Summary: Social isolation is not the only cause of loneliness, there are many situations which cause us to feel alone. Jesus identifies with our loneliness and his sovereign grace gives us the ability to move beyond feelings of loneliness to a place of identity and purpose.
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Jesus Is Still Sovereign
When I Feel Alone
In these past 5 weeks have you said one of these phrases more regularly.
“I feel isolated.”
“I want to connect.”
“I need other people.”
“I feel alone.”
There is no doubt that the situation we are faced with at the moment has caused a greater sense of loneliness.
Being alone is not good.
Now, of course, there are times when you want to be alone, or when you choose to be alone, or when you need space, or when you are comfortable being alone. While some of us at the moment might be saying, “I feel alone” … there are others who look at their home situation and say … “I wish I was alone!” I know people who are even enjoying the “alone time” that they have. Being alone in and of itself is not something that is negative or detrimental. Even Jesus needed to be alone.
After (Jesus) had dismissed (the disciples), he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.
This “aloneness” is not what is in in focus. Rather we are talking about the situations of “forced aloneness.” We see the first case of “forced aloneness” in Genesis 1 and 2.
… the light was good.
… the vegetation produced by the land was good.
… the creation of winged creatures, and sea creatures, and land creatures was good.
But, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.’” (Genesis 2:18).
Did you hear that? Being forced to sit alone … going through a season when you feel alone … being in this emotional situation when we don’t want to be … it is not good.
And I’m not just talking about the aloneness which comes because of the coronavirus restrictions. It has been hard, but it has been about 40 days since the strictest restrictions have been in place … and even these are starting to be lifted. It will get easier … and soon. So this aloneness time is hard but temporary.
There is “aloneness” which is less temporary, and more impacting, than what we are experiencing at the moment.
The aloneness of death. A parent. A spouse. A sibling. A friend. We know that for those who are in Christ no even death will separate us from the love of God – the string of death has been taken by the resurrection of Jesus.
But the person is still no longer with us.
The memories we have of them are all we get to hold.
A piece of us, sometimes a very bit piece, is gone.
Closely connected to that is the aloneness of aging. The older we become the more isolated and separate we get. Long term friends pass away. Children and grand-children get busier and busier with their own lives. Progressively older people end up in aged-care facilities where visiting takes more effort. Even our own memories can fade.
Aloneness can just as easily happen to young people. Trying to establish a group of friends isn’t easy. We can find ourselves being on the edge or being forgotten totally. When we are younger friendships easily break – today we are BFF’s – best friend forever – tomorrow we are not even talking to one another. And, now, because you were friends with her, I can’t be friends with you. Oh the joys of raising teenage girls. Youth establishing a peer network. It really is a hard time of life.
Aloneness can come because of the expectations of society. We need to make quite a lot of money just to have the basics in this country. Both husband and wife work to make ends meet, and kids are in school and day-care … then when we get home it is rush, rush rush to do dinner and clean up and be ready for the next day. Then over time there is very little room for other people and more and more it is just your family … and more and more it is just survival. Alone.
In many ways we are more alone than ever. An Australian study conducted, by the Swinburne University and the Australian Psychological Society, from May to October 2018 found the following.
• 50.5% … so that is 1 in 2 … Australians feel lonely for at least one day in a week.
• 27.6% … about 1 in 4 … feel lonely for three or more days.
• 55% of the population feel they lack companionship at least sometimes.
• Of that number 62% were young adults compared to 46% of seniors.
When the lockdown is all over there will still be plenty of “aloneness”.