I know that as a prisoner, separated from the world I once knew, it’s easy to fall into feelings of loneliness. I can be surrounded by hundreds of people all day long, even interact with many of them, but still feel alone. Have you ever felt that way?

So how can we change or deal with these feelings? I believe the best way to approach this subject is to start with looking at what will not help. Once we understand that, it’s easier to see what will help.

Often when we’re lonely, we turn to activities and relationships to fill the void. Those things may temporarily alleviate loneliness, but when we use them to combat a greater problem, it’s like putting a Band-Aid on a deep wound. It might cover the wound, but it won’t help it heal. Lonely feelings are spiritual and are deeply rooted.

Loneliness is like a rubber band. You can stretch one, but as soon as you let it go, it snaps right back to what it was originally. Likewise, we can fill our lives with busyness and superficial relationships and find some temporary relief, but once we stop being busy or that relationship no longer exists, we snap right back to those feelings.

Loneliness will never be solved with substitution; we must address the emptiness.

Simply said, nothing on earth—not money, sex, drugs, careers, athletics, people, or anything else—can give you peace and fill the void in you that leads to loneliness.

The world says humanistic psychology or therapy will do it, but it won’t. Someone once said, “There’s a hole in our soul so big that only God can fill it.” Only God can cure our feelings of loneliness, and when He does, we realize that we were never alone.

So how do we overcome our loneliness through God? We draw near to Him. When we do, He draws near to us (James 4:8). We start believing what He says in His Word, that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). That means, wherever we are, He is!

If Jesus loved us enough to leave the glory and splendor of heaven to come to earth to die in our place, isn’t that proof of how far He is willing to go in His love for us? Proverbs 18:24 NIV says, “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” and that friend is Jesus.

Whether you are in an actual prison or a virtual one brought about through feelings of loneliness and depression, let the “God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope” (Romans 15:13 NIV). If there’s one thing I’ve learned along this journey of many years in prison, it’s that we are never alone; Jesus longs to comfort and strengthen us.

Draw close to Him today through prayer—through simple conversation with the God who loves you. Let Him fill that void as He draws you close to Himself. There is no loneliness in His presence. †