In the September 9, 2018 issue of Parade magazine Dr. Frank Oz stated, “After looking at the data, I’m convinced…we have an epidemic of loneliness.” That word epidemic is a strong-serious word which can also be applied to our world’s depression and suicide rates. Why are more people lonely today as compared to yesterday? Aren’t we the most connected human beings in history due to our phones, social media and the like? Maybe that is part of the reason for the disconnect.
The bigger questions are…What causes loneliness? What are the culprits? Some folks are not alone, but “feel” lonely. They don’t feel like the people that surround them in their day-to-day lives really “see” them. Hence, the loneliness. It can of-course also be caused by major life changes like the death of a loved one or a dysfunctional relationship which keeps adding layer after layer of hurtful words, dishonesty and brokenness. Christians can experience loneliness in their relationship with God when they refuse to let go of a sin-pattern which creates a barrier or a separation-like feeling from a God who is holy 24/7.
I bet the he-man Samson who Chuck Swindoll stated also had a “she-weakness”, experienced that separation or distance. According to the detailed and graphic story in Judges chapters 14-16, he refused to let go of lust leading to repeated tyrsts with Philistine women like a prostitute and the better-known Delilah. Because Samson killed over 1,000 Philistines, he was ultimately captured. The Philistines then literally gouged his eyes out and made him work in a prison. They further humiliated him, by forcing him to entertain them, like some character in a circus freak show. Did his loneliness result in asking God for one final thing before he died? Listen to his short yet gut-felt prayer, “Sovereign Lord, remember me…”
When I feel forgotten, I repeat what God says (about me)…back to Him. “God you know the numbers of the hairs on my head.” (Matthew 10:30). “God, you have engraved me on the palms of your hands.” (Isaiah 49:16). “God you have adopted me.” (Ephesians 1:5) “God you have sealed me with the Holy Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 1:22). “God my tears are not wasted as you put them in your bottle.” (Psalm 56:8)
In the here and now, what else can you and I do when a wave of loneliness washes over us and it seems like we are drowning? From Through the Wilderness of Loneliness, Tim Hansel suggests: “One of the best things we can do amidst difficult feelings is strenuous exercise. Stretch your body. Stretch your emotions. Stretch your spirit. Stretch your mind. The greatest releasers of emotions are prayer and exercise. They are God’s design to help us let go of frustration.”
I personally know that prayer and exercise works. “Both” are needed. I have put them on and they fit and equip me to face my world. Will you try them on now?
pictures courtesy of “Nelson & his Nikon”