Wednesday, May 23, 2018

How do I know I’m doing God’s will?

Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash
It’s a question every ardent follower of Jesus must surely ask, and therefore it’s a question worth exploring. Just what kinds of situations are indicators that we’re doing God’s will?
I’d venture some of the following:
When we’re finding it an uphill struggle to love people, yet we’re persisting, we’re doing God’s will. When forgiveness is near-on impossible, but we keep repenting before the Lord, we’re doing God’s will. When we’re slandered, yet don’t give in to slandering back, even in our heart, we’re doing God’s will.
When we’re finding it difficult to rationalise the kinds of sacrifices we’re needing to make, yet we continue to sacrifice faithfully, we’re in the lap of God’s will. As we recognise that the best sacrifices are those that actually cost us, our sacrifice must be closest to pleasing God.
When we’re grappling with the folly in people’s decisions, yet we overcome impatience with a reminder of God’s grace toward us, we’re operating in the motivation of doing God’s will. As we’re quickly reminded of our own slow progress, and as we thank God for such a reminder, we’re doing God’s will.
When we’re working hard yet are often tempted to feel that we’re wasting our time we’re doing God’s will. Yes, as we throw ourselves into a work that has little immediate reward, the littler the better, faithfully doing it without resenting it, we’re doing God’s will. Perhaps we can take Jesus at His word (Matthew 6:4).
When things are easy for us, and blessings seem to be pouring in, and we take the opportunity to be positively grateful, we’re doing God’s will. But not just that; when we take the opportunity to see those at the opposite end of the blessedness spectrum — those who feel cursed — and yet have empathy, which is the heart to stand in their gap, we’re doing God’s will.
When we sin yet bring ourselves to immediate account by the repentance of apology, having been prompted by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we’re doing God’s will. Blessed are we all the more to be so self-aware as to be doing this daily and more often.
When we’re tempted by a thing to conceal or withhold a truth, yet we ensure the truth can roam free, no matter the cost, we’re doing God’s will. As we venture through life this is the key test we face every day. And given the opportunity to manipulate and coerce, that we don’t!
When we’re given the position of power, yet diffuse that power in the discharge of our function, yet take hold of the seriousness of responsibility of the role, we’re doing God’s will. As we deal with others, being patently aware of the temptation to abuse power, yet we give the other power, we use that power to enable and empower others.
When we’re emasculated in grief, powerless over the forces that overwhelm our feelings, yet keep, in our stronger moments, searching out the heart of God in the matter, we’re doing God’s will. It’s just so important to know when it honours God to rest and not berate ourselves, just as it pleases God to walk ahead at the surest sign of ease.
When we take regular moral inventory, yet aren’t sacked by the weight of our wrongdoing, and are able to look up and thank God for His mercy and grace, we’re doing God’s will.
When we don’t know what to do, yet we resist forging ahead anyway, and take the time to seek wise counsel, we’re doing God’s will.
When we see someone hungry or thirsty or tired or lonely, and we give them what they need, without condition, we can be sure we’re doing God’s will.
When we’re tempted into favouring one kind of doctrine over another, yet we see how incompletely we actually see (1 Corinthians 13:12), and still don’t judge others for falling into error, we’re doing God’s will. None of us can be assured of not falling into heresy at one time or other, yet we’re so quick to judge. The paradox of that, of course, is Pharisaism.
When we’re shamed by our sin, and we fall into the quickest judgment of character by onlookers and are condemned out of hand, yet we look high to God, and see our sin is covered by the blood of the Lamb, and are convicted to live fervently for Jesus from now on, we’re doing God’s will.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Men, speak up and feel better

Photo by Max Sandelin on Unsplash


I was at a family get together of a close friend some time ago that featured a conversation that left several of us uncomfortable for what was said by one of their number. There was nothing aggressive said, nobody was attacked, other than one family member in question. Their attitude to their own life left us with nothing to say. They were vocal, and it was clear we were all stumped.
They simply said it was none of anyone else’s business
how long they lived and how they died.
Their immediate family was present. They heard it said. In their demeanour, they accepted that they couldn’t change the attitude presented. I’m not sure what each individual thought, but I was thinking, ‘Don’t these people mean enough to you for you to not harm yourself?’ Even if I’d vocalised it I doubt it would have made any impact. And how can you say something like that without saying, ‘You’re selfish!’ So desperately sad!
We’ve all faced such moments, lost for any hope within us to share, and certainly as a counsellor I’ve had more than my share. But I left that occasion feeling surely there was something more I could have said or done.
Many men seem to be resistant to talking through their problems. Perhaps most. And certainly, those who might venture into self-harm, and euthanasia — if it is legalised — are disproportionately featured.
In some men there is an impenetrable veneer where a fraction of an inch below their exterior lurks dangerous thoughts that coalesce with a stubborn and perhaps fearful heart. No matter how much we say, ‘Are you okay?’ there is an iron curtain raised — ‘Yep, I’m fine… I’ll let you know if I’m not…’
It’s particularly disturbing when we know
there are issues but the man there before us
fears feeling weak. All men can relate.
Many men fear feeling weak.
Ironically, it’s when we’re honest about feeling weak
that we begin to feel stronger.
He might be saying to himself, ‘I feel like a sissy,’ or he is probably patently aware that he’s hardly ever (if ever) had the kind of conversation that involves vulnerability. He’s probably had more conversations of the nature of, ‘harden up’ or ‘Here, have a cup of concrete with your whining.’ None of that is ever helpful, even if it does pretend to be funny (which it is not!). Perhaps he’s thinking it’s not bad enough yet. The problem with that is how bad does it need to get? When it’s too late? Maybe he feels he has to be the strength of the family.
But… we are all frailer than any of us realise.
Anyone who has fallen into serious depression knows this. Many people who have never had mental health issues simply have no idea, even if they have witnessed a family member inconsolably lost in fragmented identity. It is incredibly stark, the difference between the mentally ill person and the family member trying to help. One is frustrated by an incapacity to help themselves or receive help, the other is frustrated by an incapacity to help their loved one when they would give anything if they just knew what.
What can we do? Well, we can raise awareness and be part of ‘being the change’ we seek to see in our world. We can be social media warriors and share posts like this one, and anything that connects men not talking with trusted others when they could and should. We can begin praying for the men we know, especially brothers, sons, fathers, uncles, cousins and friends. You know, the funny thing about prayer is the more we pray the more God works in our subconscious mind to generate creative ideas for action. Pray and we become activated advocates.
For those who are tempted into self-harm, the lives of all they love depends on them. Act on the temptation and soon multiple lives plummet into an abyss of grief that has no return to what was.
Yet there are many who cannot and will not help themselves.
It doesn’t mean we ought to accept defeat. Care comes in many forms.
But we also have to accept we’re doing and have done our best.
We need to start the process of education earlier in boy’s and girl’s lives. Young lives need to be exposed to vagaries of the mind and be taught that these whims of self-destruction can germinate in any of us anytime, but also be taught the essentials beyond such wisdom, like mental self-awareness and the power of safe identity.
If men, or women for that matter, will only speak up, they will feel better. Even if mental health does not markedly improve, there is a companionship on offer to those who will open up and remain open.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A naked pastor’s honest truth

Photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash

I’ve had people say to me that they appreciate my vulnerability and that is nice. Some people think it’s too much, even a sign of insecurity in me. That’s fine too. But the honest truth is I’m nowhere near vulnerable enough yet. I’m nowhere near comfortable calling my sin for what it is. And, amazingly, due to God’s astonishing favour, that’s mine undeserved, that’s okay too!
God is calling us to be self-aware and courageous enough to know who we are from what we think, say and do.
This is not about identity in Christ,
even though we may identify as His.
***
This is about knowing and accepting
my identity as a sinner,
before God and all His creation.
***
This is about dying to self,
tearing the veil of secrecy down the middle,
leaving shames exposed,
so that the Lord might work.
Here below, in the tradition of Step 4 of AA’s Twelve Step Program, is a healthy look at the sin I can disclose about me:
I sometimes feel I don’t get enough and want more attention. I hate being misunderstood. I loathe being disrespected. I’m prone to feeling insecure. I’m quietly critical of others at times. I only sometimes enjoy imagining others thinking they’re ‘one up’ on me. I abhor the misuse of power so much that I can attempt to overpower people through advocacy, in turn disrespecting boundaries. Occasionally, based in pride, I overvalue and overestimate my abilities. Sometimes I wonder why God chooses to use others more powerfully than He presently uses me. Many times over the years I’ve prayed like the psalmist (Ps. 13), ‘How long, O Lord, will you hide your face from me?’ I have the propensity to completely negate how God is already using me powerfully in His Kingdom, not being grateful for what He’s given me. I often fall into the trap of wanting to do things for God rather than be with God. I’m a different person at home as I am out in public, and some people I know may think more highly of me than is true. I have the capacity to talk harshly to my loved ones. I’m not as good as some think I am, but at times I’m also haunted by how bad some others may think I am. There is a litany of sin within me. I prioritise comfort, privilege and pleasure. I often procrastinate when it would be wiser to do what God has called me to do. I worry too much about the state of my body, but do not do enough to maintain my body. I’m often tempted to get out of doing what I discern to be God’s will. Though I believe I’m regenerate of spiritual nature, there seems so much of the unregenerate nature still within me. I have a covetous way about me that I cannot seem to escape from. Time is often a god to me; an idol that controls too much of my life. I realise that I’m sometimes manipulative in my listening as I’m often formulating responses in my mind before I’ve truly understood what the other person is saying. Sometimes I linger on inappropriate things and rationalise them as ‘not being too bad’, the sorts of things ‘many people do’. I often feel I have much more head knowledge about God than a fire for God shut up in my bones.
With such a cacophony of sin you could be mistaken to think I were not Christian. Certainly, I’m comfortable that God has already transformed me so very much over the years.
Do I publish this with any sense of safety? No, it’s a risk. Do I feel vulnerable? Yes, now I do. It’s a different and deeper kind of vulnerability.
But these are the kinds of truths that will be known about me when I meet God in heaven. It does me no good to pretend I can keep them to myself. I must look within, get beyond the shame, and allow God to sanctify me afresh, knowing I enjoy His full acceptance.
Lord, help me not pretend I have this life all together.
Help me not propagate that kind of self-deceit.
Help me to be honest and stay honest.
Help me lead out of humility.
Help me see you!
AMEN
Part of me imagines that there are leaders and followers of Christ who are ready to reject me and my ministry because I declare how specifically rotten of heart and mind I am. I do fear that — another sin. But I give it to God! Whatever. So be it. I just want to be better.
I do hope you’re comfortable with my public confessions. I hope they help you in your frail humanness.
I hope you can also identify some of your own sins within the descriptions of mine. We are not that much different. We all need God.
I hope as you read this list, that some of your sin would come into view, but that you wouldn’t feel judged by it, but empowered to turn, again and again, with momentary passion, to the Lord.

To admit our sin and feel convicted of heart and to draw near to God is a desire that meets with God’s will.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

When a Grief journey has only just begun

Photo by Nicholas Bui on Unsplash

As I perused my 2005 journal for something unrelated, I was drawn to the following entry from August 24:
The process of grieving has just begun
and I will anticipate its steps now.
I had an anger event yesterday.
You know, with all I have (the girls)
I still wish I wasn’t living my life right now.
I feel like a fool… let me say it again, I feel like a fool.
I read those words and I sense just how sad they are. My three daughters were the only reason I didn’t make an attempt on my life nearly two years earlier, when another season of the profoundest grief had begun. I found at the time, and even now, the senselessness and confusion of having three precious daughters and yet their presence didn’t seem enough. How on earth could that be? Who and what would I have been without them? (Of course, my daughters were enough, yet this loss was about something I didn’t have and couldn’t have at this time.) But, that is grief — a normal response to an insurmountable loss — and grief understandably involves much irrationality as we wrestle through a quagmire of confusion, guilt and fear on our way back to some sense of mental, emotional and spiritual normality.
There is an insurmountable and most daunting nature about beginning grief. And it is worse when we’ve delayed the process years only to recognise we haven’t made any progress because significantly important details weren’t catered for. We can indeed feel very foolish to have wasted those days or years!
We’ve all heard that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but the pain of grief marks such a commencement as defeat before we’ve even started. Everything is just so overwhelming, and there are levels of being overwhelmed which compound the enormity of the long road before us. And the most overwhelming thing is the present tsunami of wanting this reality to be over, now. It’s such a common thing to awaken having slept and lament the return of consciousness. The lived reality is just too hard.
Yet, still, we must start. We must turn away from the past in such a way as to acknowledge it as the launching pad for the travailing present and the anticipated future. We must believe for a future that is bridled in hope. We must begin the honest journey of suffering our feelings and all the maladaptive responses we’ll experience. We must know how messy it will feel and how ugly we will feel.
And we must have the wisdom to live life one day at a time, and know that this too shall pass.
Finally, we must gather a cavalry of support, an assemblage of guidance, a cohort of travelling companions who will help us hold on all the way through such a bucking ride.
There is one good thing about the commencement of a journey in grief. We placed the stake in the ground. Like the times in my life when I’ve wondered what was wrong and why I was in the doldrums; what a relief it was to say, ‘I have depression!’ because it meant I was starting a journey in climbing out of it.
At the beginning,
finally we have sight for the journey,
and where there is a beginning,
we believe for an ending.
When you feel as though you’re at your rock bottom worst, there is a realisation that grief is just starting. First time around it feels like a hole we cannot climb out of. But God has given it to us so we can learn, as others have, just how to do it, through the slow yet certain passage of time.
Starting the grief journey is a crucial means to an inevitable end — we do arrive, healed more then, than when we started.
I’ll never forget times I routinely awoke and immediately resented being conscious. Knowing there are people facing the same reality compels me to pray and reach out.
Share with those who care. Care so others will share.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Personal encounters in the Presence of God

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

What makes faith real? Many things. Not least, actual encounters with the risen Christ. These below are a sample of the personal encounters I’ve had in the experienced Presence of God.
I don’t state them here for any kudos or to boast, merely to record what my mind knows for posterity.
Allow me to categorise them for structure-sake into the following sub-headings:
God’s Audible Voice
I’ve heard the audible voice of God more than once, but it’s the one time I’ve recorded it that lives in my memory. I say I recorded it, and I did. I played it back many times and played it to others too. But I have since misplaced the tape, and I think that’s good. I would prefer not to think that I captured God’s voice, but the sound I recorded was a supernatural voice of rebuke that aligned with the holy and wholly good character of God. During this season of my life, I’d taken to recording prayers and Scripture for playing back the following day as I worked. One night I prayed with vengeful abandon, a real prayer of imprecation not unlike some of the Psalms. It wasn’t until the next day, as I played it back, that I heard a loud ‘Uhmmm!’ in a dimension of sound that was unmistakably not from this world. Having discerned it, I immediately played it back. I’ll never forget where I was! On the second playing, I was immediately caught up in fear of God before His Presence. I heard His voice. I heard His rebuke. I felt chastised and in no mood to argue. It was a pivotal moment, for I could not continue thinking and speaking a particularly sinful way. The Spirit of God had wrested my attention. I was not to pray this kind of detestable prayer again.
The Face of God
Have I ever seen the face of Jesus? Yes and no. Like the voice of God, which is commonly inaudible, we hear from God in ways that are not audible words. But I saw in my mind a facial gesture in Jesus. It was a bemused look, again of rebuke. But as is of God at all times, this rebuke was revelatory and life-giving. Jesus was saying to me by his facial expression, ‘I went to cross to save you, and you continue to experience guilt and shame?!’ It was like, ‘Come on, no more of this!’
God’s Tap and Pat
This is a more routine way of experiencing God’s Presence through a prayer God prays to us. Recently I got His tap on the shoulder through what I said, having not delivered what He wanted me to say. Just as recently I got His pat on the back for hearing His simple advice and by preaching it simply. Both words of correction and commendation were received for the same sermon.
More on this kind of experiencing this Presence of God is in this article.
In the Arms of God
I have more than once experienced a Psalm 6:6 Presence of God, where a sodden pillow and saturated sheets exemplified the barrenness of my soul. Such a moment in time, with nothing left in me to struggle against God, just weak as I’d ever been, and possibly not able to be weaker, I experienced the palpable Presence of God in being abandoned by life. That dark night God met me, not by making my circumstances better, not by an instantaneous peace that I was praying for, and not even by hearing my prayers at all — which He certainly did — but by reminding me of His pity that was for me, and by allowing me to be so angry of soul as to give up trying. Even when I was against myself, God was for me, and even though I felt abandoned, I knew never more that the Lord would never abandon me. The time to be in God’s Presence, held in His arms, is when we feel life is utterly futile.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Unforgettable grief on a forgettable day

Photo by Claudia on Unsplash

Such an expression of grief that came from nowhere; one moment all the ladies were raving about how blessed the church was with so many pregnancies, the next all the attention was on my wife.
And all she said was, ‘I’m avoiding those women, must be about 20 of them, simply because it’s too much when we’re trying and getting nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for them, but [tears beginning to well up in her eyes, a quiver arriving on her voice] the pain of seeing them have babies is too much for me.’
It was a moment in a church small group meeting where the mood changed. Joy shifted to sadness as compassion arrived to meet my wife where she was. There were no clich├ęs, there was nobody fobbing her off, and nobody tried to offer a solution… just a moment’s silence, as if all the women there knew exactly how my wife felt. It was a very sweet moment, even if it took a mighty amount of courage for my introverted wife to pipe up.
It was a risk of transformational guts that shook the meeting to a deeper, better, more truth-filled place.
Mother’s Day that year was tough. It was horrible. We couldn’t get away from all the joy of the event at church, but at least the church offered a remembrance for those who struggle on Mother’s Day.
It hasn’t been the only tough Mother’s Day. Truth be told, probably more than half of our Mother’s Days together have been tough.
It’s because such a day is somehow supposed to be so perfect, and it never is.
It’s because the day is resplendent with reminders of the various kinds of loss we’ve been exposed to.
It’s because we know of so many within our reach of ministry who lament and cannot connect with this supposed sacred of maternal days.
Anyone reading this will quickly identify in themselves or in someone close to them the slivering shards of pain that quicken an unforgettable grief to the heart on an entirely forgettable day.
Mother’s Day is unfortunately one of those days. It draws what pain might be there to the surface. Such days, therefore, are ideal opportunities to connect with people in their brokenness; particularly, in this case, women in many life circumstances, and men as well.
But will we go there with them? Will we look deeper than the apparent joy? Will we invite and welcome through the door of our heart a vitalising authenticity?
Of course, there are many retail winners on days many deem as forgettable. Sure, it’s good for the economy. And my mother always did say that Mother’s Day should be every day of the year, not just the second Sunday in May. Our mothers deserve more honour than being heralded as saints one day per year.
But it is to the women who bear an unforgettable grief on a forgettable day that this piece is written. Those who wish to be mothers who can’t. Those who live in the middle ground of a hope yet to be realised. Those who lost babies, or sons or daughters far too early; a grief never forgotten. Those who have lost their mothers; the living connection to the person who sheltered their vulnerable self through the formative years and who connects them to their matchless humanity. Those, too, whose mothers let them down and never met them when they needed them most. Those who cannot be physically close to their mothers or their sons or daughters.
I am constantly inspired by the strength that I see in my wife to step forward, particularly in those many seasons of life where grief was stark. The same goes for many other women I’ve taken note of who have attempted to do the same thing.
To each person stung by an inescapable reality, my prayer is you’ll be met by the God of your own creation.
***
Want More? Here is a Mother’s Day Prayer.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The key to being an encourager

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

In commending a friend about their ability to encourage, their capacity for encouragement, they explained with profound simplicity the wherewithal:
‘I’m learning to speak promptly when God leads
and not just think good things about people.’
— Katherine Huxley
See the profundity in this statement?
Immediately I sensed that this is the key to being an encourager. Yes, it requires the abiding heart. Yes, it requires the ability to discern the opportunity of knowing when something noteworthy has been done by someone — ‘when God leads’. But how often do we see something good done, with a good heart that sees good done, and not pipe up? Of course, then there’s the delivery too — to deliver an encouragement that will hit the target with the kind and gentle power of love.
There’s a spirit of boldness, or of giving, in every encouragement delivered. This is speaking promptly, without delay, which is the sense of faith to execute what the heart sees. To just do it. This is a trust in our ability to say a thing for love’s sake, even if occasionally it will come out wrong, which is doubly powerful when we chase the error up and amend it in flow.
To speak promptly is to see and then to love in the immediacy of the moment. This is a good training tool for any disciple of Christ — especially if one is keen to grow in the practice of gratitude — for what else is gratitude than the speaking of good things for love?
Learning to speak promptly when God leads and not just thinking good things about people is a commitment to love, for thinking good things about people is admirable and desirable, but it’s also insufficient if we wish to make a difference as difference-makers in our world.
Certainly, thinking good things about people is incredibly wise on the journey of life.
The capacity and resolve to act promptly on the Lord’s leading is the key to giving loving encouragement.

There’s hardly a more loving thing to do than to encourage someone. An act of random kindness, a smile, a kind word, the uttering of something virtuous for a virtue seen in another, thankfulness for another’s gift. All these and more are the practice of holiness.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

When talk is done only action is left

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash


We went to marriage counselling about two dozen times over three years, and some sessions were extended. We talked so much. We listened so much. We wrestled long and hard with many issues.
But it wasn’t until we stopped and began to actually implement what we’d talked about and had been taught that we began to make progress. In our fourth year! And I’m sure that was the advice of our wise and trusted counsellor:
Go and do what can only be done.
Stop talking about it.
Stop being hearers and now go and be a doer.
None of us likes to hear those words, for they challenge our integrity and they convict us around hypocrisy.
Sometimes it takes a while to get to that place of, ‘Yes, I’ve heard this before… too many times!’
I don’t think we liked leaving those rooms thinking that we were on our own. But she was right. Our counsellor had done all she could do. We knew what we needed to do. We just needed to do it.
Much of what ails us in life is the knowledge that we ought to do something which we never quite have the will of commitment to do.
Finally, when we knew we were on our own, that there was nobody else to turn to, that we had done all the work of identification and assessment and rectification, we had to own what we could only do on our own.
When talk is done, and we know it’s done by the way we repeat ourselves, there is only action left. And oh, what a day it is! It’s momentous and tough and uncomfortable, and liberating and empowering and habit-breaking.
We honour those who invest in our lives most when we ignore what they say least. Those who sow their wisdom into our lives deserve a return on their investment.
It doesn’t matter what we say if we don’t do what we agree together is good and right and appropriate action. Especially as it pertains to others, like within marriage.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

What socialites don’t get about loneliness

Photo by Louis Blythe on Unsplash


At present, given my life is full of people and love, I’m possibly the worst person to write this, but it wasn’t always like this in my life.
There was a time when God drove me long into a grief so lonely I despaired even of the times I had people all around me, for they would so quickly leave my side, and there I was again, by myself, with nothing. It lasted for days enough to fill months for close to a year. But that year grew into three! And even when I was surrounded by people, even loved ones, there was often an isolated ache in my farthest soul — an unfathomable lonesomeness. Here is what I learned.
Having tried everything, all efforts failing,
I became resolved to one thing:
I couldn’t change it.
There is something most of us don’t get about loneliness unless we’ve been there for an extended season. That thing is the powerlessness of it; the unchangeability of it.
Loneliness has been described as every kind of pain all at once.
The socialite doesn’t typically look deeper than their own blessed circumstance; sorting loneliness is about calling someone over, getting into the car, or buying tickets to an event. It’s a problem to be solved. The only things absent from such a life are disempowerment and grief. It’s not their fault, and it’s not ours when life is going swimmingly.
The thing about loneliness we all must recognise
is that it’s never a choice.
It’s not like a lonely person chooses to be this way. The relational logistics of their lives have made it that way, whether by loss or lack of opportunity or by desertion or other sets of circumstances beyond their control, like the structure of their family.
Loneliness is a condition of life beyond the control of the lonely person.
The first thing a person in loneliness would do if they could change one thing is they’d wave a magic wand over their loneliness and banish it. They would give everything else that they had and convert it to love and intimacy and connection.
A major challenge of loneliness is it’s
a condition of life that cannot be readily changed.
If our lives are filled to the brim, even to the point of exhaustion, with love and intimacy and connection it’s very hard to connect with the lack of love and intimacy people experience in their loneliness.
In loneliness, there’s the absence of the right person or people to care sufficiently for us and that’s a scary prospect.
Loneliness is the constancy of fear of realised abandonment.
The hope of the person in their loneliness is the Saviour who is met through an encounter with the risen Jesus, His Presence with them, and ultimately His Presence through others, for loneliness requires practical, bodily, physical solutions.
Hopefully fellow believers’ have the desire not to leave anyone on their own in loneliness.
Socialites have a ministry of getting to know lonely people and finding ways of drawing them out in ways that work for them.

But let’s not misunderstand the point of this article: Loneliness is not a choice to be snapped out of.