In Genesis chapter one, the Bible describes the creation of the world. As God paused to contemplate His work at the end of each day, the Bible says, “God saw that it was good…” (Genesis 1:4,10,12,18,21,25). At the end of the creative week, God looked over His entire creation and said, “It was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
Then the Scriptures state that God said that something was not good, “…It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). To correct the problem of “aloneness,” God caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam and from his side, God fashioned a helper for man—woman (Genesis 2:21,22).
God brought Adam and Eve together and God himself pronounced the marital blessing upon the first human couple as He “joined them together.” Twice the Scriptures say that God called Adam and Eve “man and wife” (Genesis 2:24,25). When Jesus was dealing with the issue of marriage and divorce, He referred back to the Genesis account as the ideal standard of marriage (Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:2-12). He did so because a marriage took place between Adam and Eve. God created Eve as a companion for Adam to correct the problem of aloneness.
So God created man and then he created woman and brought them together for the purpose of companionship. There are several times in the Scriptures where God calls the wife of a man his “companion”
Proverbs 2:16,17: “It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her s has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God.”
The word “partner” in verse 17 is the Hebrew word alluwph and could be translated as “companion” or “close friend” and refers to an “intimate relationship with someone.” The prophet Malachi wrote:
Malachi 2:14: “You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.”
The word “partner” in Malachi chapter two is the Hebrew word chaberethand refers to being “associated with” or “united to.” Together these verses define companionship as “a relationship in which there is commitment and intimacy.”
Marriage provides the companionship that we need as human beings. This companionship is built upon a foundation of commitment, trust, intimacy, and fidelity.
Several years ago in the cartoon Peanuts, Linus was afraid to go to the library because it was such a lonely place. Charlie Brown explained to Linus that everyone is lonely in one place or another. Linus then asked Charlie Brown where that lonely place was for him. Charlie pondered the question for a moment and then replied, “The earth.”
Have you ever been surrounded by people, yet felt alone in the crowd? Some of the loneliest people in the world live in cities with populations in the millions. Never have people lived as close together and yet so far apart as they do today. Herbert Prochnow quipped, “A city is a large community where people are lonesome together.”
Several years ago, the Portland Oregonian printed a story about a well-known clinical psychologist who killed himself. In the suicide note the psychologist left his staff, the psychologist said: “Tonight I feel tired, alone, and suddenly very old. The full understanding of these feelings will come only when you, too, are tired, alone, and old.” Here we see a man trained to help others find meaning to life and failed to find meaning in his own and so be took his life. How ironic!
Loneliness is a common theme in our music. From the blues, to country-western, to rock—everyone seems to be lonely:
Paul McCartney wrote, “All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they belong?” (from the song “Eleanor Rigby”)
Elvis Presley sang these words, “Just take a little walk down Lonely Street to Heartbreak Hotel” and asked the question, “Are you lonesome tonight?”
Charles Swindoll saw the following ad in a Kansas newspaper: “I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for five dollars.” Swindoll commented:
Sounds like a hoax, doesn’t it? But the person was serious. Did anybody call? You bet. It wasn’t long before this individual was receiving 10 to 20 calls a day. The pain of loneliness was so sharp that some are willing to try anything for a half hour of companionship.
Loneliness is a problem that is all too real for far too many people.
I. WHAT IS LONELINESS?
Before we define what loneliness is, let us dispel the common misconception that loneliness is the result of isolation or solitude. The Bible tells us that John was away on the island Patmos—but he was not lonely (Revelation 1:9). Jesus often withdrew to desolate places—but He was not lonely (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:35). Paul spent time alone in the Arabian Desert—but he was not lonely (Galatians 1:17). You can be alone and not be lonely and as we have already said, you can be surrounded by literally millions of people and feel like the loneliest person on the planet.
The dictionary defines loneliness as:
- ♦ “Being without company”
- ♦ “Cut off from others: solitary”
- ♦ “Not frequented by human beings: desolate”
- ♦ “Sad from being alone: lonesome”
- ♦ “Producing a feelingof bleakness or desolation”
The Hebrew word yachiydis translated into English as “lonely,” “desolate,” and “solitary.” The basic idea behind the word is “to be forsaken.” This word is closely connected to the concept of “only”—as an “only” child. This refers to something that is “most dear” and to something that “cannot be replaced.” So then to summarize, this Hebrew word refers to a “lonely” or “forsaken” feeling that comes because something that “cannot be replaced ” has been removed from a person’s life.
The Greek word eremos(er·ay·mos) is translated into English as, “lonesome,” “lonely,” “desolate,” “solitary,” or “remote.” When referring to people, the word means: “deserted by others” or “deprived of the aid and protection of others, especially of friends, acquaintances, and kindred.” The word further refers to:
- ♦ “A flock deserted by the shepherd.”
- ♦ “A woman neglected by her husband”(Galatians 4:27)
- ♦ “Jerusalem bereft of Christ’s presence, instruction, and aid”
(Matthew 23:38; Luke 13:35)
Loneliness involves being cut off from others and sadness from being alone that produces a feeling of desolation. Synonyms for loneliness include alone, isolated, cut off, or alienated. One the most common feelings associate with loneliness is emptiness. There’s a sense of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair. Loneliness is unwanted isolation. To be specific, it is emotional isolation.
Sociologist Richard Weiss has divided loneliness into two main categories:
♦ Social loneliness
Social loneliness is temporary and usually results from changing social circumstances such as moving, a death, or a divorce. Our social life takes a hit and we don’t know where we fit in anymore, so we feel lonely. This is normal and to be expected and will pass in time.
♦ Emotional loneliness
Emotional loneliness is the long-term, chronic loneliness that is not situation-based. People that are suffering with emotional loneliness tend to become preoccupied with themselves and their problems. They become rigid in their behavior patterns and act in ways that will keep them lonely. They are increasingly afraid to try something new (i.e. form new friendships). Typically they blame themselves and their personality traits rather than circumstances for their loneliness. They are convinced that there is little or nothing they can do to improve their situation. They believe they have only two choices:
- Resign themselves to isolation and misery and learn how to endure it
- Maintain some measure of hope while waiting until someone rescues them.
Emotional loneliness is an attitude and not a matter of geography.
Loneliness is in the mind and it is in the mind that the healing must take place.
WHAT IS LONELINESS?
- WHO GETS LONELY?
Loneliness is common to all. Thomas Wolfe noted the following: “Don’t think of loneliness as some curious abstraction. Don’t think of loneliness as a raw phenomenon. Loneliness is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.
Writing in the Washington Postmagazine, Jeanne Marie Laskas made this observation, “Maybe the biggest problem with loneliness is that we walk around thinking we’re the only ones suffering from it.” The fact that bars have “happy hours,” there are now “singles” bars, newspapers are filled with “personal ads,” and there are so many websites on the Internet where you can meet people is an indication that there are many lonely people out there.
Studies have been done on loneliness in recent years and have suggested the following facts on loneliness:
- Loneliness is not gender related. Men and women equally experience loneliness. However, men are less likely to admit feelings of loneliness.
• Loneliness is not a singles issue.
Singles, specifically those who are not newly widowed or divorced, are no lonelier than married people.
- Loneliest of all are college students and married people in unhealthy marriages.
- Young people are lonelier than senior adults.
Loneliness is the highest among young adults and adolescents who have left home and moved to a new location without the emotional support of friends and family.
- Among the recently divorced, men report a greater struggle with loneliness than women.
- Loneliness affects extroverts and introverts equally alike.
- Loneliness is no respecter of persons.
It affects the inmate in prison or the man or woman in uniform thousands of miles away from home. Loneliness affects the divorcee that just moved in to an apartment or the one that just buried his or her life’s companion. It impacts the couple whose hearts ache for the child recently taken or the single, career-minded person who prepares a meal for one and goes to bed early, alone.
- Loneliness is no respecter of age.
It strikes the very young whose parents are too busy making a living to give their children the loving attention they need. Loneliness causes teenagers to feel misunderstood and often alienated from their parents and friends. Loneliness is often present in a home between a husband and his wife who have grown apart over the years. Loneliness affects the aged whose active years are now over, whose social relationships have become limited, and who are often placed in a nursing home or move in with one of their children—away from old friends and loved ones.
A recent Gallup poll found that three out of every ten Americans admit to being so lonely that it affects their ability to function normally in their daily lives. One in four feels “extremely lonely” at least one day a month. One in six Americans confesses that they do not have a single friend to talk to about their personal problems. A study by the American Council of Life Insurance reported that the loneliest group in America is college students. Next on the list are divorced people, welfare recipients, single mothers, housewives, and the elderly.
- Money cannot buy love, but it can buy the ability to sustain meaningful relationships via travel, telephone, and the Internet.
Many famous people have admitted that they were lonely:
♦ Elvis Presley
Six weeks before he died, Elvis Presley was asked by a reporter, “Elvis, when you started playing music, you said you want three things in life: You wanted to be rich, you wanted to be famous, and you wanted to be happy. Are you happy, Elvis?” Elvis replied, “No. I am as lonely as hell.”
♦ Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin, lead singer for the rock group Big Brother and the Holding Company, confessed, “After I come off the stage all I ever do is sit around and watch television and I am so lonely…so very lonely.” One of her hit songs was entitled, “All is Loneliness” which was a window into her mind.
♦ H.G. Wells
H.G. Wells, author ofWar of the Worlds, admitted, “I am 65, and I am lonely and never found peace.”
Rich. Famous. But lonely.
We are told that several of the characters in the Bible were lonely:
Elijah thought that he was the only one alive that was living for God:
I Kings 19:10: “He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
While fleeing from King Saul, David experienced loneliness:
Psalm 25:16: “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”
Psalm 142:4: “Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.”
While imprisoned in Rome, Paul felt deserted and lonely:
II Timothy 4:9-16: “Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.”
In an article entitled “Living in Loneliness,” Marie Armenia summarized the life of Jesus:
You may not realize it but Jesus understands what it’s like to be lonely. Although the Bible does not specifically say, “Jesus was lonely,” He was “a man sorrows, well acquainted with grief. Like one from whom men hid their faces. He was despised and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3). He had to deal with people who did not understand Him, did not love Him, did not care about Him, took from Him and never gave. He was misunderstood by His parents and His disciples, and deserted by most of His followers. He made one group of people—the Pharisees—so angry that they plotted to kill Him and succeeded. In his time of greatest need, all his friends deserted him.
If Jesus was lonely, then loneliness cannot be a sin because Jesus never sinned!
The Old Testament predicted that Jesus would be lonely:
Psalm 22:1,2: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.”
Isaiah 53:3: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
The New Testament states that Jesus was rejected, deserted, and lonely:
John 1:11: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
John 16:32: “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone…”
Matthew 26:56: “…Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.”
Matthew 27:46: “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
While hanging on the cross, Jesus was forsaken by his friends and his Father in heaven. He died alone.
If you aren’t lonely right now, there’s a pretty good chance that someone around you is. We all feel lonely from time to time but there are people whose everyday life is consumed with loneliness. It is to these people that this message is directed.
WHO GETS LONELY?
III. WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF LONELINESS?
There are many causes for loneliness. Let me suggest a few to you:
♦ Feelings of rejection
Many people have been rejected, criticized, and laughed at by family members or close friends. Everyone seems to be going out with someone else, except you. When you speak no one seems to listen to what you have to say. You feel ignored. You feel rejected. Because of this, you have some very deep inner-wounds. Mark Twain made this observation, “If a cat sits on a hot stove, he’ll never sit on a hot stove again. As a matter of fact, he’ll never sit on any stove again.” In a similar way, people that have been rejected by others will not risk being hurt again and resign themselves to a lonely existence.
There are people who have very low self-esteem. They do not love or accept themselves so they reason, “How could anyone else love me?” They judge themselves unworthy of having a friend. Instead of building bridges to other people they build walls to close themselves in and separate themselves from being hurt by others. They won’t reach out to others and will not allow others to reach in to them.
♦ Sorrow, tragedy, or loss
When someone experiences the loss of a loved one through death or divorce, especially a spouse, loneliness becomes a very real problem. Most people that experience sorrow, tragedy, or loss want to be left alone. Some think that no one understands what they are going through, so they isolate themselves from people. Although this is a normal reaction, it can be unhealthy if this desire lasts for a prolonged period of time. Isolation contributes to loneliness.
♦ Separation from family or friends
Whenever you are away from your family and friends, there is a natural tendency to be lonely. You can’t wait to get back home to see them again. This cause of loneliness is common to those whose job requires them to travel: salesmen, truck drivers, those serving in the military, those that are patients in the hospital for a prolonged period of time, or those living in nursing homes.
Because our society has become so mobile (20% of American families move every year), it has precipitated an epidemic of loneliness. We leave family and friends behind and move to a new city and because we are so busy, it is difficult to make new friends.
♦ A position of Leadership
Loneliness often comes from bearing heavy responsibility for leadership. When an individual must make decisions that affect the wellbeing of others, the stress often makes them feel completely alone (see Numbers 11:14). We’ve all heard the expression “It’s lonely at the top.” Former President Harry Truman once said, “The president of the United States has the loneliest job in the world.” Of that I have no doubt!
Some of the loneliest people in the world are pastors and missionaries. They have made tremendous sacrifices of their time, health, family, and standard of living and often feel forgotten and under appreciated.
To be perfectly honest, there are some people that are lonely and they only have themselves to blame. It is their own fault that they are lonely. These people push others out of their lives by being:
Some are so wrapped up in themselves that they drive other people away. Dr. Warren H. Jones has discovered that certain behaviors, among people who struggle with loneliness. He calls it the “loneliness prone personality.” He describes this personality as:
These people unwittingly do things that prevent them from feeling close to others. Some don’t know how to listen and they monopolize the conversation. They tend to be more critical of others and themselves, they ask fewer questions, and they often wreck a friendship by saying mean or obnoxious things. Another conversational faux pas of lonely people is that their conversations have a higher incidence of talking about themselves to the exclusion of others.
It has been said that, “There is no life so empty as a self-centered life and there is no life so centered as a self-emptied life.”
Some people are actually unfriendly themselves and at the same time accuse everyone else of being unfriendly. I have seen these people in churches all my adult life. They enter the worship service five minutes after the service has started and they leave when the invitation is given and then say that the church is not friendly.
The writer of the book of Proverbs asserted:
Proverbs 18:24: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…” (KJV).
There is an old country-western song with this line, “The last word in ‘lonesome’ is ‘me.’” Some people are lonely because they are focused solely upon themselves. To have friends—be a friend.
♦ An impersonal society
With every passing year, our society becomes more and more impersonal. Companies have created endless menus on their telephone systems so that it has become very difficult to talk to a real person. We all have been frustrated with the fact that we are simply a number in a computer. Because of the increase in the crime rate, many fear for their own safety. To protect themselves, they have installed burglar alarms, dead bolts, fences, burglar bars, etc. In reality, this has further isolated people from one another and is another cause of loneliness. Dr. Paul Tournier made this observation, “Loneliness is the most devastating malady of this age.” One of the reoccurring thoughts about heaven is that Jesus gives us a name and not a number! (John 10:3,14,27; Revelation 2:17; 3:5,12; 14:1; 22:4)
Obviously sin is the realcause of loneliness. If Adam and Eve had never sinned, mankind would have had perfect fellowship with God, perfect communion with his fellow man, and death would never have entered the human existence. Sin always separates and always brings death to personal relationships. We need to make three points concerning loneliness and sin:
- For the person that does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, they feel lonely and isolated from God because they are.
- For the person that does have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if there is unconfessed sin in his or her life he or she will also feel lonely and isolated from God. It has been said, “When you live like a lost man, you will feel like a lost man.”
- Loneliness is not always the result of something that you did or that someone else did. It comes because you are a human being and each and every one of us is lonely at times.
These are just some of the causes of loneliness. WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF LONELINESS?
- THE ANSWER TO THE PROBLEM OF LONELINESS
There are two general ways to deal with the problem of loneliness:
♦ Unhealthy ways to deal with loneliness
There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with problem of loneliness. Let’s notice first of all, some unhealthy ways that people deal with loneliness:
Some people deny that they are lonely. Denial never solved a single problem.
Some keep themselves so busy that they have no time to be alone with themselves. This does not solve the problem of loneliness but just keeps pushing it down. One day it will rise up and overwhelm you.
- Substance abuse
Some try to medicate their loneliness with drugs or alcohol. This is a short-term solution that causes long-term problems.
Some people overeat because they are lonely.
- Finding “somebody else”
Some people believe that the solution to their loneliness is finding “somebody else.” If we can just get “somebody else” into our lives, then we won’t be lonely any longer and we will be happy. The truth is that no one else can make you happy. Only you can make you happy. Other people cannot cure your loneliness either. Only you can cure your loneliness.
I assure you that finding “somebody else” is not the solution to loneliness. I have often told people that there is one thing worse than being lonely—being married to the wrong person! The divorce statistics indicate that just because you have a mate does not mean that you have a lifelong companion. Romantic love is ineffective in healing loneliness because it focuses on the self.
Some people attach themselves to others, and in the process the other person feels smothered which drives him or her away. In their book Why Be Lonely, psychiatrists Les Carter, Paul D. Meier, and Frank B. Minirth made this observation:
“People who have constant bouts with loneliness often fall into the overly dependent style of life…an overly dependent person…becomes excessively distraught if he is rejected by someone. He clings to people, sucking up all their emotional energy… [these lonely people get to the point where they] expect others to fulfill their needs for them. Then they begin to make demands of those on whom they depend. Naturally, this causes others to retreat from them, keeping at a distance. The dependent person finds himself back at square one, and usually continues the cycle endlessly.”
Lonely people tend to cling to others to feel less lonely. As a result, they push other people away.
- Professional counseling
Some deal with their loneliness by seeing a professional counselor. Psychiatrists say that 80% of their patients come because of loneliness. Going to a psychiatrist may be helpful but if they are not Christians they will be limited in what they can do because loneliness at its core is a spiritual problem.
People that commit suicide think that no one cares about them and no one understands them. These are the characteristics of loneliness. It is interesting to note that 50% of people who have had a heart attack confess that they were feeling depressed and lonely when they had their heart attack.
♦ Healthy ways to deal with loneliness
I would like to share several healthy and practical steps to overcome loneliness:
- Admit that you are lonely
Only when we are honest with ourselves and face the problem, can we defeat it.
- Discern if sin is the cause of your loneliness
If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you need to repent of your sins and invite Jesus Christ to come in to your life as Savior and Lord. If you do have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and there is unconfessed sin in your life, you need to confess that sin and received God’s cleansing. Sin is the primary reason for loneliness. It separates us from our loved ones and from God. Sin causes guilty feelings that alienate us from society. Sin must be dealt with or loneliness will be a continual problem.
- Turn to Jesus Christ
When something that we own is broken, we consult the original manufacturer. For human beings the manufacturer is God. I believe that Jesus Christ is the fundamental answer to every one of man’s problems, including loneliness. The Scriptures clearly teach that God is a friend to the lonely. Solomon stated:
Proverbs 18:24: “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Jesus is our greatest friend! One that is more faithful than any family member.
Psalm 27:10: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.”
David observed that sometimes the most important people in our lives will forsake us. When they step out, Jesus steps in. David knew that God was always with him:
Psalm 139:7-10: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
Jesus himself promised His abiding presence:
Matthew 28:20: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us of God’s promise to be faithful to us:
Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’”(See also Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5.9; Isaiah 41:10; 43:2; Jeremiah 1:8.)
Paul assured the saints in Rome that a believer could never be separated from the Lord: Romans 8:38,39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We need to realize what the Bible says about Jesus’ relationship with believers. Consider the following:
- Jesus said that we are his friends (John 15:9,11-15)
- Jesus said that he loves us (John 3:16; 15:9; I John 4:9,10)
- Jesus said that he knows our names (John 10:3,14,27)
- Jesus said that he knows how many hairs are on our heads (Matthew 10:30)
- Jesus is praying for us (John 17:9; Hebrews 4:15,16)
- Jesus wants us to be with him in heaven (John 14:1-3; 17:24)
- Jesus said that God the Father loves us as much as he loves his own Son (John 17:23)
Remember that you may be lonely but you are never alone! Jesus himself said:
John 16:32: “…You [the disciples] will leave me [Jesus] all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”
As the Father was with Jesus, so Jesus will be with us! (John 10:27-30) It has been said: “It is not until Jesus is all you have that you know He is all you need.”
- Readjust your rearview mirror
Lonely people have a natural tendency to retreat to the past. They try to recapture the feelings of happier times with people that are no longer a part of their lives. You can reminisce about the past but you can never recapture it. You cannot drive through life looking in you review mirror without crashing. God said: Isaiah 43:18,19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
- Develop a daily quiet time with the Lord
The writer of the book of Hebrews admonishes us to take our problems to the Lord in prayer:
Hebrew 4:16: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
We need to confess to God that we are lonely ask Him to fill that void with Himself!
♦ Spend time in the word of God
I read this week that 93% of lonely and depressed Christians admit spending less than one hour per reading or studying the Bible. The word of God cleanses our minds and reminds us of the promises of God. We also see how faithful God has been to His people in the past, which assures us of His faithfulness to us today.
Isaiah wrote these words:
Isaiah 50:4: “The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary…”
Isaiah was not speaking of himself in this verse. This verse is speaking of Jesus. God the Father taught Jesus His Son the word of God every morning during His earthly ministry. Why? Because, in the words of Isaiah, the word of God will “sustain the weary.”
- Keep our eyes on God, His promises, and His faithfulness
When we are lonely, we donot have our eyes on God. Instead we are focusing on ourselves, circumstances, or other people. We can allow our problems to come between us and God or we can allow God to come between our problems and us. It’s your choice. When David was lonely and discouraged, he refocused his eyes on God:
Psalm 42:5: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you…” (see also Psalm 42:11).
- Develop friendships
Someone said that a friend is, “Someone who steps in when the whole world steps out.” A friend is someone who is there for you when you need them. Acquaintances will step out on you in the tough times of life but a friend will step in at those times. Solomon said that a good friend can lift you up when you fall:
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves…”
Remember, even the Lone Ranger wasn’t alone. He had a faithful companion named Tonto!
- Learn to be content
Paul confessed to the saints at Philippi:
Philippians 4:11: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
A lack of contentment and loneliness are inseparably linked. Learning to be content will go a long way in solving the problem of loneliness.
- Invest your life in serving others
Lonely people are consumed with thoughts about themselves. One of the ways to overcome loneliness is to turn your thoughts outward—on someone else other than yourself. Getting involved in the lives of others can:
- ♣ Get your mind off your loneliness.
- ♣ Allow you to make new friends.
- ♣ Make you feel good about yourself.
- ♣ Overcome the feelings that no one needs you or that someone else has replaced you.
The cure for loneliness is the kind of love that is radically committed to other people. The Greek word for this kind of love is agape(ag·ah·pay—Strong’s #28). It refers to a mental decision to love other people and expect nothing in return from them. This kind of love does not ask, “What’s in it for me?” It asks, “What can I do for others?”
The Bible teaches that we reap what we sow:
Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
If you sow love, companionship, friendship, etc.—you will reap love, companionship, friendship, etc.
The Bible further teaches that in order to receive, we must give:
Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
If you need love—give love. If you need companionship—be a companion. If you need a friend—be a friend. What you give is what you will get.
- Share the burdens of life with other people
A Chicago woman died when she jumped off a fourteen-story apartment building. In the suicide note that she left, she explained that she killed herself because she was lonely. A reporter interviewed the woman’s neighbor, who said, “I wish I’d known she was lonesome. I’m lonesome myself.” Here were two lonely people living next door to each other and yet never bothered to get to know each other.
Paul advised the Galatian believers to share their burdens with each other: Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
We all need Jesus with “flesh on!” We need someone that can give us good spiritual advice, encourage us, give us biblical instruction, and pray with us. A burden shared is a burden halved!
In summary, the cure for loneliness is a journey that begins as we change the way we think about:
- The Lord
- The Lord’s faithfulness to us
Author Jeff Swart