In today’s world there is hardly anyone who can escape being surrounded by crowds and even at night time also our minds suffer being crowded by various thoughts. The continuous influx of whatsapp, face book and other social networking sites do not let one be alone and many like to stay in touch with the rest of the world through posting minute details of their life on media. But when in a difficult situation most people find themselves alone to face that, though messages of care keep coming in. No one has found a cure for loneliness and the rate of suicides is an indicator of people not being able to face their situation in life alone.
Why do we feel lonely? Adam was created by God from the earth and put him in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15-20). Then was the prohibition of not eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil imposed. It is only after this that God declares, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’. God does not address the problem of man’s loneliness immediately but goes on to create animals, beasts etc and then brings them to Adam to name each one. It was then that God realized that ‘for Adam there was not found a helper suitable to him’. Surely God was not attempting to help Adam find a suitable helper among the animals.
The naming of animals by Adam was to define each one’s role in this world, for naming was in itself a ceremony and with that Adam established his distinctiveness from the animal world. The earthly element within him relates to the animals but the Divine breath creates a spiritual void, leading him to seek existence at a higher level, a life with a meaning. Adam undergoes a spiritual crisis at this point with the realization that the animals and beasts are from God, created by Him with great strength and capabilities, yet they are different from him. They lack the ‘breath of God’ in them and they do not have souls, making them unsuitable for him to find a companion among them.
Adam is not physically alone but in his inner being he is alone. The temptation by the serpent is also on this very level itself for animals react to passions and desires imprinted in them by God but Adam cannot. The fact that God addresses Himself to our minds and seeks proper channelization of our desires and passions for constructive use, leads to meaning for life which is different for each of us. The suitable ‘helpmeet’ that God created for Adam was ‘ezer kenegdo’ which word means that Eve was to be with him to help him be successful in life. But the meaning of the Hebrew word ‘kenegdo’ also implies that she will be against him and will not be afraid to take a stand to oppose his wrong deeds. Eve was thus created to be his real friend who cares for him to help him be what God wants both to be together while being independent. That is what man and woman seek in this world and that competitive relationship is the first reason of their loneliness despite being together.
God visited Adam and Eve everyday in the garden of Eden in the evening. The purpose of these visits on the one hand was to help them know Him through daily fellowship but also to help them know each other. After sin entered their lives that close relationship with God was shattered and their meaning to life and proper understanding of each other was also destroyed. Eve got the blame for the fall and equality was no longer there, and dominance of man started. Eve instead of being the ‘helpmeet’ became a competitor and loneliness was the result for both.
In the beginning God created the natural world with words, ‘And God said’ is the command for each step of creation. We having been made in His Divine image and likeness, create the social world with the words that we speak. When God breathed into the pile of dust man became a living being and the Jewish interpretation is that then ‘man became a speaking being’. Speech and communication builds relationships and only in this way we share our fears, our hopes, our feeling and thoughts. Lack of this is loneliness and that is lack of fullness of the very life in a human being.
How can a believer despite the permanent presence of the Lord with him – Lord Jesus has taught that ‘the kingdom of God is within you’ (Luke 17:20-21). This sets in motion a sequence of events or a process through which God governs to be King or Lord of or lives and by which God manifests His being God in our world. Satan showed the Savior Lord ‘all the kingdoms of the world and their glory’ and offered to give all that in return for surrender and worship by the Lord (Matthew 4:8-9). Lord Jesus did not question his claim of ownership or control. Then He even told the Pharisees that Satan cannot act against his own kingdom for then it will simply collapse.
Thus there are two kingdoms in the world today, one spiritual and one material, one of this world and one heavenly. Apostle Paul clarifies that, ‘Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer’ (2 Corinthians 5:16). Lord Jesus is presently seated at the right hand of God, the Father in heaven and the Holy Spirit is in us as our Teacher now. He is thus a spiritual friend for us to teach, counsel, guide, empower and lead us in the world. But we are created to be part of a community to fellowship with each other, to comfort and pray together in times of adversity and to join together in worship of God.
The reasons of loneliness could be, first, rejection by a spouse, close friend or parent due to any reason including sickness – David, after defeating Goliath was hunted by King Saul out of jealousy and abandoned by others. He cried out to God during his sickness, ‘My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; and my relatives stand afar off’ (Psalm 38:11).
Second, conflict and difficult circumstances – Internal conflicts like addiction, painful memories or adverse situations cause feeling of being lonely. Moses faced this when Pharaoh increased the work of the Israelites instead of letting them go and they blamed Moses. He cried out to God, ‘LORD why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me?’ (Exodus 5:21-23).
Third, grief and loss of a loved one leaves a large vacuum in our lives like nothing else and it takes long time to get healed.
Four, transitional changes in life like a new job, moving to a new place, university or educational institution or children moving out after marriage or employment in a different place. These are normal situations but aggravate the feeling of being lonely.
Five, anxiety about the future, especially after separation from someone, loss of job or other forms of financial or social instability. The fears of health issues, well being of self and children or financial matters make us feel helpless and alone. But worrying does not solve these issues, it rather creates further problems with health.
Lord Jesus not only suffered desertion by the disciples but having been ‘made sin for us’ felt totally alone on the cross to cry out, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ (Matthew 27:46). Our Lord quoted Psalm 22, knowing full well that those moments of loneliness and pain on the cross would lead to victory and salvation for the mankind. King David could wrote this in faith about God, ‘A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity’ (Psalm 68:5-6). In time of loneliness put your trust in God, for at times this is God ordained, to reward and give victory that is in store.
Overcoming loneliness – Isaac’s wife Rebecca conceived after he prayed to the LORD God and the twins in her womb struggled together (Genesis 25:21-23). She inquired of the LORD and was told, ‘Two nations are in your womb, two peoples will be separated from your body; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger’. Presumably Isaac was not in the know of this and he loved the elder son Esau and Rebecca planned with Jacob to trick Isaac into blessing him instead (Genesis 27).
But why did she not inform her husband about such an important thing from God? A Jewish Rabbi has made the observation that Isaac and Rebecca suffered from a lack of communication, for their relationship was not the same as between Abraham and Sarah. The basis for this is taken from the first time that she saw Isaac from a distance as he was ‘meditating in the field’ (Genesis 24-63-65). She got down from her camel and ‘covered herself with a veil’. As per the Rabbi she covered herself out of a sense of awe and inadequacy, as if she considered herself unworthy to be his wife and this never allowed her to be casual and communicative with her husband, especially in critical moments. Open communication is not only essential in a marriage to avoid being lonely but also in organizations.
Schedule visits to others to spend time with them – In today’s times, people have innumerable face book friends but none in real life and visiting and meeting others is reduced to online chats. When one moves out to meet someone socially, it displays a genuine desire to meet, for we value their friendship. Taking out time to meet people is the best antidote to loneliness.
Realize and accept the feeling for only then will you make an effort to find a solution. The reason could be new place, new job or many more and we have to make deliberate efforts to look for others company.
Seek God’s help for He is ever ready to help in every situation but does God care for my loneliness? The biggest proof of this is the promise and its fulfillment on the Day of Pentecost that another Comforter, the indwelling Holy Spirit will come for the Lord Said, ‘I will not leave you orphans’ (John 14:16-18).
The Greek word ‘ekklesia’ describes any group of believers of different races, languages and cultures who believe God has revealed Himself in and through His Son and who worship Him in the name of Lord Jesus. All believers are part of a community and one can join a church in any location wherever he is. Apostle John defines God’s intention for everyone, ‘Beloved, I pray that you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers’ (3 John 2). This involves physical, material and spiritual prosperity of a person and that is what God desires for us but this can be only when we seek Him and surrender to Him.
Physical loneliness is a God given chance to us to get closer to Him. The feeling of loneliness is from the devil and relief from this is in establishing a better and intimate relationship with God. One who has 4-5 close friends, who will stand firm with him/her is definitely blessed. Making friends and retaining their friendship takes much effort and hard work over a prolonged period of time. God created us as unique and this in itself sets us on a path of loneliness and this void is created and filled by God only.