Several years ago a popular and beautiful young Hollywood star, with apparently everything a young woman would want, ended her life. She left a brief note explaining why. She stated that she was unbearably lonely.
Webster dictionary defines "alone" as, "apart from anything or anyone else; without any other person," and "lonely" as "solitary or isolated."
Philip Zimbardo, writing in Psychology Today, said, "There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and of us from them." He then pointed to studies that show loneliness as one of the leading causes of depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, rape, suicide, mass murder, shorter life spans, and a wide variety of diseases.
Seven Causes for Loneliness
There are several causes for loneliness. Here are a few:
- DEATH. After the death of her husband, Queen Victoria of England said, "There is no one left to call me Victoria." Even though she was a queen, she knew what it was to be lonely.
- DIVORCE. As a pastor, I have had those who have experienced divorce express that they felt like "a leper," or "fifth wheel."
- FAMILY PROBLEMS. King David wrote Psalm 31 during the time of his struggles and heartbreak over his son Absalom. In verse 12, he lamented, "I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery" (NIV).
- INSENSITIVITY. We have become too busy to listen to, and sense the hurts and loneliness of others. Ninety-two percent of the Christians attending a Bible conference admitted in a survey that feelings of loneliness are a major problem in their lives. Psychologist Eric Fromm once wrote, "The deep need of man is the need to overcome separateness, to leave the prison of his loneliness." Here are some suggestions for a cure for loneliness:
- FELLOWSHIP. 1 John 1:7 tells us we are to have "fellowship with one another." The word "fellowship"used here means, "having something in common with another, entering into another's life, and, if needed, assisting the person."
- CARING. 1 Corinthians 12:25 admonishes us to "care for one another." A phone call, email, invitation, or a gentle word are all acts of caring.
- COMFORT. In Colossians 4:11, Paul, during a lonely and struggling time in his life, spoke of those who "have been a comfort to me." This word "comfort" is where we get our word "paregoric," a remedy that stops pain.
Philip Yancey tells a story about Beethoven: "Because of his deafness, he found conversation difficult and humiliating. When he heard of the death of a friend's son, Beethoven hurried to the house, overcome with grief. He had no words of comfort to offer. But he saw a piano in the room. For the next half hour he played the piano, pouring out his emotions in the most eloquent way he could. When he finished playing, he left. The friend later remarked that no one else's visit had meant so much."
"You may forget with whom you laughed,
But you will never forget with whom you wept."
Dave Arnold, Pastor
Gulf Coast Worship Center
New Port Richey, Florida