Loneliness Is a Sad Affair
"God sets the lonely in families."1
"Loneliness," as Karen Carpenter used to sing so sadly, "it's such a sad affair." Indeed it is. It's one of the plagues of modern Western society.
Dr. James Lynch, a former medical researcher at John Hopkins, contends in his book, The Broken Heart, that loneliness is the number one physical killer today. It can literally break your heart.
"Using actuarial tables from ten years research, Dr. Lynch says that those who live alone—single, widowed, divorced—have premature death rates from two to ten times higher than individuals who live with others. Living alone, he says, does not necessarily produce loneliness, but the two are often related. Among divorced people, suicide is five times higher, fatal car accidents four times higher.
"People who live alone visit physicians more frequently than married people, and they stay in hospitals twice as long for identical illnesses."2
It may not be the most desirable for everyone but we can live without romantic relationships, but none of us can live healthily without at least one or two healthy, close, loving relationships. Without such we limp along in the shadows of life, eking out a lonely existence … and die a little every day.
Dr. Lynch also reminds us that, "If we fail to form loving human relationships, our mental and physical health is in peril."
Besides one's family (if one has one) there's no better place to find love and a sense of belonging than in a healthy, non-legalistic church where unconditional love, acceptance, and friendship are expressed in open, positive, and practical ways. In such a church God does set the lonely in families—that's one reason God has designed the church as a family—the family of God.
Here, too, one can find God—the only one who can satisfy our innate sense of spiritual loneliness. "To live apart from him," says psychologist, Dr. Norman Wright, "is the most pathetic loneliness of all."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in my loneliness help me to always look to you and to a church where the people are loving and friendly—and never to any false substitute which would only end up increasing my sense of loneliness. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Psalm 68:6 (NIV).
2. From Perceptions—Observations on Everyday Life by Maxine Dunnam