God sets the lonely in families (Ps 68:6)
This was the verse that came to me one Saturday morning. As I wiped our dining table, the lonely feeling that had been knocking me down for days resurfaced.
Even though my husband was literally just a few feet away on the couch (clear proof that I wasn’t alone), it made little difference at that moment. I was longing for the kind of soul-nourishing intimacy that comes with female friendships—the willingness to listen and talk at length, the gentle tone, the comforting hug or touch on the shoulder, and most of all, hearing them say, “I know what you mean” or “Yeah, me too!”
As an introvert, I felt like I had done what I could, as much as I could for most part, to fight my instinct to withdraw and avoid the anxiety-inducing activity of socialising with new people. Since moving to a new country to get married a year ago, I’ve met some new and old friends, signed up for classes, and tried to connect with new people by making a handful of awkward exchanges (i.e., small talk that peters out after a few lines followed by long, painful pauses).
There have been small rewarding moments on occasion, but also distinct moments where I’m sitting in a group, feeling either tongue-tied or disconnected from the conversation. I found myself longing desperately for my friends back home, frustrated that I couldn’t see them, worried that by the time we meet again, we wouldn’t be able to pick up from where we left off.
So, for the umpteenth time, I turned to God.
God, I’m so lonely. I need my friends. I need a friend. Just one. Someone whom I can talk to and be vulnerable with. Who can see what’s in my heart.
I’m your friend. You can talk to me. I see what’s in your heart.
But You’re not here, my inner child whined. Not physically anyway. I need a physical person. I’m human, God. I need a body.
There was a pause. Then I remembered the verse.
What does it mean, God, that You set the lonely in families? I obviously have family, but . . . what does it mean that the answer to my loneliness is family?
I could sense that I had walked into a “hard question” corner again, and I knew from experience that there was no forcing the answer on the spot, so I left it at that and moved on with the rest of my day.
Finding Friendship in an Unexpected Place
That night, I was scheduled to meet with a couple of people from our church’s music ministry for an audition. Deciding to sing during COVID doesn’t sound like the smartest decision, and the anxious person in me was threatening to back out at the last minute, but thanks to my fear of being a flake and my husband’s encouragement, I went.
After they had me sing a couple of songs, we sat down for what I thought would be a quick chat. Then the conversation took a turn for the deep end when they began asking me about the Bible study group I was in, my spiritual gift, and the different ministries that I could potentially explore. I was surprised and heartened that these ladies were asking all these questions about me, even though they weren’t related to the music ministry.
After an hour of talking and listening to each other’s stories, they offered to pray for me. And as one of them prayed, she said something along these lines—”God, we come to You, for in You there is no lack—we lack nothing. You are our refuge and hope . . . You know what is in our sister’s heart . . .”
I don’t remember the exact words she used, but the message was very clear—in God, we lack nothing. We want nothing. He knows and gives everything we need. And in that moment, I wept. Here was the physical person God had sent to speak the words He had wanted to say from the start, words that I needed to hear but had insisted to hear audibly. I felt seen and heard. I felt comforted, to know that the ultimate answer to loneliness isn’t simply to go out and meet people—it is to dwell in God, the only person who lacks nothing and can completely satisfy.
Finding My Place in God’s Family
That night I went home comforted and encouraged. And in our last exchange on WhatsApp, one of the ladies asked me to keep them posted on my Bible study group and our prayer life, which gave me an opening for accountability.
God had shown me how I was part of His family. His response to loneliness is to point us to His body—the church, and remind us that by reaching out to them, we can be connected; by seeing where we might be needed, we can step out of our solitude and give, and in giving ourselves, we receive as well.
All this is possible because we share the same God who supplies all our needs (Philippians 4:19). I am reminded yet again that this is not the first time God has answered my prayer so directly, and it certainly won’t be the last. He is the God who sees and hears, and so I can continue to pray earnestly and specifically.
Even though I’ve yet to see my new friends again, that fateful meeting with them has encouraged me to initiate more conversations and meetups with the people who are already in my circle, whether it’s my colleagues, or people in my Bible study group, or old acquaintance friends that I’ve not seen for some time. The times I’ve felt lonely again have become reminders for me to message someone I haven’t talked to for a while, to ask how she is, and how I can pray for her.
Dear reader, if you too are in a season of loneliness, ask God to place you in His family—to bring you opportunities to connect with fellow believers, to remove any fear and anxiety of getting rejected or becoming disconnected, and to trust that He is truly our friend.
Don’t give up on wrestling with God on the hard questions and difficult moments in your life. He can take it, and He will take care of you.