Summary: Loneliness and feelings of abandonment can rob us of life’s joys. The Bible offers clear paths that we can take to overcome loneliness and regain the joy of life.
Psalm 22:1-2, 19-21, 27-31 “Letting Go of Loneliness”
In the book, Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean Auel, the main character Aila commits an unpardonable sin. She is a woman, but she likes to hunt, which is the domain of the men. The Clan passes a death sentence on her, and cast her from the clan. The clan ignores her and treats her as if she doesn’t exist. They believe that once they have passed a death sentence, that only the person’s ghost appears. Aila is an outcast. She is totally alone. She must go and fend for herself. In the struggle for life at the beginning of humankind’s existence, a person could not live without community—a part from the clan. Being alone was truly a death sentence.
We have all experienced loneliness in our lives. We know what it is like to be an outcast—either from the actions of others or because of our own actions. It is not a pleasant time of life.
LONELINESS—AN EXPERIENCE OF LIFE
When we were teenagers, we often were lonely because we didn’t fit in. We saw ourselves as different—usually in a bad way—and so did our peers. We were lonely because we did not have a community—a group to belong to—and we were by ourselves.
When we are overwhelmed by grief, we feel lonely. We have lost someone whom we loved deeply and we are not sure how we will ever survive without his or her presence in our lives. We are suddenly very lonely.
There are times when sickness makes us lonely. We face the loss of health, the reality of life changing or terminal illness individually. When we do we feel separated from others.
Loss of job, relationships, or any other loss, can bring us face to face with loneliness.
When we are lonely, we feel and believe that we are the only people who have ever experienced such a loss, grief, or life changing experience.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, faced the ultimate loneliness. On the cross, God the Father forsook Jesus. Jesus experienced a living hell, being completely separated from God and totally alone.
PREPARING FOR THE INEVITABLE
If loneliness is a human experience and not just unique to either you or me, then it is important for us to both prepare for those times when we are lonely and learn how to deal with loneliness.
One of the first steps in dealing with loneliness is understanding that we live in a relationship with a God who has experienced loneliness himself, and who knows what loneliness is. We can enter into God’s presence with our cries of despair and know that God hears us and understands our situation.
The second step in dealing with loneliness is realizing that though we may feel lonely, we are not. God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, including grief, loss, sickness, or being different.
A third step in dealing with loneliness is focusing on building relationships with other people. It is important for us to be intentional about these relationships and to work on nurturing them. Participating in small group ministries and spending time with others are important aspects of this.
The final action that we need to take in dealing with loneliness is to give up our self-pity. We are not the only ones who have ever gone through whatever experience we are encountering. God is able to help us out of the pity pit and set us on the path toward healing and community.
It is not God’s will that any of God’s children should be lonely. It is for this reason that God dwells with us in the person of the Holy Spirit, and God gathers us into a community of believers that we call a congregation.
God invites us to let go of our loneliness and come to God as a child seeks comfort and solace in the presence of a parent.
God invites us to find companionship and strength in our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Loneliness is a life experience, but it doesn’t need to be a life sentence.