"Loneliness" is a sad word. Even the sound of the word seems to echo the desolation of its meaning. It speaks of the feeling of being alone and longing for friends, but finding that yearning unfulfilled. And it speaks of the unhappiness of that lonely state.
One would think that because loneliness is so hard on the human spirit, and because it is so undesirable, and the fact that very few people actually are without human companionship, that loneliness should be a very rare experience. But that does not seem to be the case.
Probably loneliness has always existed to some degree throughout the history of humankind. It has its roots, after all, in the "fall" of man. This is the time when our first parents, Adam and Eve, severed their spiritual connection with God through their unbelief and disobedience.
As a result God sent them out of the beautiful garden home He had made for them. He placed an angel with a flaming sword to guard the gate, symbolizing the dreadful separation that had taken place in the relationship between God and man.
Without going into detail regarding God's remedy for man's restoration, suffice it to say that through Jesus Christ, we do have the opportunity for fellowship with God restored. That is what the Christian faith is all about. But not all consequences of "the fall" have been removed, and one of these is that good, meaningful, interpersonal relationships require a lot of work. It is possible to have them, and we thank God for that - but we must be willing to put much effort into it.
So, as a result, one of the sad paradoxes existing in our growing population today is the fact that there are many lonely people. Many experience both spiritual and social loneliness. They are spiritually lonely because they have not had their spirits reconciled with God'thus the inner quest for peace, fulfillment, and meaning in life remains unfulfilled.
And they experience social loneliness, because they have not learned how to establish lasting meaningful relationships with other people.
In the next issues we plan to consider some of the specific aspects of loneliness, and some solutions for overcoming them.
- Mervin Brubacher