Sometime back a famous actor, after getting separated from his second wife, lamented the fact that he did not spend much time with her and his children. All around there are innumerable people who despite being with others are still lonely. Most of the sick and dying in the hospital have this same regret of not developing close relationships with friends and family. How many share their real feelings of the heart with others for apparently all are busy in their own spheres and there is a dearth of really caring people.
Did God also feel lonely before creating the universe? Moses wanted to know God’s name to answer the Israelites question of who has sent him and God revealed His name as ‘I AM WHO I AM’ (Exodus 3:13-14). Since name is supposed to reveal the nature of the person, God revealed His nature or His being through this name. He did not say I WAS or I WILL BE since both would mean His incompleteness in the present time. Either He was perfect earlier or He will be so in the future but His statement to Moses, identifies His perfection, unchanging nature that is not influenced by anything or anyone. In this state neither can anyone add something nor remove anything from God.
Since He is perfect, the created beings reflect the expression of God’s love for all created things. He is perfect and does not need me for anything but I do. Also in the creation process every created thing has a definite source from which it came forth, that source is to sustain it and it is supposed to merge with the same source after death. The first was the call, ‘Let there be light’ for revealing God’s glory (Genesis 1:3-18), the glory of the Son of God, for all things were created by Him and are sustained by Him (Romans 11:36). After this the earth was commanded by God to bring forth grass, herbs and fruit trees and only afterwards, that sun, moon and the stars were created. Everything is sustained by the light of God’s glory which provides light to the sun and moon also. Likewise the sea creatures and finally man was created using two elements, dust of the earth and God’s breath. The body being from the earthly elements, man depends upon the earthly produce for food but the soul and spirit, being from God need God for their sustenance.
When we try and remain focused on only the earthly things the soul feels lonely for want of a meaningful relationship. We must realize that God does not need us, for He is not lonely but we need Him for our fulfillment. Human spirit is from God and must find its satisfaction in God only. The psalmist craves for this, ‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God’ (Psalm 42:1-2). Only in God can we find completion and satisfaction for our hunger for Him.
Who do we feel lonely? Today’s generation suffers from the focusing problem and as per studies an individual’s focus span now is between five to ten seconds only. We suffer from a curious phenomenon called ‘FOMO’ or ‘fear of missing out’ and the constant stream of beeps from our devices keeps us trapped. Even on a vacation most people miss out on the beauty of a place because of the desire to tell and show everyone else about themselves, through photos. It is common to have our lists of things we want to do and achieve but miss out for want of adequate time for new things keep on coming out that need our attention. We see everyone else through their posts in the media and feel envious but fall into the trap of loneliness despite so many people complimenting us. All these options keep us on the edge with no peace of mind and we are perpetually anxious with a feeling that we should be doing something else and in some other place. As a result we are never satisfied with our present state and place, always seeking more.
After creating Adam and all that he would ever need, God declared, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’ (Genesis 2:18-24). Surprisingly, after this God simply forgot about this and ‘the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them’. After this process was completed it was noticed by God that ‘for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him’. Surely God was not checking if any animal would be a suitable partner for man. It was only after this that God made the woman from Adam’s rib, a place next to the heart so that the two may have a close relationship of love with each other. On seeing the woman, Adam could say, ‘they shall become one flesh’ and were bonded together as one. After sin, he blamed the woman and indirectly God also saying, ‘the woman that You gave to me to be with me’ gave me the fruit to eat, as if he was not responsible. And then he named her as ‘chavah/havah’ meaning chavah ‘to breathe’ and havah ‘to live or give life’, thus calling the woman as full of life or mother of life. The effect of sin on the woman was, ’your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you’. The Hebrew word ‘teshuqah’ means ‘desire, longing, to control’ and the same word is used in (Genesis 4:7) where Cain was warned by God about sin knocking at the door with a desire to rule over him.
Due to sin therefore, there is a continuous undercurrent of stress which both woman and man have to handle. This is only possible with the involvement of the source of our strength, God. But we keep looking at various other ways to satisfy this urge and resist each other whereas fulfillment of both is in each other and God.
Loneliness is a feeling that is independent of the physical presence of others but is about the fear of being isolated, disconnected or misunderstood by them. It is about the fear of being rejected by others. The Israelites sought prophet Samuel to appoint a king over them and he was very ‘displeased’ but the LORD set things straight (1 Samuel 8:6-7). The prophet was told by God, ‘they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them’. But God did not get affected by this or any other sin of mankind and continues to love. The devil enters the relationship when we give him space and that is what we are warned against (Ephesians 4:27).
Another aspect of loneliness is about the way God created us. Man is a spirit, this is the part that God had breathed into man; and the soul is given to a man as a source of thinking, the mind; emotions and feelings, the heart and the resultant conscience and all this is placed in the body. The body is formed from the earthly elements and is always affected by the five senses whereas the spirit is our only connection with God, who is a Spirit (John 4:24). The spiritual relationship with God is further strengthened in a believer through the indwelling Holy Spirit, who ‘teaches you all things’ (John 14:26). Soul is the link between and supposed to be under control of the spirit and the body is supposed to listen to the soul. With the entry of the worldly knowledge of ‘good and evil’ after sin, this knowledge and with that sin has taken charge of the body and the process of control is reversed. The spirit of the natural man is silent and the soul instead of controlling is controlled by the body, which looks for joy and gratification in worldly things. The natural composition of man having been reversed, a perpetual hunger for material things of the world exists in man.
Whatever one gets, he desires more and in this race of domination, loneliness is inherent. We may have many friends but since each has his/her own hunger, everyone is fighting this battle for himself. As a result relationships are used for personal gratification with no satisfaction. This dual nature of man causes the body to crave for more and more perishable things while the spirit, being eternal, desires heavenly and eternal things. The spirit filled with faith, rejoices in the love of God expressed in His Son while the body seeks sensuous experiences. God leads us into an exalted state but the body leads us to the debased state of sin. The call of God to greatness can only be answered with the realization of our failings and faults and we decide who we want to partner with, God, the devil or self. And this also tells upon our relationships. We depend on our own greatness and consider everyone else below us.
The second hindrance to close relationships is false humility as some believe that they are incapable and shy and should not even try to get close to others. The third is worldly helplessness and the belief that we cannot change others because we cannot change ourselves. We get to love a person or we make friends with a person for who he is and then start trying to change him as per our plan for him. This is bound to fail and we either withdraw into a shell or give up. The two Great Commandments from Lord Jesus are loving God and then loving your neighbor as yourself. We are supposed to help others in their distress and find joy in helping them rather than remain self centered. Once we start shifting our focus on others around us, firstly, we learn about the struggles of others and our own problems seem small. Secondly, those who receive any help, even ‘a glass of cold water’ is seen by God and we also get new friends who really care about others and us. God is with us but we must start seeing Him in others also and that only happens when we meet others and not on facebook, instagram or whatsapp.
How can we help the lonely? Sometime back we received a call at midnight from a young man who wanted to commit suicide because of the pressure of great expectations of his very rich father. It took almost two hours to help him shift his focus from others to himself and he started a small business in another area without anyone’s help. His hard work and caring attitude for others helped him establish his work and today, filled with self confidence and faith in the Lord, he is a successful business partner with his father. The sick, the old (both rich and poor) and those abandoned by their families look for someone who can really listen to their story and feel their pain. The situation is aggravated because of nuclear families where both parents are employed and the old live separately in some other location. Many of these old people require just the listening ear or some company or help in settling their tax reports or help in getting the grocery and innumerable such small things. We can identify and plan a visit to such people either daily for a short time or as per their need.
There are many young people doing this in large cities but we can help others wherever we are. Such visits are looked forward to by both parties, for the moment we start giving joy to others our inner being also starts getting strengthened. The concept of tithe in most religions is based on the same principle of the two commandments of the Lord. One who really loves God cannot restrain himself from loving His created beings. Our joy can never be fully met through the material things but only by the use of these for spiritual pursuits and for helping others.
In the history of creation the worst loneliness, very deep and dark could only be experienced by the Son of God on the cross when He became sin for us. That moment is beyond comprehension because of its horrific nature, when at that moment, Lord Jesus felt forsaken by His Father (Matthew 27:46) , deserted by His disciples and bruised severely, both physically and spiritually ‘beyond human semblance’ (Isaiah 52:14). Since we are a part of His heavenly family and citizens of God’s kingdom (Ephesians 2: 19) and rightfully we can seek out the One who has undergone the worst form of loneliness and who is willing to help. God promises, ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things’ (Jeremiah 33:3). God is willing to show what He wants to do for us but are we willing to call to Him and put aside our devices for a certain time daily to be with Him.
The Holy Spirit dwells in each and every believer and when becomes a Teacher for each one of us and dwells in us, how can we be lonely? People go into depression and loneliness when they disengage from the present and start living in the past, blaming themselves and others for their present state. We are created in the image and likeness of the Great ‘I AM’ and our life cannot be lived in the past or the future, while blaming others for the mishaps or dreaming about the future rule of the King of kings on the earth. The psalmist rightly declares, ‘This is the day that the LORD has made and we will rejoice in it’ for this is the necessity of life.