All the Lonely People, Where Do They All Come From?

All the Lonely People, Where Do They All Come From?

You “baby boomers” may recognize this title as a line from the sad song the Beatles recorded about two lonely people, Eleanor Rigby and Father Mackenzie. About 20 years earlier, Hank Williams recorded the classic song “I’m So Lonesome, I Could Cry”.

We could name many others. Why do we like to listen to songs about loneliness? Perhaps it is because we can identify so well with them.

There was survey in 2018 of 20,000 adults, 18 and up. This survey found that many adults feel lonely, disconnected, left out, misunderstood, and devoid of meaningful relationships. Understand this survey was done in 2018 before COVID-19. Since then millions of people have been confined to their homes, unable to socialize like they were used to, unable to have contact with relatives, unable to enjoy recreation, sports, worship services, and so on. Social distancing encourages people to keep at least 6 feet from others. Some people haven’t had a hug for months. As a result, many people feel lonelier now than ever before.

Loneliness is often associated with a lack of connection and intimacy. Loneliness is distinct from solitude. Solitude is simply the state of being apart from others. Not everyone who experiences solitude feels lonely. Loneliness can be felt even when surrounded by other people. That is because there are different types of loneliness.

Social loneliness is the most common type. You can experience it when you lack social connections or activities. For example, during quarantines, people feel socially lonely while stuck in their home and unable see friends or family.

Whereas, emotional loneliness does not necessarily involve being alone. You could be in the presence of friends and family but feel emotionally disconnected from them. Some people avoid social activities, because worse than being alone is the feeling of loneliness in the midst of a group of people.

Intellectual loneliness is the inability to discuss things with other people that are important and interesting to you. It comes from a lack of compatible or like-minded individuals to share your interests and views with. Currently, if you are not interested in deer hunting, football, or politics, you could experience intellectual loneliness.

The most dangerous of all the different types is spiritual loneliness. It doesn’t come from a lack of social or emotional connections. It is an overall feeling of detachment from everyone and belonging nowhere—a feeling that your life is incomplete and lacks meaning. There is a vague sense of longing, but you cannot say what or who you long for. It is a void that can only be filled by God.

When God created the world, He declared that everything was good. The sun, the earth, the moon, and the stars—all good. He was pleased with the animals, pleased with the mountains, pleased with the oceans, and pleased with the plants.

Above all, God was most pleased with His supreme work: man, who was made in God’s image. All was good—except one thing.

Genesis 2:18-23 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept, took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

You may be familiar with this historical event, but don’t miss this important point: God gave mankind a desire for a relationship with Him and for a relationship with each other. In the absence of people, we will fantasize a relationship.

To illustrate, in the movie “Castaway”, a man survives a plane crash into the ocean and is stranded on an uninhabited island. Some of the packages from the plane washed ashore. In one of the packages is a Wilson volleyball. After a period of absolute loneliness, He makes a face on the volleyball with his own blood, and calls it “Wilson”. He has imaginary conversations with “Wilson” and even argues with it. After several years, he attempts to leave the island on a raft and he takes “Wilson” with him. During a storm, “Wilson” is swept away by the waves. The man weeps bitterly at the loss of his only companion.

Fortunately, we are not stranded on an uninhabited island. There are people all around us. So, why do we still feel lonely?

It is not the number of people around you that determines your loneliness. It is your relationship to them. People can be near you physically, but far from your heart. You can be the life of the party and still be relationally alone.

Loneliness is no respecter of persons. You can have lots of children and grandchildren and still be lonely from a lack of contact or understanding.

You can be wealthy and lonely, such as Howard Hughes.

You can be beautiful and lonely, such as Marilyn Monroe.

You can be married and lonely. (Yes, many people get married because they are lonely, and they get divorced for the same reason.)

Loneliness can be the consequence of sin, because sin separates us from God and from one another. Instead of turning to God in repentance and seeking restitution with fellow human beings, sinners often seek to escape their loneliness through involvement with drugs, sex, work, sports, or a host of other activities that fail to solve their problem. When God is ignored and sin remains unconfessed, loneliness is likely to persist.

There are scores of people in the Bible who experienced temporary loneliness of one type or another. Moses, Job, Noah, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ruth, Esther, Mary, and others had to confront loneliness. Even Jesus, in His earthly ministry, often found Himself alone and misunderstood by His own human family and His closest disciples. He even felt abandoned by His Father while He bore the world’s sins upon the cross.

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

But it is the Apostle Paul who most detailed in Scripture the realities of wrestling with loneliness. Near the end of his “roller coaster” life, Paul was all alone in a Roman dungeon and awaiting his certain execution that could come any day. For all of the sacrifices he made, all of the lives God used him to touch and transform, all of the people he blessed and churches he planted, Paul nevertheless found himself alone and largely abandoned and forgotten! It was at this time and in this lonely state that Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote his last letter—one of encouragement and ministry training to Timothy. Near the end of the letter, Paul writes:

2 Timothy 4:16-18 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Paul’s case he was literally imprisoned. For many of us, however, it is more a matter of feeling imprisoned by our circumstances.

Loneliness arises when friends and loved ones depart. Some desert us in favor of someone or something else. Some move geographically. Some become too enmeshed and busy with their own lives or ministries. And some have passed into eternity.

Loneliness may overcome us like a flood because of the memories and associations during holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions.

Whatever the cause of our loneliness, our first reaction should be to turn to our Father for grace to overcome it.

King David prayed in Psalm 25:16-18 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.

When you are lonely, do like King David. Face the reality of your loneliness, confessing it to yourself, to the Father, and to those who will pray for you. Seek God with all your heart by praying and repenting of all sin, doubt, and self-centeredness.

Loneliness can only be overcome through an intimate relationship with Jesus. The One, who created you and gave His life to redeem you, loves and cares for you. You can’t do anything to make Him love you more, and you can’t do anything to make Him love you less. Embrace God’s love for you. Live empowered by His Spirit with the goal to please Him alone, because He has already accepted you. God’s opinion of you is the only one that matters. God created you, and He knows you and loves you. Your life belongs to Him, so allow the Holy Spirit to guide every move you make to fulfill God’s purpose for your life.

In addition, get involved with the Church. Don’t just attend a service once a week. The local church exists in order serve and glorify Christ through encouraging and building up one another. Make phone calls, visit, or share a meal with a fellow Christian during the week.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

There’s never a time in life when we can completely escape loneliness. It will sneak upon us, even in the midst of a crowd, and it can last for a few moments or for a lifetime. All of us, therefore, are responsible for combating both our own loneliness and that of others. This is why regular, meaningful participation in the life of the Church and with one another throughout the week is so important and so emphasized in the New Testament!

Again, God created us in His image for intimate fellowship with Himself and with others. That’s why we need to seek Him with all our heart, love one another, and share our lives with one another. Then we will be fulfilling God’s design for us, and loneliness will depart.

Unfortunately, people try to deal with loneliness in other ways: Withdrawing and getting depressed; Being a workaholic; Being a shopaholic, trying to buy stuff to feel better; Eating stuff to feel better; Having an affair; Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs; Escaping into a fantasy world of internet, books, or TV. Those are all poor substitutes that take us further into loneliness and away from the Lord's will.

Instead of crying out to God, “Oh God, I'm so lonesome I could cry,” start praying, “God give me grace be a friend to someone today.” He will answer that prayer and open your eyes. Amazed, you will say, “Look at all the lonely people, where do they all come from?”

The holidays are approaching. Let’s open our eyes and see all the lonely people. Think of the single person enduring the pain of a broken romance. Think of the divorced person who doesn’t know what to do with his or her time over the holidays. Think of the Christian locked in solitary confinement for his faith. Think of the military person overseas. Think of the widow whose table is still set for two. Think of the parents whose arms ache for a missing child. Think of the person who may be around acquaintances everyday but still has no vital connection. Then do what you can to alleviate someone’s loneliness and it will alleviate your loneliness.

Luke 14:12-14 He [Jesus] said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

It has been said that an individual can live forty days without food, four days without water, four minutes without oxygen, and about four seconds without hope. Give others your attention and point them to the hope and friendship found in Jesus.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Money and things won’t alleviate loneliness, but Jesus will. Jesus stays with us when no one else will. His love penetrates deep into our hearts so that we never feel alone. If you have His presence in your life, share His love, peace, joy, and friendship with others.

The cure of loneliness doesn’t come from having a bunch of Facebook friends, being a socialite, or even from daily personal encounters. Loneliness is not an entertainment issue, it’s a heart issue, and one that can be resolved by drawing close to Jesus and serving others.

If you are feeling lonely, Jesus wants to take your loneliness and give you comfort, joy, peace. He wants to fellowship with you.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Remember, Jesus was speaking to believers in this passage of Scripture. They had become focused on the things of the world and were lukewarm in their relationship with Jesus. Therefore, if you hear His voice today, let Jesus come in and fellowship with you. Your loneliness will be gone.

Maybe you are lonely because you need to begin a relationship with Jesus. If you believe He is the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross, publicly declare your faith in Jesus. When you are ready to die to your old life, we will set up a time for baptism. Then you will have a new life, born of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus will be with you always.