Tuesday, September 7, 2010

OVERCOMING LONELINESS, part III

The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'1

There are many and varied reasons why people feel lonely. We have already discussed some of these. We talked about Sharon who was afraid to love because of her fear of losing love, the roots of which went back to her childhood when her father left home when she was only five years of age.

On the other hand, John came from a happy home but his parents moved every year for business reasons. Every time John made close friends, the family moved and he would lose his friends. As he grew older, he no longer wanted to make close friends because it was too painful to lose them. This left him lonely.

Both Sharon and John were able to overcome their loneliness when they realized its cause—which is the first step in resolving all problems. Once they recognized their fear they were able, little by little, to reach out to others and, in time, overcome their loneliness.

If I'm having trouble with loneliness, I, too, need to ask myself what the real cause is. Is it a communication problem, feelings of inadequacy, fear of being hurt, or another cause? If so, I may need the help of a trained counselor or an understanding pastor or friend to help me work through my struggle.

Service to others is another way to overcome loneliness. I think of my grandmother who lived to age 90. She had been a widow for many years but didn't suffer from loneliness. She reached out to help others by regularly visiting the sick and the elderly. In helping to meet their needs she met many of her own.

People simply cannot live without human contact. As Dr. Lynch reminds us, "If we fail to form loving human relationships, our mental and physical health is in peril."2 This is why it is vital to be committed to family and friends and to make the effort to strengthen these ties.

Besides one's family, there is no better place to find love and a sense of belonging than in a church where unconditional love, acceptance, and friendship are expressed in open, positive, and practical ways.

Here, too, one can find God—the only one who can satisfy our innate sense of spiritual loneliness. "To live apart from him," says Wright "is the most pathetic loneliness of all."

If you respond to God's love through his Son, Jesus Christ, he has promised to "never, not ever, not ever leave you or forsake you."3 No matter how you feel, Christ will always be with you.

Visualize Jesus right there with you now—wherever you are. Respond to his call to follow him. Commit and trust your life to him every day. Ask him to give you the faith to believe in him and the courage to do your part in overcoming your loneliness. As you do your part, God will help you. He has promised he will.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, when I am lonely, help me to find at least one soul brother/sister with whom I can share my total being without any fear of being judged or condemned but feel fully accepted and loved. And help me to be such a friend to another fellow struggler. Above all, help me to know and feel your presence knowing that you are always with me and will never leave me or forsake me. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Genesis 2:18 (NIV).
2. Time, Sept. 5, 1977.
3. See Hebrews 13:5.

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1 comment:

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