of transparency, I am finding that so many women are able to relate to my experience. I can minister to them because God led me through this fire early on in life. He let me go through years of pain so that I would remember it well. So that I can now hug a hurting woman and say to her, “I know how you feel, let me tell you what God did in my life.” God speaks to this in 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 -
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
What about you? What afflictions has God allowed in your life in order for you to better minister to others? Are you dealing with a chronic illness, a troubled marriage, or a difficult child? Do you feel like the situation will never end? This may be hard to grasp now, but God WILL use this for good in your life and very likely for the good of others too. Dig deep into him during this time and be determined to cling to Christ no matter what, knowing that you will receive comfort from him as promised above.
My life looks much different than it did back then, but I am so thankful for what God allowed and how he is faithful in using everything for my good and more importantly for his glory. I can now understand how what one day seems like such a heavy burden can later be seen as a gift. Don’t waste the gifts God is giving you right now. Use whatever is causing you pain to drive you toward Christ and turn what the Enemy planned for your harm into good. Maybe you know the pain of cancer, losing a child, or depression. God has allowed you to know this pain for a reason, don’t waste it.