Summary: What does the Bible say about loneliness? What are key biblical principles that I should apply to develop meaningful friendships in my life?
DEALING WITH OUR EMOTIONS – PART FOUR
“ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER!”
GENESIS 1:26 ©LARRY L THOMPSON (2003)
Today’s Emotion Quotient tackles the feeling of loneliness. Loneliness is an emotional condition few people will admit to in polite conversation. The reason is that we think we’re the only one who struggles with the feeling. However, there are honest folks like the columnist for the Chicago Sun Times who reluctantly admitted in an article that she was extremely lonely.
“The loneliness saddens me,” The columnist wrote. “How did it happen that I could be forty-two years old and not have enough friends?” She ended her column this way: “I think there are women out there who don’t know how lonely they are. It’s easy enough to fill up the day with work and family. But no matter how much I enjoy my job and love my husband and child, I still continue to feel this deep void the emotion of loneliness. I recently read my daughter Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling. I felt an immediate kinship with this bird that flies from place to place looking for creatures with which he can share commonality. He eventually finds them. I hope I do too.”
Then something surprising happened.
The day after column appeared, the operator at the Sun Times was absolutely flooded with calls. Emails and letters poured in from housewives, executives, university professors and ministers. The column generated seven times more mail than any other article she had written for the paper.
“They wanted to share their pain, their frustration and their feeling of estrangement. The article actually appeared to be somewhat therapeutic in that many were tremendously relieved to discover they weren’t the only ones who experienced these dark periods of loneliness.” (Quote from Lee Strobel)
Rock Superstar Sting summarized these feelings in one of his hit lyrics, “Seems I not alone at being alone. Hundred million castaways, all searching for a home.” Musicians throughout every generation have tackled this subject. In my college days it was Three Dog Night with their hit, “One…” All you Baby boomers sing it with me “One is the loneliest number that you’ll every do…”
There’s a legitimate reason why were feel this way. It’s not because we’re wimps and need people as crutches. It’s not a weakness or character flaw to desire fulfilling relationships with other people. HERE’S THE REASON WE HAVE THIS NEED FOR FRIENDSHIP AND FELLOWSHIP: GOD CREATED US FOR COMMUNITY.
Please note the pronouns God used when creating humanity.
“Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Who was God speaking to when he said this? God was speaking to Himself. Only the Christian faith informs us how this can be. In the theology of the Trinity we understand God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three persons, but one God. All three persons of the Godhead consulted and became personally involved in the creation of man. Great comfort should come to the believer really meditates upon this glorious truth. He sees that God planned him with a very special plan and that God cares for him and loves him with a very special care and love. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were all involved in planning and creating him. God’s plan for His creation was so important that it necessitated the fullness of God’s presence. GOD exists in community. We are physical reflections of that spiritual reality. We have a built in need for community. We are incomplete apart from significant relationships with other people. In fact, after God created the first man and pronounced everything as “GOOD” however, He noticed one thing was “NOT GOOD.”
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
We each have a built in need for deep, satisfying relationships within the community of mankind. Tragically there are times we deny the way we’re created for community and run away from that legitimate need.
ILLUSTRATION: Dr. Robert Putnam, Harvard Study: “The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey”
“Americans as a whole don’t volunteer, don’t join clubs, don’t know their neighbors, don’t trust each other and otherwise neglect the basic needs of fellowship as outlined in Genesis. The result: we have a nation of strangers who are increasingly unhappy, alienated, crime-ridden and continually live in isolation.” The study interviewed about 29,200 people in over 40 different communities throughout the United States. The study indicated that “The degree in which we socialize with one another, trust one another and join with one another in community life, predicts a city’s quality of life far better than levels of education or income.”