Recently I was with a group of people and I asked them this question, “What is your greatest fear?” People sat silent for a while, and then a married mom of four children replied, “I am afraid of being alone.” Many in the group agreed. As a society, we are more connected today than ever before, yet research shows that most people today feel alone.
Why is this? We were created for community. God, in His Sovereignty, created us to be in relationship with one another. Our God is a communal God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We were created in His image, and therefore we need Him as well as other people. Yet, with the busyness of our lives, we have little time for either.
In his recent article in the New York Times, Frank Bruni writes, “Across the country, college freshmen are settling into their new lives and grappling with something that doesn’t compete with protests and political correctness for the media’s attention, something that no one prepared them for, something that has nothing to do with being ‘snowflakes’ and everything to do with being human. They’re lonely.” – Frank Bruni, New York Times, September 2, 2017
Frank, in his article, continues “(people) too easily substitute virtual interactions for physical ones, withdrawing from their immediate circumstances and winding up lonely as a result.” We can have a lot of “friends” on Facebook, “followers” on Twitter, “connections” on LinkedIn and “likes” on Instagram, but still feel all alone. It’s a pandemic. And, with the speed of our society, it is a problem that will only increase.
We know from studies as well as intuitively our need for others. Feeling alone leads to isolation and depression. Being around others makes us better, revives our soul and gives us greater meaning in life. Mother Teresa writes, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” The Bible says it this way, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. This is how we were created and what we all desire!
So, how do we fight against loneliness?
- Become a friend of God
Abraham was called “a friend of God.” James 2:23. How awesome is that! Abraham focused on the importance of his relationship with God first. Then, as Abraham was obedient, God blessed him. Abraham was wealthy with material possessions and people. Press in deeper in your relationship with God. As you do, you will find the loneliness will dissipate and your confidence will grow. Don’t try to fix everyone around you first; allow God to be your center and your foundation. Find your worth and value in Him. Then, regardless of your circumstances, you will never feel alone. How much time do you really spend with God? Are you growing in your relationship with Him?
- Pray for friends
Most of the time we are praying for money or for God to get us out of some jam, but how often do we pray for friends? How often do we pray for God to surround us with people who will encourage us and make us better? You will become like the company you keep. So, are the people around you leading you closer to God or further away? It is so important to surround yourself with godly friends. If you don’t have good friends, then ask God to bring some into your life. If you do have good friends, then thank God for them today.
- Take the initiative
Too often people sit back and wait for others to come to them. People complain they don’t have any “real” friends instead of doing something about it. The people who have friends are ones who take the initiative. It can be scary to go to church, join a Women’s or Men’s Group, take the family to a Community Group or more. The opportunities are all around us, but we have to step out in faith and take the initiative. Too often we are passive in this area or we let our pride get in the way, but we need others in our lives and this is too important to just sit back. Step out.
- To have a friend you must be a friend
Too often people say, “Well, I just couldn’t get involved.” Or, “Nobody reached out to me.” Well, the problem is not them, it is us. After we take the initiative and meet people, then we need to be the kind of friend that we would like to have. It is easy to talk about being in relationship, but it is another thing to live it out. The Bible says, “A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17. Recently, I was with a group of friends from college. We have been friends for 30 years! We have walked together through good times and adversity – from marriages and the birth of children to the death of parents and even divorce. Yet, we have made a commitment to one another. Friendship requires initiative and commitment.
- Take time to thank your friends
Friends are a gift from God. My wife is my best friend. Have you told your spouse “thank you” lately? Do schedule “date nights” and spend time together like you did early in your relationship? As my children are growing up, I am seeing the transition from just parent to friend. Keeping the priority on the relationship and not on simply being an “Uber” driver is essential. You spell love “t-i-m-e.” From high school, college to today, God has surrounded us with people. Life can get busy, but have you stopped to tell your true friends thank you? Have you stopped to recognize those who have been with you through the ups and downs of life? Write them a card, send a text, reach out in some way and express your gratitude. They have helped shape you, and they are such a blessing in your life. Let them know that today.
The truth is, you are never alone. I love Isaiah 43, “But now, this is what the Lord says – He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel. ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’” God is with you and He is for you. Take time to thank Him today.
You never have to be afraid of being alone – God is always with you. Through Christ, you are a friend of God. Thank Him, and now live in that truth.