Over 60% of Americans struggle with loneliness, reporting “feeling like they are left out, poorly understood, and lacking companionship.”1 Anyone can feel alone at times, but a lasting, pervasive sense of isolation can be deeply painful, and such is the case for many people. Loneliness is a serious issue that has ramifications for one’s physical and mental health. More than that, it points to something at the core of our being. Just as hunger tells us we need food, and fatigue tells us we need sleep, loneliness illustrates our need for meaningful relationships with other people. However independent and self-sufficient we may sometimes seem, we require the companionship of friends, acquaintances, and family in order to flourish.
A God-given Need Only God Can Meet
This need, like the need for food and sleep, is part of God’s design for human life. When God created the first human being, he said that it was not good for him to be alone, so he created the woman who would become his wife (Genesis 2:18–22). The specific example has to do with marriage, but God made us for all kinds of worthwhile relationships, whether that is with our spouses, our siblings, our friends, our co-workers, and more. Whether you are an extrovert who craves interaction with other people, an introvert (like myself) who would much rather read a book quietly than go to a loud party, or somewhere in between, we all need supportive relationships and feel the pain of loneliness when that need goes unmet.
Still, what we need most of all is friendship with God himself. However healthy our social and family life may be, only our creator can provide the unconditional love we crave. Moreover, we have been alienated from God because we have each gone our own way (Isaiah 53:6), instead of loving and obeying him as we should (Deuteronomy 6:5). Yeshua (Jesus) heals that separation by reconciling people to God and to each other. In him, we are offered friendship with the one who knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us more than we could hope for. Adoption is one way the Bible illustrates the fresh start God offers us. Just as some children are raised by parents who are not related to them biologically, God brings the very people who turned against him into his family. Those who trust in Yeshua can truly be called “children of God” (Romans 8:14–16).
Never Truly Alone
When we feel like we don’t fit in, are estranged from family members, or lack the companionship we desire, we can remember that, through Jesus, we can enjoy what we were made for: friendship with God. While we may be lonely, we can be confident that we are never truly alone. In the Bible, God tells his people Israel that he is with them in whatever they face and will never abandon them. Time and again, he reassures them that they are not forsaken (Isaiah 43:2; Deuteronomy 31:8).
Likewise, Jesus promises that he will never leave those who believe in him (Matthew 28:20). When we encounter loneliness, we can ponder God’s promises by reading those verses and talk with God about how we’re feeling. We can be encouraged that feeling lonely, while painful, does not define us. Rather, by putting our trust in Yeshua, we can become children of God, part of a family where we truly belong.
- Elena Renken, “Most Americans Are Lonely, and Our Workplace Culture May Not be Helping,” National Public Radio (January 23, 2020): www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/23/798676465/most-americans-are-lonely-and-our-workplace-culture-may-not-be-helping.