“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
LONELINESS and isolation are no joke. Loneliness actually increases the risk of premature mortality among all ages. One recent study indicates that social isolation and loneliness lead to more people dying than obesity. Isolation has been linked to a number of dysfunctional immune responses and high blood pressure that have an impact on our overall well-being. In fact, researchers have found that people who are lonely produce more inflammation-related proteins in response to stress than people who are more social. The reactions of these inflammation-related proteins can be associated with numerous disease states such as coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
On the emotional side, every human being needs meaningful relationships within which they can develop identity and each one can flourish in life. The absence of these relationships can often lead to suicide. We need to take loneliness very seriously if someone takes their own life every 40 seconds.
Jesus Understands Loneliness
Jesus understands rejection. “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” (Isa. 53:3). How alone Jesus had to feel to live without sin in this world? (Heb. 4:15). One can imagine this: For someone who lived righteously, it must have been torture to live among the unrighteous and to witness and hear so many of their atrocities day by day (2 Pet. 2:8).
Although He grew up in a small town of less than 300 people among farm people, Jesus does not choose any of His family to be one of His disciples. “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” (Matt. 13: 55-56). The verse beautifully describes Jesus’ childhood – they were a normal family. What is strange is why His sisters were never mentioned by name, as one of His followers? James and Judas would later become prominent leaders in the church, but what about the others? The reality is: a prophet is not recognized among his own people (Mark 6:4).
Jesus must have often felt “out”. The story probably come out that He was the illegitimate child of Joseph and Mary. His upbringing in Egypt during the first five to seven years of His life must also have labeled Him as the “inkomer” or stranger. His own brothers and family did not believe in Him. “For even his brothers did not believe in him.” (John 7:5). Jesus had no one with whom He could really identify, to understand Him. Think of the struggle of gifted smart kids, who struggle to fit in. Children who excel are often bullied by others who perform poorly!
A Story of Friendship: Lazarus
At this time of Jesus’ ministry, it was dangerous for Him to be in Jerusalem. He was almost stoned a few days earlier and the Jews wanted to arrest him (John 11: 8; 10:31, 39). The family knew this, so they informed Him with the words, “The one you love is very sick.” Their words show their respect and faith in Jesus, as well as their boldness towards Him – He is their friend. They had often helped Him and He would help them too.
But as usual, the disciples were more focused on themselves than on the Lord. They did not understand Jesus’ words and they came to the wrong conclusions. Jesus had to explain straight away what He meant when He first said Lazarus was just “sleeping” because they did not understand. Thomas’ words, that they are going to die with Lazarus, indicate his usual pessimism. Thomas the doubter is worried about his own life (John 14: 5; 20: 24-29).
So Jesus knew Lazarus was dead, yet He did not go there immediately. God wants to use seemingly delayed circumstances for His glory. Jesus then said that He is glad that He did not go immediately, because the Father was going to glorify the Son. Friendship is a lever, an invisible bond that compels you to help. People will do things based on friendship that they do not really want to do. Friendship is an emotional relationship and Jesus offered His friendship and love, but He did not allow Himself to be bound by it. That Jesus did not come immediately was surely but a bitter pill for Martha and Mary to swallow since Jesus’ actions run counter to the way most people understand friendship. Jesus did not let them know that He is not going to respond when they want Him to. One might think of it as poor communication. He is therefore not focused on human needs, but on the will of the Father. This is since He has non-human “food” available to fill Him (John 4:32, 34; cf. Matt. 4:4).
Jesus was the Son of God and did not need anyone’s help, not even friends. Yet He chooses friends; He is the messenger who chooses friends. That is the essence of the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make friends of all nations.” So we do not choose our friends on the basis of what we all agree on or because we like the same things. We also do not choose friends because they did something for us. It’s easy to give love once I’ve received it. Jesus sends us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44-48); to make friends with people who do not mean anything to us or give us nothing.
“If you were here, Lazarus would have lived.” They lightly reproach Jesus’ absence (John 11:21, 32). Even the mourners and spectators reproach Him (John 11:37). “Could not he that opened the eyes of the blind man have caused that this man should not have died?”
Faith Instead of Offence
But Martha and Mary do not take offense. Both Mary and Martha express their faith: “I believe …” (John 11: 7):
• Mary acknowledges Jesus as the chosen Anointed One (Messiah: Christ – cf. John 1:20, 41).
• He is the Son of God (cf. John 1:34, 39; 10:36),
• The Prophet sent into the world (cf. John 3:31) to make God known to the people. It is an important testimony of Christ.
Offense: destroys the flow and connection, between people.
Do not be offended the Lord because you think He is too late (Isa. 55:8-9).
However, Jesus’ tears point to His pain in this relationship (John 11:38). He has told them on more than one occasion that He is going to die. Here at the death of His friend Lazarus, Jesus is also referring to His own death. He had to think of these people’s burden of sin that He would soon have to bear, but they were not seeing it.
“Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.” (John 11:38).
- The Greek word “groaning”, embrimaomai (em-brim-ah-om-ahee);
- Strong’s # 1690: Derived from en, “in”, and brime, “strength”.
- The word is used to express anger (Mar. 14: 5), to indicate a speaking or acting with deep feeling (John 11:33, 38), and for stern admonishment (Matt. 9:30; Mar. 1:43 ); to roar, storm with anger; to be enraged, indignant, to express indignation against someone.
Since Christ could hardly have felt anger towards Mary and the mourning friends, it is probable that His deep emotion was due to He inwardly protesting the indifference, ignorance, blindness, thoughtlessness of the people. Furthermore, He also realizing His own future death… that He was wrongfully crucified.
Jesus Friends Did not “See” Him
The greatest sadness in any friendship is when your friend(s) do not “see” you: your partner does not see your heart, does not see your suffering or heaviness. It is the one single sin / transgression that can send any relationship down the road and eventually destroy it. Jesus’ love is greater than our transgressions. He still gives His life and forgives us.
Finally, Lazarus is alive again, without ceremony and great display (John 11:44). Jesus simply speaks a word and Lazarus comes alive. Jesus does not even stay for dinner! Once again, Jesus breaks the rules of earthly friendships. Then Jesus instructs Lazarus to be released so that he can go home.
The people to whom He gave His life did not receive Him. However, there was one woman who “saw” Him – Mary who came to anoint His feet with expensive perfume (John 12: 1-8; cf. Matt. 26: 6; Mark 14: 3). She must have seen Jesus’ eyes during Lazarus’ resurrection. She looked deeper and understood that Jesus would soon give His life for mankind. No one else saw or understood Jesus’ pre-suffering; He had to carry His burden alone. By faith we receive this gift of Jesus’ righteousness; this special relationship with the Father.
But Jesus’ loneliness reached its peak the moment He became sin for us: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21). He was “forsaken” on the cross by His Father: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46).
God’s Salvation Plan for Loneliness
With the cross He carried, He also carried the rejection and loneliness of our sin that removes us from God. This was so that He may live within us and so we may now boldly approach His throne of grace. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are,yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4: 15-16).
Jesus’ loneliness was not born of self-pity, bitterness and disgust in mankind. Even though Jesus was a social person, He also realized the value of being alone: “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.” (Matt. 14:23). “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35). So He was never lonely, because He was always one with the Father.
For Him, loneliness was not bad. “Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. But those who seek my life, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.” (Ps. 63: 7-9).
Solitude: being alone, being set aside:
• Health – physical harmony
• Happiness – moral harmony
• Holiness – spiritual harmony
What You Need To Know About Loneliness
Most of us feel lonely sometimes: This includes people who seem to be popular. Why? Because it is often not how many friends you have, but the quality of the friendships that determines whether you feel lonely or not. Someone who seems to be popular may be surrounded by people all the time, but has no true friends and therefore feels lonely.
“To love and to be loved in return” – the most basic need in man. To know someone and to be known. “Do you really see me?” Is a deep-seated question that we all carry in our hearts around the quality of relationships. This issue is beautifully portrayed in the film about Freddie Mercury’s life, and the mistakes he made regarding his most intimate friends:
From Bohemian Rhapsody:
Jim Hutton: So, all your friends have left you alone.
Freddie Mercury: They’re not my friends. Not really. Just distraction.
Jim Hutton: From what?
Freddie Mercury: The in-between moments, I suppose. I find them intolerable. All of the darkness you thought you left behind comes creeping back in.
Loneliness can be dangerous to your health: Researchers who analyzed the results of 148 studies have concluded that little social interaction can lead to early death. As a risk factor, it is, “like smoking 15 cigarettes a day” and is, “twice as harmful as obesity”.
Loneliness can make you vulnerable: In fact, it can cause you to accept anyone as a friend. If you are lonely, you may be desperate for attention. You may start to think that any attention is better than no attention at all. And this can lead to problems. Technology and social media are not always the answer to loneliness. One can send or receive numerous text messages and emails to hundreds of people every day and still feel terribly lonely. Texting, Whatsapp and Facebook are like a snack, but talking to someone face to face is like a meal. You simply cannot live on snacks.
What You Can Do When Feeling Lonely
- Do not think the worst:
For example: Suppose you see on a website photos of your friends at a party to which you were not invited. At that moment you have a choice – you may think that they have deliberately excluded you or you can maintain a positive view. Since you do not have all the facts, do not think the worst. Instead, divert your thinking to good things in life, such as the fact that they did not invite you. It is often not the situation but your view that makes you feel lonely. “It always goes badly with a depressed person; the cheerful person’s whole life is a feast.” (Prov. 15:15).
Choose to keep even your speculations positive, such as when you do not know where your partner is and why he or she is late. You choose to see Jesus in them. The ability to trust Jesus in one another is a wonderful way of surrendering and trusting by faith. We no longer manipulate situations. We know we cannot change hearts. We trust the Holy Spirit who convinces and brings about repentance (2 Cor. 7:9). We no longer create in our imaginations worries about the worst that is going to happen – we see solutions, breakthroughs and provision, even in the slightest.
2. Avoid Generalisations:
When you are lonely, you may think, “I’m never invited to anything!” or, “People always avoid me!” But these generalizations will only sink you deeper into the quicksand of loneliness.
Such thinking can cause a vicious cycle:
• You feel excluded and therefore you isolate yourself. It makes you feel lonely, which in turn leads to you feeling excluded. “The selfish man lives only for himself.” (Prov. 18: 1).
• Rather believe the best of others. You keep trusting even when you hear bad news. You see the glass is full. You expect the best. “It’s all going to work out in the end” is usually your first reaction but not in a frivolous, or head-in-the-ground, or truth-misguided way. It is a quiet trust in the Lord that He will cause all things to work together for good (Rom. 8:28).
• You have seen it so many times that there is a fixed knowledge in your mind. There is a positive in every negative (Ps. 66:12). Someone with innovative thinking only sees it sooner.
3. Also Choose Older Friends:
David was probably a teenager when he met Jonathan – a man who was thity-years older than him. Despite their age difference, David and Jonathan became close friends (1 Sam. 18:1). You can also make such friendships. Appreciate older friends’ mature view of things and their stability. “Wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days, understanding.“ (Job 12:12).
Some other Biblical characters who had best friends with a great age difference between them was Ruth and Naomi, Timothy and Paul (Ruth 1:16, 17; 1 Sam. 18: 1; 1 Cor 4:17).
Also remember that a conversation comes from two sides – you do not have to do all the work. People appreciate good listeners so if you tend to be shy, remember: you do not have to talk all the time! 
4. Get Comfortable With Your Own Company
Some people feel lonely as soon as they are alone for a moment. But you do not have to feel lonely when you are alone. As mentioned before, Jesus was a social person, but He also realized the value of being alone by being in prayer with His Father. The same can apply to you. Do not consider it a disadvantage when you are alone, but rather use this time to reflect with appreciation on your blessings. Then others will want to make even more with your friends. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” (Prov. 13:20).
Someone who has developed a friendship with Jesus is comfortable with being alone:
- You no longer see yourself as separate.
- You see yourself in the greater whole of the body of Christ. That is why you first think of “us” and no longer “I”.
- You are aware of your own voice, but also of those around you.
- You harmonize and live in rhythm with the people God has placed around you.
- You are not dependent on people, but choose to need them and keep them involved in your life.
- You live in the now, and every relationship and contact is important to connect and grow deeper.
5. Concentrate on Your Strengths:
“Even though we may not be trained in the art of public speaking – in terms of knowledge, we are by no means behind! When we were with you, it became clear to us on every occasion. ” (2 Cor. 11: 6). While it is good to be aware of your shortcomings, you also have a lot to offer. Recognizing your strengths will give you the confidence you need to overcome negative self-esteem and loneliness.
Ask yourself, “What are my strengths?” Think of some talents or positive qualities you have. You love yourself despite your shortcomings. You no longer measure and compare yourself with others. You know who you are and that’s enough. You know what your calling is and you have mercy on your weaknesses. You are aware that the Lord is still changing you and you are growing in boldness to be yourself. You are comfortable with yourself and have accepted yourself. You have routines in place to reinforce your weaknesses and you take responsibility for yourself.
6. Show Genuine Interest in Others:
Start by showing interest in just a few people. It helps to get to know others better if you just ask them how they are doing or if you ask them about their work. Ask someone, “Tell me your story.” You will be amazed at how much people like to share their pain and hurt when someone just wants to listen. By asking questions, I can learn first hand how to do something, or how a certain profession works. Learn to ask questions – it’s the first step to new discoveries.
a. Cultivate “compassion”: “One last word on this: Be of one mind, sympathize, love one another, be kind and humble.” (1 Pet. 3:8). Even if you do not agree with someone else’s view, you should patiently allow him to speak. Concentrate on the points on which you do agree. If you feel you have to say that you do not agree with something, then say it in a gentle and tactful way. Feel someone’s hurt or pain and do something actual. By serving, helping and supporting people, I quickly forget about my own loneliness.
b. Talk to others the way you want them to talk to you: When you argue with people unnecessarily, tease, insult them or condemn them with a self-righteous attitude, you just push them away from you. They will love you much more if you make sure that your “words are always pleasant”. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Col. 4:6).
c. Look for meaningful conversations or forums: Home church, Bible school, study groups and book clubs are great places for deeper dialogue and meaningful conversations.
d. Get out of the house: The outdoors and contact with nature is a natural stimulant that your earth. This connection with our current “now” world is essential for feeling good. Even just walking barefoot connects you to our earthiness. You feel the hot sand under your toes, you become aware of the now.
e. Kindness – smile: We are the only mammals who show by our teeth that we are kind. By smiling seven times a day, you can already make yourself feel more healthy. It has been found that depression sufferers can benefit directly from this. Do not underestimate the power of a smile – it is more contagious than measles. The wonder is, there are no side effects.
Singleness Versus Loneliness
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13: 4-7).
Staying together does not mean we “connect” automatically! That’s why you have to make an effort!
Your partner may feel that way too!
Alone = separate; isolated
Lonely = without company
- Everyone feels alone sometimes.
- Most likely your partner too.
- You may only communicate about children / duties.
- Remember again: Why do I love you?
- Be content with yourself – happy; full.
- We can not get full from the outside.
- If you have become estranged from each other, walk the path back to love through communication.
- Why was the bond between you broken?
Sometimes, when one is constantly complaining or giving instructions, one withdraws!
Men do not want to know everything you feel or experience, that’s why wives should have girlfriends.
How Do I Embrace Being Alone?
Everyone is alone at some point in your life! One can even be in company, and be alone! You need to know if you are drawing your strength / energy from people or alone! Know yourself!
Be content with yourself (happy, peace with God, your Creator, peace with yourself and fellow human beings)!
Do things you love when you are alone: write, read, walk, ride a bike! Time for thinking, meditating, creating order in your world of thought as well as your physical / admin world!
Make time for being alone… you need to be at home in your own company! Plan alone… it does you good… recharge batteries.
Sometimes, when people go through trauma, they can not be alone, and that is understandable but temporary!
Ek’s vanaand alleen
En ai my hart wil alweer ween
Ek dink aan die liefde, en ook die seën
Ek soek soms antwoorde, maar daar is geen
Selfs al is my hart genees
Voel ek vanaand so broos, so wees
Ek is so dankbaar vir die Heilige Gees
Hy is so werklik en verslaan die vrees
Hy kom in wysheid en waarheid om te genees
Ek weet dit is waar, ek het dit gelees
Nou kan ek rus, yes, net wees …
Dankie Helper, Heilige Gees
– Chantál Oosthuizen
Loneliness in Marriage – The Causes:
1. Your partner’s personal ambition can lead to you feeling excluded, mostly second, and there simply is no more time for each other.
2. Your personal needs and core values are no longer satisfied by your partner and make you feel alone in your struggle.
3. You and your partner no longer “connect” emotionally and it makes you feel lonely.
4. You are not heard or understood. The fact that it is clear to you in communication that your partner does not understand or hear you can lead to a deep feeling of inadequacy and loneliness.
5. The physical fact that you are very lonely because of your partner’s work can indeed make you feel very lonely.
6. You and your partner are not in the same church and do not share the same spiritual values, and this can make you feel very alone.
7. You and your partner share very few interests and so you even start spending your relaxation time separately.
8. You and your partner differ a lot because your values and educational background differ dramatically and this can lead to one feeling alone and mostly withdrawing to avoid arguments.
9. You have not had regular sex for a long time and even when you have, it is superficial and just a sex act.
10. You and your partner’s friends differ. You are not comfortable with your partner’s friends or girlfriends, therefore you feel excluded in their company. The fact that you know your partner is discussing you with them exacerbates the removal. You can also have the same feeling when you feel that your partner puts his or her family above you and is more loyal to them than to you.
11. Your partner’s driven self-justifying personality excludes you and you feel that your word never counts because your opinion or advice is never asked. Strong personalities tend to exclude others in their decision-making process and this can make the weaker party feel excluded, or not part of the team.
12. When your partner is overly concerned about the children and always puts their interests first at the expense of the marriage, one party may feel that they are no longer involved, or that they are just there to provide money. Again, different styles of education and the quarrels over it can lead to one party withdrawing sooner.
13. There is nothing that makes you feel more alone than when you feel wronged or hurt, or feel offended about certain things that came out during an argument and then make you mistakenly believe that your partner no longer loves you. You then constantly look for evidence in his or her behavior to support your motion and the relationship dynamics become negative.
14. Persistent criticism and correction, or unhappiness expressed, can also lead to deep feelings of loneliness, because you feel that nothing you do is enough or acceptable. Acceptance is the building block of a healthy relationship.
15. When someone does not feel loved, it automatically leads to a feeling of loneliness.
16. When one party moralizes everything and tends to preach and speak out for the other in communication, it can lead to a feeling of inadequacy and loneliness.
17. Feelings of loneliness usually occur most among couples who have not successfully grown through the power struggle phase to a deeper acceptance of each other’s differences. The result is that the parties then start living separate lives at all levels to try to avoid conflict and later have very little in common, or even know little about each other. The problem is that loneliness is now being addressed outside of marriage.
18. When one party does not want to burden the other with financial or stressful issues, it can lead to loneliness on both sides. The high stress levels and depression at one party also contribute to greater removal.
19. Allienation of the mind. Because of conflict, quarrel, or your partner’s apparent dissatisfaction with you, you begin to withdraw into your mind and remove yourself. You are no longer physically going to meetings, parties or meals with your partner. You begin to withdraw physically, emotionally and mentally. Divorce has already begun at this time and loneliness is inevitable.
20. You no longer laugh together and have no more fun. You no longer do sociable things together.