1999 James A. Fowler
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I. Representative Biblical usages
A. Old Testament
word badad - "isolated, separated, apart, alone"
2:18 - "it is not good for man to be alone"
word yahid - "solitary, isolated, lonely"
25:16 - "I am lonely and afflicted"
B. New Testament
1. Greek word
eremos - "abandoned, solitary, lonely"
4:42 - "He departed and went to a lonely place"
II. Defining loneliness
A. Our created condition as human
as social creatures, relational beings; we need each other; "no
man is an island" -
2:18 - "not good for man to be alone"
needs and desires for love, acceptance, belonging, relating,
with other men and God.
B. Differentiating some terms
- being separated from other people.
It is healthy to be alone sometimes.
Can be alone and not lonely. Some personalities prefer.
- choosing to withdraw and be alone
to retreat - Lk. 4:42; Jn. 6:15
to rest and relax - Matt. 6:31,32
to pray - Matt. 14:13,23; Mk. 1:35
to hear from God - Dan. 10:8
to be silent - Lam. 3:28
- a psychological state of mind or feeling of being excluded
or estranged from
people and/or God.
Not necessarily related to physical situations of aloneness or
solitude. Possible to be
in a crowd.
Our need for relational interactive socialization is not satisfactorily
may be unfulfilled God-given desires
may be unfulfilled selfish indulgence of God-given desires
Often a feeling of isolation, separation, detachment from companionship,
May be sense of separation or fear of being forsaken by God.
C. Contemporary social situation
has been called the "lonely society"
have indicated that 75-90% of adult Americans suffer from chronic
III. Circumstances in which loneliness may be experienced.
May feel lonely when...
A. guilt causes you to feel separated
God - Ps. 25:16
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
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" -
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.
L. you feel inferior, unworthy, self-condemnation,
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;
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
Z. you feel like an outsider, the "odd
AA. your present responsibilities (parenting,
vocation, etc.) preclude or diminish the development of
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
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
PP. children grow up, go to school, leave
QQ. isolated due to injury; secluded
or ignored due to age (Ps. 71:9,18)
IV. Dealing with loneliness
A. Secular solutions
adjustment. Positive thinking. "Look on the bright side."
Involvement. Get busy. Change jobs. Join a club. Move. Travel.
something new. Be adventurous. Go to church. Volunteer. Get married,
of such advice have sometimes led to workaholism, alcoholism,
addictions, burn-out, increased loneliness, depression, suicide.
B. Biblical solutions
reconciliation with God. Col. 1:21,22
known sins - I Jn. 1:9
God's forgiveness - Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14
others - Eph. 4:32
and affirm the presence of God in Christ - Josh. 1:9; Ps. 23;
Isa. 41:10; 43:2;
28:20; Jn. 16:32; Heb. 13:5
the work of the Comforter, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit of
14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7
in the fellowship and community of the Body of Christ, the Church
- Heb. 10:25
in the functional ministry of the Body of Christ in using your
spiritual gifts -
12:4-6; I Cor. 12