One of life’s greatest pain is the pain of loneliness and it is a pain that has visited, is visiting or will visit everyone in this room. I just want to begin by saying God never intended for us to experience loneliness.

In Genesis God created all of the heavens and earth, he said, ‘It’s good’ and when He created man He said, ‘It’s not good for man to be alone.’ Genesis 2:18.

Man had all the animals to have fellowship with and he even had an incredible relationship with God, but even at that, God said, ‘It is not good that he is alone.’

And so, God worked to meet that need by providing him with a wife and later telling him to multiply and have children, Genesis 2:21-22.

We all need time alone with God, but we weren’t created to live our lives in isolation from other people, we were created by God to need enriching personal relationships with others.

The curse of loneliness exists only because sin has entered into God’s creation and distorted this world into a place that God never intended it to be.

Not only has sin corrupted our ability to have the relationship with God that we are supposed to have. Sin has also impaired our ability to have rich relationships with our brothers and sisters. And the result is that this world is full of something that God said, ‘was not good.’

Loneliness is not the same thing, as being alone, as everybody knows. We can be surrounded by thousands of people and still be lonely, we could be in a room full of people and be lonely.

What Is Loneliness?

Loneliness is the feeling that the people who care for you aren’t there and the people who are there don’t care. Loneliness is the kid at the new school, who doesn’t know anybody. It is the girl in her house on another Friday night when nobody has called. It is the new mum with a sick baby who hasn’t been out of the house in three weeks.

It is the single who’s getting tired of people asking them what is wrong with them because they aren’t married. It is the kid just mindlessly watching the TV trying to block out the screaming in her parent’s bedroom. It is the woman who gets up every Sunday and comes to worship by herself with the kids because her husband won’t get out of bed.

It is the guy who just got transferred overseas. It is the person in the nursing home, who is hoping that somebody, anybody would come and visit today. It is the person who has just left the cemetery and is fixing supper for one.

And if you are the apostle Paul, loneliness is sitting in a dark, damp cold prison cell with everybody you care about gone and the people that are there, don’t care.

Paul’s Loneliness

2 Timothy was the last letter Paul ever wrote, probably written weeks or maybe just days before he was killed. And Paul is suffering from a struggle with loneliness he says ‘That the time for my departure has come’2 Timothy 4:6, he knows that he is about to die.

And we hear how he shares, how he is feeling when he talks to Timothy. I don’t know of any man who has ever been a finer Christian than the apostle Paul and if anybody deserved in his last days to be supported by loads of other believers it was Paul, but he wasn’t.

He was in a prison cell about to die and only Luke could get in occasionally to see him, and Paul was going through the pain of loneliness.

And one of the points I want to make is that some of God’s best people have been lonely. If you are lonely today, that isn’t a sin, that is part of what it means to live in this sin-perverted world. And some of the same things that caused his loneliness caused ours.


Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:6, ‘The time has come for my departure’, he was experiencing a significant transition in life getting ready for his death waiting in prison. Life is full of transitions that are going to bring loneliness and some of them we expect.

We get transferred to a new place in the company. We go to a new school, and we don’t know anybody. We have just had a baby and we’re home all the time. Or maybe we have just said, ‘Goodbye’ to our last child and we’re going through ‘empty nest’.

There are going to be some things in life that we know are coming that are going to be times of loneliness. But then there are going to be some things that we don’t know are coming.

It could be a divorce, and suddenly we are by ourselves. It could be a sudden illness and now our life is dramatically changed by our new handicap. Or I don’t know of an adjustment, which is harder to make, than losing our husband or wife.

A lot of us are married and the great majority of us are going to say, ‘Goodbye’ to our mate or they will say, ‘Goodbye’ to us. And we will spend some time adjusting to life without them. Some of us are in the midst of a real painful transition right now and maybe just knowing that transitions are a part of life helps.


There is another cause of loneliness and its ‘separation’. It comes when we are simply unable to be with the people we love. Our son has been sent overseas to an army base in Germany.

Or our daughter is living across the country with her babies because her husband has a new job. Or our children are off at college. Or maybe our dad has a job where he has to be away from the house three or four nights a week and we miss him, but he can’t help it.

Noticed how many friends Paul missed, he said, ‘Crescens is in Galatia, Titus is in Dalmatia, Tychicus is in Ephesus, Carpus is in Troas and Erastus is in Corinth and Trophimus was sick, I had to leave him, he didn’t want to leave me, he had too’. 2 Timothy 4:10-12. And Timothy has gone and that’s why he’s writing to him.

Separation can do a couple of things to us. Notice, it can make us really ‘appreciate other people’, he said, ‘Timothy, do your best to get here before winter, I want to see you so much.’ 2 Timothy 4:9.

We can almost take people for granted when we can see them every day, but suddenly they’re gone, and we realize how much we miss them.

And also notice that separation can make us ‘more forgiving of others’. Paul said, ‘Would you get Mark and bring him with you.’ 2 Timothy 4:11.

There was a time when Paul didn’t have much to do with Mark but when we’re lonely, suddenly we’re much more forgiving of the people you used to be around.

I wonder if I were to ask you to make a list of five people you wish you could see right away, how long it would take you to fill out that list? Probably not very long. Who would you love to see this week?

Separation is another part of life, it’s a reality, that we don’t have to like but we have to live with. We know that sometimes the people are not even gone.

Sometimes we are foolish, not to treasure the time we have right now with the people we love because we have no promise it will go on forever, and so separation can cause loneliness.


Opposition can cause loneliness. Paul said, ‘Alexander did me great harm,’ ‘He strongly opposed our message.’ 2 Timothy 4:14-15. I believe if we stand for Christ, we are probably going to have to stand alone much of the time.


Rejection can cause loneliness. We are going to get hurt by people and it is hard, especially when that hurt is ‘rejection’ that can cause loneliness. Notice Paul said, ‘Demas has deserted me because he loved this world’. 2 Timothy 4:10.

It is one thing when we get hurt by people who don’t love the Lord, but it is a totally different thing when people we count on to be our friends desert you.

Paul said, ‘At my first defence, no one supported me, but everyone deserted me.’ 2 Timothy 4:16. Paul didn’t mind dying for Jesus but what he did mind was dying alone.

Do you know when loneliness is the most painful? It is more painful when it is created by a broken promise. When that man had promised till death do us part, walks in one day and says, ‘I’m moving out’ and you find out, he’s got some girl at work half his age, he’s in love with.

When they had promised they would get up every morning and help you get the kids to worship, but they don’t. When your mum and dad say, ‘Yeh, we’ll be there, at the school activity, we’ll be there to watch you play’, but they are always so busy, they just never seem to make it. I don’t think loneliness is ever harder than when it is created by a broken promise.

Do you remember Job? In poor health, he lost all his finances, lost his family and his friends came to mock him, Job 19:19. That is loneliness and loneliness can be so painful, that people will turn to anything to cope with it.

They will try alcohol, why do you think pubs are so popular? People don’t go to pubs to drink because they can do that at home. No, they go to pubs to find anybody to talk to.

Why do people become workaholics? They are trying to fill up their life with something because it hurts too much when they are by themselves, and they realize there is nothing for them to look forward to.

I believe, one of the reasons immorality is so rapid is that people are desperate to be connected to somebody, they will pay almost any price to do it.

Turn To God

Before we try anything else, try turning to God, for one thing, ‘God understands loneliness’. I honestly believe that there has never been a more intensely lonely moment, than when Jesus hung on the cross and was deserted by His friends.

And so, Jesus understands what it is like to be absolutely alone, but not only does He understand, but ‘He genuinely cares’. We are never closer to God than when we are hurting, Psalm 34:18.

Paul was lonely, but I want us to know that Paul turned to God when he was lonely, and God gave him the strength to grow through the loneliness.

I want you to notice four things that Paul did, and we can do these things when we are in pain with loneliness.

Utilize Our Time

Doing nothing isn’t going to help, sitting around, and throwing ourselves a pity party, isn’t going to make the pain go away. I know feelings can influence our actions, but I also know that our actions can influence our feelings. And WE can decide to use that time to do things that are going to help with pain.

Notice Paul said, ‘I want you to bring my cloak; I want you to bring my scrolls and especially I want you to bring my parchments.’ 2 Timothy 4:13.

Paul refused to feel sorry for himself. If he was going to die in prison, Rome was going to have to kill him, he wasn’t going to help them do the job. If you are lonely, you ought to do what Paul did.

Take Care Of Ourselves

Paul said, ‘Bring my cloak, I’m cold, I want to be healthy.’ 2 Timothy 4:13. A lot of times when we start to feel sorry for ourselves, we let ourselves physically deteriorate and all that’s going to do is increase the depression. We need to take care of ourselves, stay active, and be healthy.

Mental Stimulation

Paul said, ‘Bring me my scrolls,’ 2 Timothy 4:13. He wanted something to read, he wanted something to keep his mind occupied. He refuses to just sit there and draw himself in and become an emotional wreck.

If we are struggling with loneliness, and we’re sitting there changing the channels for that junk on TV, that isn’t going to make us feel better.

We need to find something, positive and healthy that is going to challenge our minds and make us grow. And notice he said, ‘And especially bring my parchments’. 2 Timothy 4:13. He wanted the Scriptures. What Satan is going to do when we are lonely, is keep us out of the word of God.

Now why does Paul want the Scriptures? He is not working on a new sermon series, he’s not going to get to preach any more sermons, he’s about to be executed. He wants to spend time with God, and we need to do the same thing.

Minimize The Hurt

I don’t mean, we put on a silly smiley face and pretend that being lonely doesn’t hurt. I mean, for us to deny the temptation to wallow in that pain and allow it just to fester and grow.

Notice what Paul said, ‘In my first defence nobody supported me, everybody deserted me’. 2 Timothy 4:16. But then he said, ‘May it not be held against them.’ 2 Timothy 4:16.

Paul refused to let his loneliness, grow into bitterness and resentment at the people who created it. That is so important if we are going through loneliness right now. A lot of times, what we’re tempted to do is pull inward, and get angry, and get upset at all the people we think are letting us down.

But do you know what happens? When we turn into a resentful, bitter person, all we’re doing is becoming more unpleasant and people don’t want to be around us.

If we believe that getting angry and bitter and resentful at people who have hurt us is going to help us, we’re not hurting them, we’re hurting ourselves.

Life is going to have its share of hurts, the issue is, how are you going to respond to it? Paul chose to focus on what he had, instead of what he lost. He said, ‘They weren’t there, but the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.’ 2 Timothy 4:17.

Recognise God’s Presence

Did you know that a Christian can be lonely but it’s absolutely impossible for a Christian to be alone? When we are hurt, it could be the hurt of loss, it could be the hurt of illness, it could be the hurt of betrayal, it could be the hurt of loneliness. When we are hurt, Satan wants to spread the lie, that ‘God has abandoned us.’

Paul lost his friends, but he never lost his grip on the truth, 2 Corinthians 4:9. Jesus never lost His grip on the truth, John 16:32. The Hebrew writer never lost their grip on the truth, Hebrews 13:5.

We live in a culture of depersonalization and most of the time when we make a phone call, we are just a number, we talk to a recorded voice, and we’re a computer readout.

But the Bible says, ‘That’s not how it is in heaven.’ God is so intimately aware of us, He can tell us right now how many hairs are on our head, Matthew 10:30, but not only that He knows us.

I heard a story about a little boy who practised saying the Lord’s Prayer and he said, ‘Our Father who are in heaven, how did you know my name?’ God is absolutely aware of everything we are going through, we are not alone, we may feel lonely, but we are not alone.

What would really help us when we hurt is to tune in to the comfort and presence of God. How do I do that?

We’ve Got To Desire It

We need to start the day by saying, ‘God, what I really want today is, to be so aware of you today.’ Psalm 27:4. We’ve got to desire it, and then we’ve got to dedicate time to it, dedicate time for seeking the presence of God, Jeremiah 29:13 / Psalm 25:14.

No matter what else happens, it could always be us and Jesus. And what is going to happen is, when we start focusing on the Lord, instead of all our loneliness. Suddenly we are going to be able to look at other people in a healthy way too.

Emphasise On The Needs Of Others

To help us with loneliness, we need to emphasise other people’s needs. Paul said, ‘The Lord is by my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and all the Gentiles might hear it.’ 2 Timothy 4:17.

Even in prison, Paul was focusing on how other people’s needs could be met through the Gospel. I will tell you the single best way to heal a hurt, minister to somebody else’s hurt with love.

When we get hurt or when we are lonely, we could just block it all up inside or we can re-channel that love and pour it out on somebody else.

There is a sense in which loneliness is a choice because there is a world of people needing to be loved. And what we can do when we are lonely is say, ‘God, show us somebody that needs a hug today, and we’ll go and give it to them.’ I believe the cure for loneliness is receiving and releasing the love of Christ.


Do you know what some of us need to do today? We need to let Jesus love us, I’m not saying let Jesus save us because you are willing to do that, I’m saying, ‘We need to let Jesus love us’. People are still going to hurt us, but we are going to be more aware of His promise in Matthew 28:30 ‘I am with you always.’

I have had my share of hurt in my life but sadly I have done my share of hurting, but I can tell you for a fact, that I’ve not been alone, because Jesus keeps His promise that ‘He is with us always.’