Editor’s note: This My Answer column was completed before Rev. Billy Graham’s recent death.

Dear Dr. Graham:

I’m a very shy person, and I find it hard to be in social gatherings of any kind, including church. Sometimes I feel so lonely that I wonder if life is worth living. I wish God hadn’t made me this way.

— J.S.

Dear J.S.: The most important thing I can tell you is that God loves you and accepts you just as you are. Even if you find it hard to be with other people, you’ll never find it hard to be with God, because He always welcomes you. Jesus’ invitation includes you: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ... for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:28-29).

At the same time, God wants to help you overcome your fears and your loneliness — and He will, as you seek His help. What steps can you take? First, take time to list all the good things God has already given you. In other words, learn to focus not just on the things you wish you had, but on the things God has already given you — and thank Him for them. The Bible says, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Then ask God to help you take one step — just one — that will bring you into contact with others. Perhaps He’ll give you an opportunity to help someone in need — visiting a lonely person in a nursing home, for example, or volunteering in a homeless shelter, or helping in your church’s nursery. All around you are people who are lonely or in need — and you can be their friend.

Above all, turn to Jesus Christ and open your heart and life to Him. He loves you, and with His help you can be an encouragement to others who are shy or lonely.