Chronic loneliness is one of the consequences of the Fall that day in the Garden of Eden—but God can use it to help us stick to Him like glue. We were meant for deep, endless relating in all directions, such as we shall have in the coming age. It all went to ribbons at the Fall. Hence the deep, gnawing, yearnings for a more and better experience of love between humans.
This is so clearly seen by anyone who spends time visiting inside a senior housing residence. One lady is dying of cancer, alone, on her couch. She cracks her door open in her terribly hot apartment (because she has no money to buy an air conditioner) and languishes on her couch. Another elderly woman moves here with no one in the city to help her and no relatives arrive--so she lands with all of her boxes stacked high still months and months after her move, paralyzed to know where to begin sorting them and making a home for herself. Another retires, comes here, and because all of her friendships were made at work and were developed only in the workplace, now finds herself with frequent panic attacks over being desperately lonely.
Even some who seem well-adjusted can be grappling with this loss of connection. The godly Swiss psychiatrist Paul Tournier wrote, "The one who seems most sociable is the one who is taking refuge in the ceaseless social round as an escape from intolerable inner loneliness." The world is full of souls who experience agonizing loneliness.
There is something we can do about this. John Piper, in his book on male and femaleness, noted the importance of women as agents of God here, regardless of their marital state. He wrote, "With half the world's population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in even those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world.”
In the process, we swallow any of our own loneliness needs in preference for the long term psychological well-being of the other—preferring their "making it" in life to our own success. Such deep valleys must necessarily lead to enriched eternities for His deepest of saints, else the Lord never would have allowed them to exist for those He loves so well, and who love Him unreservedly. So, the key to all relationships is for us to love the other person lavishly, with no expectations for a reward--finding our own solace in God alone.
PS: Every year at this time, approaching the holidays, the Enemy seems to work overtime to inject stabs of exaggerated loneliness into these days at unexpected times--like flaming darts out of nowhere. Here are the saints’ marvelous firm and stable counter thoughts from the throne above. This is the real state of affairs:
- "...your love is ever before me." Psalm 26:3
(breathtakingly tender and beautiful--ours continually for the taking--located right at the end of our reach at any and every moment needed.)
- "You bless your inheritance ...You shepherd them and carry them forever." Psalm 28:9
(Carried forever. That's a long time, and a sure ride.)
We live in a context of steady, unimagined love. Contrary to Santa Claus, whom we "see" today but vanishes on January first, a broken reed, we don't see Christ today but we will see Him tomorrow and, indeed, forever.
The Lord is God. Triumphant. Comforting. Our all in all.
Yours in the trenches,
PS: For more on this topic, read our new 12-page eBook, The Way out of Loneliness.