by James Rudy Gray
Elvis Presley used to begin a song with the words: "Are you lonely tonight?" Was he himself lonely? The Psalmist wrote, "Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely..." (Ps. 25:16).
Loneliness is about as common as the common cold in our society. It is estimated that over 10 percent of our population at any given time is lonely. Albert Einstein once said, "It's a strange thing to be so universally known and yet be so lonely." Paul Tournier called loneliness the most devastating malady of his time. One popular Christian counselor observed that loneliness was the most frequent problem he encountered in his practice.
Loneliness is linked to such things as suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, shyness, delinquency, immorality in women, and high-risk behavior in men. This list could be easily expanded.
The loneliest people in our culture are: those with low income, single teenage mothers, alcoholics, college students, high school seniors, divorced people, and the elderly.
William Backus has written, "Loneliness results not from our ugliness but from our misbeliefs. Anxieties control a person's behavior to the point that they refuse to work at forming relationships." Loneliness has been referred to as a painful awareness that we lack meaningful contact with others. One psychologist called it a unique clinical problem.
Too often people choose what they believe is a lesser pain (loneliness) rather than risk what they feel is a potentially greater pain (rejection). Lonely people typically feel unwanted, unworthy, isolated, or even unnecessary. As loneliness grows, frustration increases and desperation sets in, creating a high probability of violent behavior. When healthy beliefs, however, replace dysfunctional thought patterns, we can move away from loneliness. The Bible has many encouraging passages that help us, such as Hebrews 13:5 and Psalm 27:10.
Can we effectively overcome loneliness or cope positively with lonely feelings? We can and as God's children we should. There are at least three simple practices we can utilize that will aid in minimizing loneliness:
1. Have a personal, daily walk with Christ;
2. Maintain ties of love with healthy people; and
3. Develop a wholesome appreciation for yourself based on who you are as God's child.
Loneliness is not a fixed state. It is a condition that can be changed. Most lonely people are not alone. There is hope in Christ and His truth.