When You Feel Lonely and Misunderstood
I bent over the kitchen counter and put my wet face into my hands. It was one of those days. A restless night, pregnancy hormones raging, wood stove not cooperating, newly cooked food ruined, back aching, and things falling repetitively. I felt like a fraying cord that finally snapped.
I called my husband and sobbed into the phone. “Everything is going to pieces here, my body is so sore, I’m hungry, and no one understands me!”
“It’s okay, dear,” he insisted. “I do understand—”
“No, you don’t!” I roared. “No one understands all that I’m going through!”
“Okay. I’m sorry, dear. I wish I could make you feel better. Why don’t you take it easy this morning and just relax.”
“Fine.” I hung up the phone and retreated to the couch to mope and sulk.
When we are in the midst of something very personal and specific, we can feel isolated by our pain as we look around and think, “There’s no one who could ever fathom all that I am going through.”
In the midst of your loneliness, I want to offer you the hope God has shown me in first Christ, and also His church.
Only God Understands You Perfectly
As much as we wish someone could come alongside us and say, “I’m in the exact same place as you and I totally understand everything you feel,” we will never find that in another person on earth. God has made us each so unique, with different stories and lens to view them. We each have our own levels of pain and experiences through which we face life. Even if they were going through the same trial as you, they could never get inside your head and understand every single thought perfectly.
But God can.
As Your Creator
God knit you together in your mother’s womb and carefully made each aspect of you.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. ~Psalm 139:13-15
He created your body and soul, mind and emotions. God knows you more thoroughly, more deeply, than any other person can fathom. He knows how your body works better than your doctor, and He knows how your emotions work better than your parents. God knows you perfectly—there’s nothing you could hide from Him or surprise Him with. You are intimately known by God because He is your Creator.
As your Creator, He has also laid out each of your days and knows them well.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:16
Any step you take, any trial you face, any turn you make God already knew it. This struggle you are going through now, that you feel no one can understand, God does because He already planned it. In fact, He orchestrated it for your good (Romans 8:28-30).
As your Creator, God is the best Comforter and Counselor you could ever have in the midst of this trial.
As Your Great High Priest
And God is not only intimately acquainted with us as our Creator, but also through the Second Person of Trinity, Christ, who came to earth and lived as fully man and fully God.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~Hebrews 4:14-16
Jesus understands what it is like to be a human on this earth. He is well aware of what both physical and emotional pain are like as He suffered on the cross for our sins. He knows what it is like to be tempted at your weakest moments. He knows what it is like being alone and abandoned by your friends. He knows what it is like to be in a difficult season you can’t escape, as He prayed in the garden before the crucifixion, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will (Matthew 26:39).
And now, as we pray to Him, we can know that He not only hears our prayers but understands them and shows sympathy. We can confidently come to Him in our weakest moments knowing He doesn’t judge us for struggling, but loves us and knows us well.
Friend, in the midst of your lonely pain, you don’t need someone to understand you perfectly because you already have a perfect God who does. When you feel lonely and misunderstood and isolated by your pain, turn to God and find hope knowing He truly does understand and can provide the best comfort.
The Church: A Means of Grace—Even When They Don’t Understand
That day when it seemed everything was going wrong and no one could possibly understand all the emotions I was feeling, God gave me someone who did.
I was reading through an article a friend of mine had written. As I read, tears formed in my eyes as I saw she did in fact understand what I felt. She described the struggle of my heart precisely.
We are two girls who live in different places, at very different stages of life, and yet God brought us together in a similar experience. We were both suffering and struggling, but in almost opposing ways. Yet we could relate and understand one another.
That’s the beauty of the body of Christ. We can be at different stages of life and suffering in different ways yet be able to bring comfort and encouragement to one another. Though the body is made up of different and unique parts, those parts work together in harmony to the glory of Christ when in submission to Him.
Sometimes we may think that we need someone who is in the same stage and season as us to find help. From there, we often segregate ourselves into groups: the young women, the older women, the moms, the singles, the dating, the engaged, the students, the stay-at-home wives, the working moms, and so on.
But I don’t believe God ever intended the church to segregate itself like this. Rather, we see the opposite:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ~Titus 2:3-5
While there is nothing wrong with seeking friendship from our peers, we should also seek the companionship of women who are not like us, knowing they too can provide wisdom and encouragement, and sometimes understand us better than others.
In this podcast episode from Women’s Hope Project, Rosaria Butterfield gives the illustration of a young teenage girl who has lost her father to a long battle with cancer. Who will she find the most comfort and understanding from—a fellow teenager who has always had a healthy father, or an elderly woman who lost her husband years prior to disease?
So seek out encouragement not just from those who are nearly identical to you, but also those who are different. Perhaps they will be able to give some great encouragement and comfort in the midst of your suffering.
Friend, today in the midst of your lonely suffering, first seek God as your perfectly understanding Counselor, and then seek out others in your church—knowing, that although they may never understand you completely, that’s okay—they can still be a wealth of wisdom and encouragement.
In your difficult season, how can you find comfort in God as the one who knows you best? Who can you turn to in your church for encouragement?