“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people.” Psalm 118:8 (NLT)
I carefully lifted my windshield wiper to retrieve the frozen pink rose that cold Valentine’s Day years ago. A freshman in college, I had stopped by my car to eat a snack between my morning classes and excitedly wondered who sent me this surprise. My heart pounded in anticipation.
Starting up the engine for warmth, I rubbed my palms together before opening the attached card. The rose was from … my mom. Her words in the card were kind and encouraging. So why did I still feel empty inside?
The truth was, I wished the rose was from a secret admirer. A young man, not my mom. Since my last date had been an embarrassing dud, spaced far after the previous one, I longed for a new romance to fill me up. My guilt and loneliness combined into a frustrating mixture.
I felt like a cup with no bottom.
No matter what I put inside the cup, I didn’t feel full. Roses, chocolate, books, TV shows, fantasies and even relationships couldn’t fill it. Loneliness seemed to be the only thing filling that bottomless space, and I was weary of its constant, haunting presence.
My parents divorced when I was 4 years old, and the day my daddy left was the day loneliness took up permanent residence in my heart and mind. Though I wished it would go away, I had no power to push it out the door. Loneliness lingered every time I craved love and attention that was in such short supply.
Then in high school, I developed resentment over the flowers and gifts I saw lined up in the cafeteria every February 14. None of them were for me. I believed the devil’s whispered lie — None of them will ever be for you. You’ll always be lonely.
About 15 years after that frozen-rose morning, I sat in a counselor’s office. After listening to my stories of constant loneliness, he observed, “Relationships are very important to you, aren’t they?” His simple, judgment-free question was a pivotal point in my spiritual journey.
A few days after the counseling session, God nudged me with a new idea: Perhaps relationships were too important to me. Though I was a wife, mother of three and friend to many, I still felt lonely. But God was showing me a truth I needed to learn from His Word: “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people” (Psalm 118:8).
For far too long, I had looked to people to fill me. But my husband, children, best friend and small group companions couldn’t remove my loneliness. They were never designed to completely fill my needs. I began to realize only God could serve as my refuge, my safe place and my salvation.
Though people are wonderful, they are not infinite. They aren’t always available when we need them, and none of them provide perfect understanding.
However, God is infinite (Revelation 1:8), ever present (Deuteronomy 31:6) and all-knowing (1 Chronicles 28:9). As we study His ways, we learn God is ready, able and willing to fill us up with His love. We learn this best by hiding away with Him in a place of refuge.
The more time I spent in God’s presence, the less I depended on relationships to meet all my needs. Time with loved ones became bonuses on top of the loving intimacy I enjoyed with Jesus. I no longer required proof of human love on Valentine’s Day — or any other day. God is our refuge in lonely times, and that’s more than enough proof He loves us.
Lord, thank You for never abandoning me in my lonely times. I confess I have tried too hard to fill up my lonely spaces with relationships or things that can never fill me up. Remind me when I hide away in my safe place with You, I will experience Your perfect peace. Meet me in my loneliness with Your loving presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Psalm 59:17, “O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.” (NLT)
Psalm 142:5, “Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, ‘You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.’” (NLT)
Do you need help to overcome the lies Satan is whispering to you? Grab a copy of Sarah Geringer’s book, Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian Meditation in Focus.
Sarah writes about loneliness, healing and finding peace in God’s Word at sarahgeringer.com.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
Which days cause loneliness to haunt you most? How can you turn to God as your refuge in those lonely times? Share your ideas in our comments section.
© 2020 by Sarah Geringer. All rights reserved.