The songs play it. The movies portray it. Even our church services have their part to play. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yeah, well what if it isn’t? For many people, holidays bring up painful memories.
Sore spots from childhood or the loss of loved ones hit hard during this sentimental season. While many people celebrate the joys of Christmastime, others suffer lonely holidays.
During one of the most desperate times of King 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).
David felt very alone.
His situation offers encouragement to us during lonely holidays.
David Let it All Out to God
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. (Psalm 142:3)
In Hebrew, the word You is emphatic, meaning only God truly understood David’s pain. From the depths of the cave where he hid, David cried aloud, “You are my refuge” (Psalm 142:5). David’s words illustrate the tension between anguish of soul and dependence on God.
(Photo: By Elliot Moore from London, England. CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Our 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” (Psalm 139:3).
What To Do During Lonely Holidays
Because loneliness can create an emotional vacuum in our hearts, it’s helpful to get outside of ourselves for some perspective. Here are 2 suggestions:
- Go to a good, Bible-teaching church and worship God. Drink deeply of the truth taught. God is the solution to your loneliness, not people or busyness. Focus on Him and the grace He gave you in Jesus Christ.
- Volunteer at church or in the community to help others. (Not to feel good about yourself, but really to help others. If you serve to get thanked, you may feel you aren’t thanked enough.)
(Photo: By Ayadm. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
How to Think about Holiday Loneliness
David models for us that the lonely holidays—and any seasons of loneliness—are the times to reaffirm what we know to be true, in spite of what we feel is true. When we feel alone—and I mean really, really alone—we must cling to the Lord’s promises:
- God will never abandon you. He will never fail you. He will never forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8; Matthew 28:20; John 14:18).
- By removing everything but Himself, the Lord may be teaching you a truth David affirmed: “You are all I really want in life” (Psalm 142:5 NLT).
- Lonely times are times to seek refuge in God through prayer. They’re not the times to seek the world’s solutions.
Loneliness is God’s call for us to draw near to Him.