Only the Lonely

I was sitting in Denver International Airport awhile back, waiting to catch a flight back home when I was struck with a profound sense of irony.  The airport is fairly new, modern and provides all the latest amenities that a traveler could hope to find, save one, a friend.  In the midst of all the commotion of masses of people being herded from place to place, I was overwhelmed by a sense of loneliness.  In spite of all the possible creature comforts available at my beck and call (and VISA), I found myself desiring the one thing that this modern mecca of 21st century travel ease could not provide, human companionship.  Thinking it unwise to ask a stranger to be my friend (no I’m not serious), I sat and wondered how a place designed to anticipate and accommodate human needs could feel so cold and impersonal.  I know its just an airport but still…

“It is not good for man to be alone…” (Gen.2:18a NAS)

If you have heard this quoted, you were probably sitting at a wedding.  That is certainly appropriate considering the occasion, but this statement from the Lord speaks to a broader context than that which is addressed through a marriage covenant, for not all will marry.  The broader context points to a facet of the image of God which is indelibly stamped on human DNA…the need for meaningful relationships.  We as God’s creation, uniquely made in His image, cannot attain our highest potential and joy apart from meaningful human relationships.  Though this fact may seem obvious to most, in contrast, western culture still deifies the virtue of the strong, independent person.  Independence can have positive applications but as the opposite of co-dependence, it can also have a paralyzing effect on human potential.

The Lord Himself, in the Garden of Gethsemane, testifies to His desire to draw strength from His closest friends…

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’  And He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed.  Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.’ …And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘So, you could not keep watch with  Me for one hour?”  (Matthew 26:36-37,40 NAS)

Poet John Donne penned the infamous words, “No man is an island”.  He goes on to say, “Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.”  The comforts and conveniences of modern culture are inadvertently isolating people from one another or “dumbing down” true human intimacy.  It is becoming increasingly easier to live the illusion that we don’t really need one another, but all the noise of the culture cannot drown out the cry of lonely hearts searching for intimacy; to know and to be truly known.

How does one counter the deception and satisfy the thirst for intimacy?

  • Recognize that we were first and foremost made for fellowship with our Creator.  No human relationship can satisfy our innate need for intimacy with the One who created us.  God wants you to pour your heart out to Him.  He is always listening and desires to communicate with you every day.  No religious talk…be real…He knows your heart anyway.
  • Recognize that loneliness is normal emotional response to a lack of meaningful relationships.  Some people think there is something wrong with them if they feel lonely.  Au contraire.  You are made in God’s image and you NEED people (see Genesis 2:18a)
  • Reach out to people.  Sometimes YOU have to take the initiative to connect with people.  If you don’t have relationships, find someone who needs companionship and serve them.  It may not be exactly what you are looking for, but it is a start that God will honor.
  • Understand that you are not alone in how you feel.  There are many examples in scripture of great saints who endured loneliness.  God can and will use those seasons of relative loneliness to shape and mold into His image.  Use those times to grow closer to the Lord.
  • Recognize the greatest promises the Lord could give you…

“I am with you always.” (Mt.28:20b)

“I will never desert you nor will I ever forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b)