I recall that when I was about 18, hearing a song on the radio that became very popular. It was sung by the American rock band “Three Dog Night” and written by Harry Neilson, called “One”. The words were “one is the loneliest number you’ll ever do. it’s just no good anymore since you went away”.
I think a lot of people of my age group will remember the song. It was a sad song about the bleak feeling of being alone with a bleak future.. I think there is a big problem around the world with many people feeling a sense of isolation. On a Facebook page recently I saw what one young man wrote.
“If you want to experience REAL loneliness, I suggest you live MY life for 1 week. I work in a kitchen, but I work by myself and nobody ever talks to me unless they NEED something, I listen to my ipod to stay entertained and have conversations with the voices in my head so I have someone to talk to. I get home and spent 5 hours alone in my room doing whatever. The only way to combat loneliness is to become your best friend. Get to know yourself. Talk to yourself. You know yourself better than
anyone else”. That’s how he felt anyway, and I guess he’s not alone
Billy Graham was being interviewed one night on American television. The interviewer said “Mr Graham, you’ve met every world leader of any renown and importance over the past 50 years. You’ve preached to millions of people. What would you say is the biggest problem in the world today? Billy Graham thought about the question and surprised everyone with his one word answer – “Loneliness”. That’s all he said. There was silence, because the audience thought he would give a different answer .. like hunger, poverty, aids or pollution. But in all his experience, he believed loneliness is the most serious problem in our world. And I’m sure Billy Graham is correct. People will do almost anything to avoid being alone. It can be a devastating experience that says “I’m all alone in this big world with no-one who understands me or loves me”.
In his book Six Hours One Friday, author Max Lucado writes about taking a walk through an old cemetery in his hometown. Many of the graves were of people who lived and died in the 19th century. Many of the names belonged to children.. One grave he came across struck him sharply. It had no dates of birth or death, just the name of a woman and her two husbands. The epitaph on the grave read simply, “Sleeps but rests not. Loved but was loved not. Tried to please, but pleased not, Dies as she lived – alone”,
What a sad testimony, to have lived and died alone. We tend to think life among the pioneers and settlers might have been more lonely than our lives. No telephones or dependable mail system, no neighbours close by to keep company with. But the truth is just the opposite. Loneliness has reached epidemic proportions in our modern world. Even though we have many ways to communicate with the outside world at our fingertips, people today are lonelier than they have ever been in history.
So what is loneliness? Loneliness is not the same as physical isolation. Instead, it is a feeling of deprivation and dissatisfaction ..there’s social isolation created by the lack of a social network, and emotional isolation. Today more and more people live alone and don’t have opportunity to share with others, just like our friend who wrote on his Facebook page. By loneliness I do not mean we are plagued by being alone, or by the feeling that comes with being alone. Rather, I mean that humankind is afflicted by feeling lonesome, whether isolated or with a large group of people. This loneliness is a yearning for someone or something that most people cannot quite place. It is a sensation of an emptiness inside. It is a longing to be fully understood and completely known. It is the reason people can be in a room surrounded by loved ones, or having an intimate conversation with their closest friend, and still feel lonely inside.
Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said, “The deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness.” The Bible says, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The great English poet John Milton reminded us that loneliness is the first thing which God said was not good. In the Old Testament, King David went through a lonely period in his life. We read about it in Psalm 102. v1,2,6-7. “I pray to you Lord. Please listen. Don’t hide from me in my time of trouble. I am like a lonely owl in the desert or a restless sparrow alone on a roof”. He knew the intensity of loneliness.
How comforting to know that the Bible gives comfort in Hebrews 13:5 to us today “The Lord has promised that He will not leave us or desert us”