So often we hear about the problems of the world, and in Part 1 I said the greatest problem is loneliness. Did you know that one of the most feared conditions of the human heart is loneliness? People are more afraid of being alone or feeling alone than they are of dying.
Loneliness leads to a feeling of emptiness and aimlessness, to a feeling of inner despair. It affects a person’s whole life—loneliness affects us all. More people suffer from loneliness than any other malady that afflicts the emotions. If you were to do a search on the Internet on the word ‘lonely’ you would literally come up with millions of web pages written on the subject. I did a search on Google on that word and came up with over 86 million websites.
At one of his crusades, Luis Palau, the South-American evangelist, asked the people in his audience to indicate what subject they would most like him to speak about . From all of the possible subjects that he might speak on—from how to get to heaven to who Jesus really is to whether the Bible is true or not—the majority of the people there that night asked him to speak on the subject of loneliness.
Feeling alone is one of the most common problems in our society. A couple of years ago I read a book on homelessness. In this book, the author and a friend became homeless for about three months and then wrote about their experience. The worst part of being homeless, they said, was the feeling of utter loneliness—of feeling alone and overlooked in a sea of humanity.
More people commit suicide because of loneliness than any other cause—which is understandable, since loneliness has been called the most desolate word in the English language.
Different Degrees of Loneliness
Loneliness is a feeling of emptiness or hollowness inside you—you feel isolated or separated from the world, cut off from those you would like to have contact with. There are different kinds of loneliness and different degrees of loneliness: You might experience loneliness as a vague feeling that something is not right, a kind of minor emptiness—or you might feel loneliness as a very intense deprivation and deep pain.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 in the Old Testament has some great words:
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!
Not having a friend in the world can be a dreadful experience. But did you know all loneliness, regardless of the form, stems from humankind’s alienation from God? So, loneliness is a spiritual issue. Humankind has been struggling with loneliness ever since Adam and Eve were cut off from fellowship with God and were cast from the Garden of Eden. Loneliness is at it’s heart nothing more than the manifestation of our innate desire to be in relationship with our Creator.
Did you know that the cross was really about nothing more than relationship?—relationship with God and relationship with each other. We were created to be in fellowship—to be in relationship—with God and with other people. It is part of our nature; that is why the cross is made up of two lines: there’s a vertical line that addressed our relationship with God. That’s normally what we think of when we think of the cross—Christ making a way for us to be reconciled with the Father once again; to be able to have a relationship with him once again, because now our sins are forgiven and we are holy in his sight through the blood of Christ.
But, the cross is also made up of a horizontal line. Christ not only died to reconcile us with God—he died to reconcile us with each other; to make it possible for us to have real relationships with others here on earth that reflected our relationship with the Father. That is why God said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone.” He knows what he’s talking about.
People Need People
We need each other to stop the deep sense of loneliness. We need other people—friends who can pick us up when we fall; friends who will comfort us; who will help provide our needs; who will stand with us when we need strength and support; who will keep us from feeling alone. Do you have someone like that in your life? I do hope so.
We need to let people know that it’s OK to feel alone. Our society has made loneliness a stigma, something to be avoided; but God’s Word makes it clear that loneliness is a natural and normal part of our human existence. It is something that all people experience from time to time and it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with them—it just means that they are human. When you feel alone, it may be nothing more than a reminder from God that you were created for relationship—relationship with him and with others.
In order to have friends, we first must be a friend. We have to make friends and invest in our friendship. We have to carve out time in our busy lives to share in the lives of others. Encourage your friends to participate in an activity with you—whether it’s taking a walk, sitting and reading, watching a movie or just talking on the phone. Just remember that people are busy and lead busy lives. If they can’t do it today, call them up again tomorrow and keep doing it until you can spend time with them.