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Loneliness is an unhappy state of being that can result from being alone extensively or away from people who are missed deeply. A person can be lonely even when other people are present but desired affections and attention towards them are absent. Unchecked loneliness can lead to depression and despair.
Loneliness is much different from just being alone. A busy mother could almost be willing to donate a kidney to have alone-time or “me-time.” Being alone can be a very good thing when it is by choice. Being alone, however, is not a good thing when it is a consequence of our sinful behavior or is thrusted upon us by circumstances beyond our control.
In this writing, I am calling loneliness due to consequences “Loneliness by Fault,” and I am calling loneliness due to circumstances beyond our control, “Loneliness by No-Fault.” Sounds like car insurance, doesn’t it? We will glean some insights about both types of loneliness from the writings of Jeremiah.
Loneliness by Fault
In Lamentations 1:1, the ruined city of Jerusalem is described as lonely. “How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow is she who was great among the nations! The princess among the provinces has become a slave!” Judah, under the leadership of some really bad kings, had been worshiping idols among many other sins. King Josiah made some reforms but he could not turn their hearts to God. God used Jeremiah to announce His anger and impending severe judgement. Four kings later, Judah found itself invaded and enslaved in Babylonian captivity. I can only imagine the deep loss and loneliness the people must have experienced from deaths and deportations.
Unfortunately, we, too, as Christians do things that result in loneliness. Maybe we had a great job and a respected status, but we lost it all because of not working by the rules. Now we have to live with shame, loss of comradery, loss of income, loss of home, or even loss of family. Or it could be as simple as we just didn’t control our tongue enough and our friends don’t call or visit anymore.
Loneliness by No-Fault
Jeremiah’s state of “aloneness” was God-directed and was no fault of his own. Let’s take a look.
In Jeremiah 1:4-19, the Lord tells Jeremiah that before he was even formed in the womb, He set him apart and appointed him to be a prophet to His people. Jeremiah initially objects, claiming his youth, but the Lord quickly silences that. The Lord tells Jeremiah that He put His words in his mouth and set him over the nations and kingdoms “to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”
Furthermore, God tells Jeremiah that the people will fight against him, but he will still have to speak to them all that the Lord gave him to say. He was rejected, despised, and persecuted for delivering God’s message of doom and call to repentance. Jeremiah delivered God’s messages more than forty years. Judah still would not repent. This grieved Jeremiah greatly. In Jeremiah 16:1-4, we see more of God- ordained “aloneness” for Jeremiah when He tells him not to get married or have children.
Loneliness by no-fault of our own can be experienced by those of us in various ministries and by those of us who regularly share the gospel in our growing God-defiant society. Loneliness can result from rejection for standing for righteousness. When people — including Christians — reject the Word of God, the messenger may be rejected or even persecuted as Jeremiah was. We must, however, continue to be faithful to our calling to serve the Lord and rely upon Him for strength to endure.
There is Hope in the Lord for the Lonely
No matter the circumstances that resulted in loneliness, we can find hope in the Lord.
Rehearse in our minds about the goodness of the Lord.
Jeremiah’s soul had sunk within him but he says,
“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: Great is Your Faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’ ” (Lamentations 3:21).
As with Jeremiah, let God’s Word be the joy and rejoicing of our hearts (Jeremiah 15:16).
Meditate on things that are noble, just, pure, lovely, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8-13).
Surround ourselves with the God ordained support group- the Church (Hebrews 10:25).
Continue to worship and serve through our period of loneliness (Psalm 100:1-5).
Be a loving sister to a person who is lonely. Seek her out today.
1 John 3:16-18