We can be surrounded by people and still be lonely

According to an article on dailymail.co.uk, “Loneliness has become a major problem of our time … it has reached epidemic proportions.”

According to an article on dailymail.co.uk, “Loneliness has become a major problem of our time … it has reached epidemic proportions.”

Loneliness is compounded and protracted by the tendency of lonely people not to disclose their problem. When people do share their loneliness, their comments should always be taken seriously.

Loneliness is an anxious emotional condition or state of mind related to feelings of isolation (perceived or real). Loneliness is complex and varies from person to person.

And being alone and being lonely are two different things. People can be alone without being lonely and be surrounded by people but still experience loneliness.

The Hebrew word translated “lonely” in our English Bible means, “one who is alone, solitary, forsaken, or wretched.” That highlights the intense, emotionally impoverished nature of loneliness and explains why lonely people feel deserted and devoid of friends or anyone that cares.

As spiritual beings, we need God. In the Old Testament, we discover that King David had many enemies and experienced intense times of loneliness.

As a fugitive, he had to hide in caves while his adversaries sought to kill him. In Psalm 25:16,17, David asked God to, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted … free me from my anguish.”

David correctly ascertained that God could meet him and his needs and that while many others were forsaking him, God would never abandon him.

We are also social creatures and need a degree of connection with other people. This normally occurs through family, friends and acquaintances.

Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 says, “Two are better than one .. if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”

Our connectivity to others provides companionship and friendship. Not only does that help in meeting our needs, but we usually find that our greatest fulfillment occurs when interacting with and caring for others.

It’s interesting that the word lonely is used several times in the Old Testament to describe people. The word lonely is used only twice in the New Testament and both times it refers to desolate places; it never has reference to people.

That tells me that whatever causes loneliness, for the Christian the cure is the comforting fellowship of Christ.

“Aloneness can lead to loneliness. God’s preventative cure for loneliness is intimacy — meaningful, open, sharing relationships with one another. In Christ we have the capacity for the fulfilling sense of belonging which comes from intimate fellowship with God and with other believers.” Neil T. Anderson

Are you lonely? Reach out for HIM … and out to others. Do you know a lonely person? Reach out to them.

Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.

— Faith & Reflection