One of the saddest stories I’ve read recently involves a lady who lived in a town in Massachusetts, in
America. She lived alone in the same house for 40 years, and none of the neighbours really knew her. And then one day in October 1993 the police broke down the door to get inside and found her dead on the kitchen floor. This was no ordinary discovery. In fact, they worked out that she’d been dead for four years.
They worked out she died at the age of 73 of natural causes. That was the time that the bank transaction stopped. Four years earlier, someone had phoned the police, concerned about her whereabouts. They phoned her brother and he said that she’d gone into a nursing home. The mail had stopped and a neighbour had paid the dead woman’s grandson to cut the grass because it was looking run down. Now, her brother said that the family hadn’t been close since about 1979 when their mother died, and he said, someone should have noticed before now.
A lady across the street said “My heart bleeds for her, but you can’t blame anyone. If she saw you out there, she never said hello to you.” I thought this was a very sad, tragic story. Here’s a story of someone choosing to live alone that was cut off from anyone. But, you know, in the darkest hour of this woman’s life, no one noticed her death. No one noticed for four years, and I wonder how many more people there are living alone without a friend. It may be you that I’m talking about right now.
So today and tomorrow I want to present this question. What is loneliness? I wonder if you’ve thought about it. I guess it’s some feeling of emptiness or hollowness inside you. You feel kind of separated, isolated from the world, cut off from those that you’d like to have contact with. And you might experience loneliness as a vague feeling that something in your life is not right. You see other people enjoying themselves but you are all alone.
You might indeed have that sense of intense deprivation or deep pain and
inner pain of the spirit we could call it. You could even feel emotionally isolated when surrounded by people and have that difficulty in reaching out to people. So it needs to be said that loneliness is not the same as being alone. It’s the feeling of being alone and feeling sad about it. Now of course, all of us feel lonely sometimes. It’s only when we seem trapped in that loneliness that it becomes a real problem.
It was Billy Graham, the great evangelist, who said that in his opinion, the feeling of loneliness is the problem that
plagues more people than any other in our world. Billions of people. There are some folk who would like to get away and experience solitude. Others can’t shake this pain of being disconnected. Now the strange thing is that we fill our lives with many things like meetings, phone calls, and often we don’t connect with others. But the Bible says that God will never leave us. Friends will disappoint us, there’ll be fractures within our family, but the eternal God is always with you. The Bible says there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Isaiah 41:10 –
‘Fear not, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you…’ And here’s a wonderful promise: ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’. Psalm 147:3 says ‘He heals the brokenhearted. He binds up their wounds.’ And so if you say today I am lonely, talk to God about it and develop this ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is your most reliable friend. Another great verse of Scripture – James 4:8 says, ‘draw near to God and he will draw near to you.’ And so you have a friend for all time, you know, for all eternity. God, he knows how you feel and is with you in your time of loneliness.
Well, Lord, we all have our yesterdays. Some of us want to remember them. Others would like to forget. And we can’t change the yesterday. But we face today with new challenges, new opportunities and new possibilities. But, Lord, there are lonely people, people who find it very difficult to make choices or to tackle the difficulties. And we pray for them in the wonderful name of Jesus. Amen.
I hope you’ll join me tomorrow and we’ll talk a little bit more about
loneliness. But may God bless you and God go with you today