Loneliness is the painful realization that we lack meaningful and close relationships with others. This lack leads to emptiness, melancholy, isolation, and even despair. A sense of rejection and a low self-image are present because we can’t relate, or we feel left out and unwanted, no matter how hard we try to belong. The kind of society we live in can contribute to loneliness. It is difficult for some to maintain a strong identity and meaningful relationships amid what seems to be a jungle of bureaucracy, specialization, regimentation, and competition. Mobility and constant change tend to make some individuals feel rootless and disconnected. Loneliness can be self-inflicted. Some people find it difficult to communicate with others or lack confidence because they have a poor self image. Others yearn for togetherness, yet their demand for privacy and independence inhibits the development of meaningful ties with others. The fear of exposure of their inner selves results in a kind of social paralysis.
In many of his messages, Billy Graham has referred to that “cosmic loneliness” of the person who is separated from God and feels that life has little meaning. He says, “There are thousands of lonely people who carry heavy and difficult burdens of grief, anxiety, pain, and is appointment; but the loneliest of all is one whose life is steeped in sin.”
One of the results of the Fall is that humankind became alienated from God. This alienation caused Adam and Eve to hide from God and to try to cover up their sin. It is only as we find forgiveness in Christ that we are relieved of the loneliness resulting from this alienation from God. The psalmist exulted in God’s work in his life by writing, “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3). This restoration removes the causes of our alienation: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:21–22, NIV). Our restoration to fellowship with God also involves our being indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NIV). Thus, we are complete in Him: “And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:10).
Billy Graham offers his own experience for encouragement: “I will give you a little recipe I have found for conquering loneliness. First, I am never lonely when I am praying, for this brings me into companionship with the greatest friend of all—Jesus Christ. He said, ‘I call you not servants, but friends’ (see John 15:15). Then, I am never lonely when I am reading the Bible. I read it every day— whole chapters of it. Nothing dissolves loneliness like a session with God’s Word.” There are many verses in the Bible that are comforting when dealing with lonliness:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).
“He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5–6).