Anne Hathaway stated, “Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I am most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me.” Mother Teresa speaking in a more general sense noted, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”
There is a special pain associated with loneliness that few can understand without going through the experience. One of my favorite poems is Oliver Wendell Holmes Last Leaf. He wrote the poem in 1837 and the feeling of loneliness is as same today as when he wrote the following verses.
But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets
Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
“They are gone!”
The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has prest
In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb.
I’m not ashamed to say that I still miss my mother and father. Growing up it was hard to think of them as not always being there, and since they both lived to a good age I had them in my life much longer than many people have the privilege of having their own parents. But I still miss them. There is a hole in my heart that doesn’t seem to want to heal. I’ve had a hard time putting my finger on exactly what caused that hole in regards to my parents until I stopped to realize it was loneliness.
I have never lost a child, but I have friends who have and I have to admit I can’t even imagine the feeling of loneliness that stems from such a loss. And I have lots of friends who are widows and I know that many of them still mourn the loss of their life partner.
But for millions of people there is a different loneliness and that revolves around never having had anyone in their life to bring companionship and joy. They have struggled along going home to an empty apartment or house each evening, eating alone in front of the television and knowing tomorrow brings more of the same.
I’m now told there are also millions of people who feel alone even while in a relationship. These people feel trapped by circumstances that have grown beyond their control. They look across the table each morning at their spouse but there is nothing there. They have lost connection to their grown children who have moved on with their lives and never look back. And then there are the people who are in constant disagreement with close family members and must live with the pain of knowing their closest relatives have turned their back on them.
What I am saying is that loneliness comes in many shapes and through scores of circumstances. Of all the tools in Satan’s arsenal loneliness has to be one of his greatest weapons because prolonged loneliness is often the foundation for absolute discouragement. And when we are discouraged we are vulnerable to quick fixes that can leave us further battered and bruised.
Yet not all people who are alone in life are lonely. Paul Tillich wrote, “Language…..has created the word, “loneliness,” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word, “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.” I am a very social person who likes people and being around people, but there are millions of people who enjoy their solitude. They find fulfillment and joy in the presence of their own company. Instead of believing life has passed them by they revel in the wonders of what life has delivered and find contentment and peace where many of us would only feel loneliness.
Whether we feel loneliness from a deep sense of need or we live a life of solitude there are a number of Bible verses that I hope will give you encouragement and strength in your journey.
Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
Joshua 1:5, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”
Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Matthew 28:20, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Philippians 4:6-8, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’
There are, of course, many more texts I could have shared but these illustrate for us that our God cares for us and never abandons or forsakes us. As Christians we are susceptible to the same loneliness and pain as the rest of humanity, but we have hope, assurance and a future. For the widow there is the knowledge that one day she will be reunited with her husband. For the mother who lost her child she knows that there will be a reunion, and for those who are broken in sorrow and discouragement all will be made whole again.
I know the knowledge of God’s love doesn’t provide the companion we might desperately wish was there for us, but on a spiritual level it gives us peace. Here’s a simple and maybe overly simplistic suggestion, this coming weekend go to church. Find out where there is a small group meeting in your area and attend. I can tell you that I have made wonderful friends this way. Not only will you grow spiritually, but you will find people who care for you and love you unconditionally. If you are tired of being alone make the first move.
God loves you and longs for your happiness. Be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and step out in faith. Trust God to lead you and direct your path and He will lead you to friendship and contentment. It is not easy, but it is very possible because God wants only the best for you.
* Please remember our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for their faith. They are not forgotten or alone. Some of their stories can be found at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/