One day I went for a walk to meditate. As I watched a bird sitting alone on a fencepost, I thought about a passage of Scripture found in the 102nd Psalm: “I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop” (Psalm 102:6-7).
Are you lonely? There are many lonely people today. Loneliness is one of the supreme problems of modern society. But when you are with Christ, you have Jesus as your Lord and companion.
Jesus came to a man who was lonely and sick and paralyzed. For 38 years the man had sat in the same spot, lonely and tired, without a friend. This bundle of loneliness and human pain had been buffeted by the surging tides of thousands of people, but Jesus singled him out. He became the man’s friend, and He healed him (John 5:1-9). Jesus will become your friend if you will let Him.
Loneliness has an inner dimension. It is a thirst of the spirit, and the roots of loneliness are within each of us. A poll revealed that fear and loneliness can take over a child’s life when a parent suddenly vanishes from the scene—whether a mother or a father, whether from divorce or death—and the child crumbles.
So, first, there is the loneliness of sorrow. The older I get, the more funerals I attend as friends die. Jesus wept at the funeral of a friend. On that occasion He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). Think of the hope in that statement. Spiritually we will never die. If we come to Christ, we will be alive with Him forever.
If you died right now, would you go to Heaven? Are you sure that your sins have been forgiven? You say, “Well, I’m not sure I’m a sinner.” The Bible says, “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). We are all guilty before God, and we are facing judgment and hell.
But in Christ is the promise of a new life, forgiveness of sins, a chance to start over. He said we are to be born again (John 3:7). If you come to Christ, you can be born again spiritually and start life over, as though you had never committed a sin.
The Loneliness of Sin
Second, there is the loneliness of sin because a deeper and more basic root of much loneliness is isolation from God. You may be isolated from God—you may go to church, you may have your name on a church roll, you may have been baptized and confirmed in the church—but you really don’t know Christ. You don’t have His life, joy, peace or the forgiveness that He offers.
Loneliness began in the Garden of Eden, when man and woman made a terrible choice. They chose to turn from God. They went their own way. Sin entered that beautiful garden, and sin was given to the next generation and the next and the next, down to you and me. We all have the disease of sin, and it is a fatal disease. Nobody ever escapes the judgment of the disease of sin. So the roots of loneliness were planted in the human soul and have been inherited by every individual ever since.
In that garden God went looking for Adam. He knew where Adam was, but He wanted Adam to know where He was. He said, “Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). And Adam was trying to hide from God because he already had eaten the fruit of the tree. But Adam couldn’t hide from God.
Loneliness has never been a respecter of persons. The world’s greatest artists, writers and composers, kings and queens, carpenters and plumbers have experienced loneliness.
John 13 records the events surrounding the Last Supper and Jesus’ betrayal by Judas. The Scripture says that Judas “went out immediately. And it was night” (John 13:30). No one ever went away from Jesus but that it was “night” for that person.
Perhaps you once knew the fellowship of God’s people, and you had peace with God. But perhaps you have backslidden; you have turned away from God. There was a time when you meant business with God, but now your heart has grown cold toward spiritual things. You have been pulled away by other people, other things, other gods and other pleasures that you know are wrong.
You, too, went out from the presence of God, and you have found that it is night out there. You don’t have fellowship with believers. Yet you don’t feel at home in the world where you are living, either.
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No loneliness is quite so bitter as the loneliness of a person who claims with his mouth that he knows Christ, but deep in his heart he knows he doesn’t. Are you straddling the fence, trying to put one foot in God’s Kingdom and keep one foot in the world’s kingdom? Sin makes us lonely because it separates us from God.
It was never God’s intention for you to be lonely. Hundreds of surveys prove that our society has not made us better adjusted or happier people. We may have fleeting moments of sensual satisfaction, but these can create bitterness and the loss of a sense of pleasure that no psychiatrist can cure. The Bible says that “The wicked are like the troubled sea, When it cannot rest, Whose waters cast up mire and dirt” (Isaiah 57:20).
The Loneliness of Jesus
Third, there is the loneliness that Jesus experienced. He spent much time in the company of the lonely and the outcast. Remember the woman at the well? She was a lonely woman. She had had several husbands—no satisfaction, no peace, no joy. When she came to draw water, Jesus talked to her, forgave her and made her a new person. She went into the village of Sychar and told all the people, “Here is someone who knows all about me; come and see him” (Cf. John 4:29). And they all went out to see Jesus.
Jesus knew loneliness. The Bible says, “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Even though great crowds had surrounded Him at times, Jesus was alone. Scripture says, “All the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matthew 26:56). The crowds who had shouted, “Hosanna” (Matthew 21:9), now shouted, “Crucify him, crucify him!” (Luke 23:21).
On the cross, Jesus was dying for you and for me. God was laying on Him all of our sins, our judgment and our hell. Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). In that terrible moment something mysterious happened. No theologian can explain it. Jesus took our sins, our judgment, our hell, the penalty that we deserve for our sins. He alone had to bear that pain on the cross.
He became guilty of all the sins of the entire world. He experienced ultimate loneliness as He died for you and me. How can anyone turn away from Jesus when they see Him dying on that cross? How can anyone reject Him, when He offers forgiveness? He offers new life. He offers peace and joy and friendship, so that we need never be lonely again.
Jesus suffered for us. Jesus was lonely for us. Through His death Jesus Christ dealt with the primary cause of human loneliness—separation from God.
The Loneliness of Death
Fourth, there is the loneliness of death and judgment. I remember when my mother was dying. She had a joy and a peace. We never went into her room that we didn’t leave with the feeling that she had ministered to us. Even when she had been in a coma and awakened one night, she quoted Scripture. The nurse said that she never saw such a look on anyone else’s face. Then she fell back into her coma and went into eternity. There is a great difference, even in the last hour of life, between those who know Christ and those who don’t know Him.
The Loneliness of Christianity
Fifth, there is the loneliness of deciding for Christ. I am not going to tell you that it is easy to follow Christ. It is not. Jesus said, “If you are not willing to deny self and take up your cross and follow Me, you can’t be My disciple” (Cf. Matthew 16:24). Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to go with Christ all the way to the cross?
In the midst of it all is His peace, His joy, His friendship, His forgiveness and His promise, and the hope that He offers for the future.
Our reaction to loneliness is often to deal with the symptoms rather than the cause. We become involved in pleasures, parties, good times or sex. We become involved in our work. We throw ourselves into the social whirl.
Any attempt to deal with sin without conversion is like struggling in quicksand. How many people today are trying to save themselves but can’t? If you have come to the end of your rope, turn your life over to Christ. Let Him bear your burdens, help you solve your problems, direct and lead you in your life. Jesus Christ restores our most fundamental relationship in life: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). But you have to make this decision alone.
The psalmist who wrote about the pelican and the owl said, “O my soul, why be so gloomy and discouraged? Trust in God. I shall yet praise him for his wondrous help. He will make me smile again, for he is my God” (Cf. Psalm 42:5). Often loneliness is God’s way of letting us know that it is time to reach out. Reach out to the cross and say, “Lord, I open my heart and my life to You. I commit myself to You.”