“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” Psalm 25:16
Loneliness- a growing public health concern.
“Loneliness is a growing public health concern-And what can we do about it?” This is the title of an article found in HuffPost by the writer Carolyn Gregoire dated 03/21/2015. The article says our time has been called the “age of loneliness” and “one in five Americans suffers from persistent loneliness.” One in five are faced with persistent loneliness? Despite the fact that people are more connected than ever before due to the technological breakthrough, social media, cell phones and computers, people feel lonely than ever before. A number of researchers shed light on the fact that chronic loneliness raises the risk of heart diseases, depression and other physical and psychological issues.
Another article in Forbes dated January 18, 2017, had a title “Loneliness might be a bigger health risk than smoking or obesity”. (forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/01/18/loneliness-might-be-a-bigger-health-risk-than-smoking-or-obesity/#7e9b4aac25d1). Fortune magazine called it Chronic loneliness is a modern-Day Epidemic (Fortune.com/2016/06/22).
Suicide episodes, especially among young age population are on increase in America and in other countries around the world. Frankly, many people of all ages face this issue in this advanced technological age that we live in. They think nobody understands them or feel their pain and frustration. People may be in the midst of other people, still, they can feel lonely because of no trusted friends or relatives whom they can share their feelings and pains.
Men of God Experienced loneliness.
Some of the great men of God had experienced several episodes of loneliness in their spiritual life. David says to God in the Bible in Psalm 25:16, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. He said his painful experience in Psalm 27:10, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.”
The Psalmist who wrote Psalm 102 describes the feeling of loneliness in verse 2, “I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.” He feels like no one is there to share his pain and sufferings. Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:16, “No one stood by me the first time I defended myself; all deserted me.” You see all deserted the great apostle. Again David says in Psalms 38:11, “My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stands far off.” What a painful lonely experience?
Job, when he was faced with severe loses and sufferings, said like this in Job 30:2, “My voice is as sad and lonely as the cries of a jackal or an ostrich.” His friends came to visit him and comfort him in his sufferings. But still, they couldn’t understand Job and eventually, they started blaming and criticising Job.
You see, men of God experienced the pain of severe loneliness in their life.
Can a young man set an example for us?
When I read these articles about the huge problem of loneliness out there and its dangerous consequences, I was thinking about David at his young age of 16 or 17. Being alone out there in the mountains with his father’s sheep away from home was really a terribly lonely experience for a young man. You see, because he was a shepherd boy early in his life taking care of family’s sheep, he had to spend a long time away from home with no one else except his sheep around him. Think about this young boy out in the fields, alone day after day and night after night. No baseball or basketball courts, no facebook, twitter or Instagram, no cell phones, computers or tablets and no TV or internet games. No friends to play with. We are talking about loneliness here. This is a classical, severe experience of being alone with sheep and with no other fun in his life.
When he laid down on the grass in the night time by looking at the sky with moon and full of stars and the vast heavens above, he started singing and praising God in his loneliness. He sang,
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens, God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.” (Psalm 19)
Probably when he started his shepherd job for his Dad, he was singing songs of other people being alone there. Remember he played the harp and that was the only fun probably he knew about. Now he started singing to God from his own heart, with his own words. Wow! What beautiful words. He must have thought good about himself. He discovered he can do something good – making songs, playing harps and praising God.
You see, he had the only sheep to talk to in his shepherding life and no one else. David might have thought in his loneliness, ‘Do I have any future at all? Am I going to be lonely like this all through my life? Instead of hating his profession of feeding sheep and being alone, he started praising God by singing new songs to God.
As a teenager definitely, he may have worried about his future and the fact that he does not have any fun or friends may have caused him much anxiety. Another song came to his mouth and that is Psalm 23.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
The lonely young man is discovering he can do something good in his loneliness and his loneliness is turning into a time of talking to God and singing to God. He became busy in his activity of making and singing songs. Later, these songs became the hymns of the nation Israel in their worship services. The whole congregation sang the young boy made songs and praised God. Through the centuries David’s Psalms became part of the Scripture called Bible because those songs were ”God-breathed” or “God inspired” (2 Timothy 3:16) words in his loneliness for the benefit of many millions of people. Even today we go to his Psalms in the Bible to find comfort and peace from God when we are faced with sufferings and loneliness.
In short, David turned his loneliness into times of worship and praise to God.
Mark it, Underline it, highlight it.
My friend, I am sure of this one thing and you can mark it, underline it or highlight it. Listen, loneliness is a divine time God uses to shape and form you to higher responsibilities later in your life if you seek God and listen to Him. See, God want to talk to you one-on-one in your loneliness. David started talking to God in his loneliness and he started listening to God in his loneliness. No one is around him. He started a conversation with the Lord Almighty. He started praising God with new songs. No wonder God turned a small shepherd boy to a royal king. In your loneliness, God wants to become your friend. Your loneliness is a time God is working in you for a new assignment in the near future. My friend, your loneliness issue will be there no more when you understand this is something God planned for you and He is seeking your full attention. Start looking to him, praising God, start reading Bible and going to Bible study. You have a destiny. Your purpose and destiny won’t be clear to you without first going through calamities.
You see immediately after the baptism of Jesus Christ, Bible says Holy Spirit led him to the wilderness and there he was alone for forty days. His companions were wild beasts and He faced the enemy – Devil – in his solitude. Did you notice the Holy Spirit led Jesus to his solitude? Why? In his loneliness and temptation, He defeated the Devil and came out with more power for His public ministry.
Your loneliness is not accidental.
Our loneliness is not accidental. David’s solitude was not accidental, Moses solitude of shepherding his father in law’s animals for a long period of time of 40 years before he was given the new task of leading the nation Israel was not accidental. Christ’s solitude was not accidental. The Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to be alone and tested and gave the empowerment and He came out with victory and more energy and power.
This is what loneliness should accomplish in our lives as well. My friend, without God’s approval, nothing happens in your lives. Our loneliness or solitude also has God’s approval all over it and He has a plan for you- not to harm you but to give you hope and future and to use you in His eternal plan with a brand new vision.
David became a fan of God in and through his loneliness and solitude. He became crazy about God and his matters. How did it happen? His loneliness prepared him to become a ‘man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14).
Usually, I have seen this. People complain and murmur more when they are in loneliness. Children of Israel complained and they were murmuring more in their wilderness journey. Of course, their journey in the wilderness was a time of solitude and loneliness. They are away from their familiar surroundings and lacked many of the things they used to have.
A solemn warning – This could happen to us when are faced with loneliness and other testing times. But keep in mind the constant complaining nature of the children of Israel didn’t help them at all. They could have reached the promised land in a matter of weeks. But due to their hardness of heart and complaining attitude, it took forty long years to reach there. Sadly, only two men – Joshua and Caleb- finally entered into the promised land. All the other people perished in the wilderness.
Orchestrated by God?
You see, their wilderness journey was orchestrated by God. God began the work in them to take them to the promised land. However, their bad attitude broke them in their wilderness and they couldn’t inherit or enjoy what God intended for them.
My friend, your wilderness, your loneliness is also known and approved by God. He has a big plan behind it. You will face loneliness, wild beasts, and human enemies. In addition, on the back side, there is the real enemy of your soul and spirit. He is called the Devil. But remember how David became successful in his loneliness, Moses became successful in his loneliness and Jesus came out with more power and strength after his loneliness.
Please keep in mind God is at work in you. If we know that God is aware of our loneliness and He has a good and great plan behind our loneliness, then we can face it and come out of it victoriously.
Another thing David did in his loneliness was, he practiced his sling and stone during this time. I am assuming there was nothing else for him to practice in his long days and nights with sheep out there in the valleys and mountains. He started using his sling and stones to attack the animals coming to kill his sheep. Eventually, after several practices, he became an expert and skilled person in using sling and stone. He said to the king (Saul) later that he killed a lion and bear with sling and stone and he wouldn’t wear royal or soldiers dress. Because he knew he can use his stone and sling and accomplish victory because God trained him how to use this skill in his loneliness, he faced the giant Goliath with the familiar sling and stone and killed him when all people were scared about him.
Am I talking to someone who is suffering from loneliness? You are in God’s training time. He wants to get your attention and start talking to Him, start reading the Bible, start attending church more and more and see God’s hand behind your loneliness.
Your destiny with God comes with a price tag
Remember there is no destiny if there were no dilemma, confusion or calamities. Your destiny from God comes with price tags. The price tags of loneliness, confusion, darkness, dilemma, broken relationships or calamities. God has set you apart for something great to accomplish. Let you be used by the almighty God. Get the wisdom, empowerment of God as He allows you to go through your loneliness or sufferings. Talk to God, listen to God and understand what He sets you apart for. You are hitting something great in your life for God. You are in the vicinity of God’s power if you seek, search and give yourself to God in your loneliness. You will be busy like David was in his life – making, singing songs, praising God and practicing your talents for a bright and new adventure with God.
God Bless You.
Prayer time: If you never accepted Christ as your Savior, come to God in the name of Jesus Christ. This is an opportune time for you. My dear, God is able and willing to turn your loneliness into something great in His Kingdom. God cares about you and He loves you deeply. The loving God gave His only begotten son for your sins to die on the cross. That much He loved you. Please come to God in prayer.
Pray after me.
“God, I know you love me and you have a wonderful and amazing plan for me. I believe Christ died on the cross, buried and risen for my sins. I accept Him as my savior and Lord. Please save me and use me for your purpose. Amen.”