© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Representative Biblical usages

    A. Old Testament
         1. Hebrew word badad - "isolated, separated, apart, alone"
              Gen. 2:18 - "it is not good for man to be alone"
         2. Hebrew word yahid - "solitary, isolated, lonely"
              Ps. 25:16 - "I am lonely and afflicted"
    B. New Testament
        1. Greek word eremos - "abandoned, solitary, lonely"
              Lk. 4:42 - "He departed and went to a lonely place"

II. Defining loneliness

    A. Our created condition as human beings
         1. Created as social creatures, relational beings; we need each other; "no man is an island" -
              Gen. 2:18 - "not good for man to be alone"
         2. God-given needs and desires for love, acceptance, belonging, relating, companionship,
              friendship with other men and God.
    B. Differentiating some terms
         1. Aloneness - being separated from other people.
              a. It is healthy to be alone sometimes.
              b. Can be alone and not lonely. Some personalities prefer.
         2. Solitude - choosing to withdraw and be alone
              a. to retreat - Lk. 4:42; Jn. 6:15
              b. to rest and relax - Matt. 6:31,32
              c. to pray - Matt. 14:13,23; Mk. 1:35
              d. to hear from God - Dan. 10:8
              e. to be silent - Lam. 3:28
         3. Loneliness - a psychological state of mind or feeling of being excluded or estranged from
              other people and/or God.
              a. Not necessarily related to physical situations of aloneness or solitude. Possible to be
                  lonely in a crowd.
              b. Our need for relational interactive socialization is not satisfactorily fulfilled.
                  (1) may be unfulfilled God-given desires
                  (2) may be unfulfilled selfish indulgence of God-given desires
              c. Often a feeling of isolation, separation, detachment from companionship, fellowship,
                  intimacy, or community.
              d. May be sense of separation or fear of being forsaken by God.
    C. Contemporary social situation
         1. Ours has been called the "lonely society"
         2. Some have indicated that 75-90% of adult Americans suffer from chronic loneliness.

III. Circumstances in which loneliness may be experienced. May feel lonely when...

    A. guilt causes you to feel separated
         1. from God - Ps. 25:16
         2. from other men - Gen. 27:1-29; 32:24; 33:1-17
    B. you feel rejected, abandoned, deserted by others - Jn. 16:32; II Tim. 4:16,17
    C. you are voluntarily or forcefully removed from safe, secure environment
    D. you experience the "let down" after a spiritual victory - I Kings 19:10,14
    E. previous successes or popularity have subsided
    F. you have suffered a defeat
    G, you are too busy chasing "success" to relate to others.
    H. you are "burned out" after having tried to achieve by self-effort - Jn. 8:29
    I. you are separated from the group by leadership responsibilities - "lonely at the top" -
         Numb. 11:14,17; Deut. 1:9,12; Matt 26:38-40
    J. you have suffered the loss of a loved one by death or divorce
    K. you are fearful and timid - I Jn. 4:18
    L. you feel inferior, unworthy, self-condemnation, insecure
    M. you are physically removed or separated from those you know and love.
    N. others reject or ostracize you for being different, or for nonconformity
    O. you fail to resolve conflict and misunderstanding; estrangement
    P. you fail to communicate; avoidance; repression; stuff emotions
    Q. you have chosen to "stand alone" against world, sin, religion (Jere. 15:17)
    R. others are not enthused about your interests or project.
    S. you don't take the time to enjoy others and have fun together
    T. you have been prejudged, stereotyped, pegged, put in a box
    U. your particular talents and abilities and personality are not appreciated
    V. you don't fit in - economically, intellectually, politically, religiously, etc.
    W. you don't feel connected, bonded, able to relate -emotionally, spiritually
    X. friends only relate on superficial level; won't get serious and real
    Y. you have been excluded from a particular social grouping
    Z. you feel like an outsider, the "odd man out"
    AA. your present responsibilities (parenting, vocation, etc.) preclude or diminish the development          of relationships
    BB. you retire from your vocation and no longer relate to colleagues daily
    CC. another person is regarded as your "life," & they can't meet all your needs
    DD. you do not feel a sense of oneness, unity and intimacy with your mate
    EE. you have refused to receive the love and intimacy of your mate - SoS 5:3-6
    FF. you have been betrayed by a mate or a friend - Gen. 3:12
    GG. you alienate others by your verbosity, accusations, insensitive comments
    HH. you alienate others by using them in competitive or economic success
    II. you alienate others by criticism, negativism, sarcasm, pessimism, hostility, cruelty,
    JJ. you alienate others by your selfishness, egotism, or spiritual pride.
    KK. you make work, projects, things, possessions more important than people.
    LL. you feel you cannot perform up to expectations
    MM. others are too preoccupied with their concerns to relate with you
    NN. crisis arises and no one offers to listen or assist.
    OO. you feel left behind by a fast-paced technological society
    PP. children grow up, go to school, leave home
    QQ. isolated due to injury; secluded or ignored due to age (Ps. 71:9,18)

IV. Dealing with loneliness

    A. Secular solutions
         1. Mental adjustment. Positive thinking. "Look on the bright side." "Be aggressive."
              Develop communication skills.
         2. Activity. Involvement. Get busy. Change jobs. Join a club. Move. Travel. Have fun.
              Try something new. Be adventurous. Go to church. Volunteer. Get married, or remarried.
         3. Results of such advice have sometimes led to workaholism, alcoholism, sexual promiscuity,
              various addictions, burn-out, increased loneliness, depression, suicide.
    B. Biblical solutions
         1. Regeneration, reconciliation with God. Col. 1:21,22
         2. Confess known sins - I Jn. 1:9
         3. Accept God's forgiveness - Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14
         4. Forgive others - Eph. 4:32
         5. Recognize and affirm the presence of God in Christ - Josh. 1:9; Ps. 23; Isa. 41:10; 43:2;
              Matt. 28:20; Jn. 16:32; Heb. 13:5
         6. Accept the work of the Comforter, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit of Christ -
              Jn. 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7
         7. Participate in the fellowship and community of the Body of Christ, the Church - Heb. 10:25
         8. Participate in the functional ministry of the Body of Christ in using your spiritual gifts -
              Rom. 12:4-6; I Cor. 12



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