One of the fallouts of the pandemic is that many people are now plagued with a sense of loneliness. When you consider the social distancing and isolation of the last two years, it is no small wonder that many have suffered from loneliness.
Shortly after God created the first man, He said in Genesis 2:18 (NKJV), “It is not good that man should be alone…” WOW! Is that ever the truth!
Loneliness knows no social, economic, or age boundaries. The person who lives alone can be afflicted, as well as those who are surrounded by crowds. Loneliness is not just the feeling that nobody is around. Many times, it is the sense that nobody understands, nobody cares, nobody knows or wants to know the real me.
When I was young, I felt alone. Because we didn’t have much, it seemed our family was looked down upon. Even in church, I sensed that we weren’t very well accepted. That was one of the reasons I had a hard time surrendering to the Lord’s call to the ministry. In my heart, I believed all people – regardless of their social status, education, race, etc. – were important to God.
In Bible College, I met this beautiful young woman, Barbara, from Yakima, WA. After we had gone together for some time, I asked her to share my life and she said YES! I could hardly believe it. When we married, I felt accepted, loved, and whole. Six years later when the Lord called her home, I felt so alone again. There was such a huge hole in my heart. Who would ever want to marry a pastor with two very young children and a mountain of medical bills?
One thing I learned through it all was – with the Lord in control of my life, anything is possible. Another miracle – He brought Joyce into my life. Suddenly the hole in my heart closed, and in spite of the several health issues Joyce had over our fifty-five years, we had a wonderful life together.
I am super blessed because I have a loving family living with me and assisting me in the ministry. I am also surrounded by a church family that I dearly love and that loves me. My cup is full and running over, but I find myself from time to time feeling alone and lonely. Thank God that Jesus is ever with me and I know He won’t abandon me.
We were created and designed to live in relationships and fellowship with others. We deeply desire to know other people and to be known by them. We long to have a least one other person to be at the center of our lives, to understand our pain and share our joys.
Loneliness is compounded when we keep our feelings inside, under the cloak of self-imposed individualism. Sometimes people think, “I don’t want to burden anyone with my problems.” Or, “I don’t want anyone to know how weak and vulnerable I am.” Or, “I don’t want anyone to know what I am going through, so I will just keep it to myself.”
Janis Joplin was born on January 19, 1943, in Port Arthur, TX. She died October 4, 1970, from what they believe was an accidental drug overdose. Janis rose to fame in the 1960s. She was known for her powerful blues-inspired vocals. She was dubbed the first queen of rock-n-roll. One time she admitted to a friend, “When I am not on the theater stage I just lie around, watch television and feel very lonely.” Janis was 27 years old when she died.
In Psalm 68:5-6 (NLT) David wrote this of God – “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows-this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But He makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”
The phrase “He places the lonely in families” is interesting and has several interpretations, one being that He provides homes for those who are alone. The word “home” could mean a dwelling or family. I choose to link it with what we shared earlier where God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Further in Genesis 2:18 (NIV) God says, “I will make a helper suitable for him.”
There are many married people who are lonely, for various reasons. Life was meant to be shared. Often communication breaks down, so silence and solitude set in. We need to be open, honest, and vulnerable with each other. In James 1:19 (NOG) we read, “Remember this, my dear brothers and sisters: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and should not get angry easily.” Most of us were born with two ears and one mouth. I have to believe that God wants us to realize how important it is for us to really listen before we speak.
One New Year’s Day, a millionaire, who took pride in never offering a tip for any service, faced an unforgettable tragedy: his chief accountant committed suicide. The books were found to be in perfect order, and the affairs of the deceased – a modest bachelor – were prosperous and calm. The only thing left by the accountant to his millionaire employer was a brief note which read: “In thirty years I have never had one word of encouragement. I’m fed up!” WHAT A DIFFERENCE A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT COULD HAVE MADE!
Lonely feelings come from within and usually grow with negative thought patterns. Satan loves to have us think negative thoughts which are frequently contrary to what the Bible teaches. They can cause us to avoid social settings and shut ourselves off from relationships with others. Do you find yourself thinking like this?
· Nobody truly cares about me or likes me.
· I just do not like being around people.
· I feel like I am an inconvenience.
· I do not want to be embarrassed.
· I am not comfortable being vulnerable.
· I fear being rejected.
It is so important to replace such negative thoughts with a positive affirmation from Scripture!
· God loves me. John 3:16
· God doesn’t condemn me. Romans 8:1
· God accepts me. Ephesians 1:6
· God adopts me. Romans 8:15
· God cares about me. 1 Peter 5:7
· God’s grace is sufficient for me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
· God will give me strength in every situation. Isaiah 40:31
· God will supply all my needs. Philippians 4:19
There is much more that could be shared about loneliness. Right now, I urge you to develop the closest intimacy with God who loves you. Let the LORD and His word fill that God-shaped hole in your heart. Be involved with the fellowship and body life of the church. Look beyond yourself. Think about others – be a friend to them. Then if you still need someone to talk with, call me. You are important to the LORD so that makes you important to me.
Blessings in the wonderful name of Jesus,