The Bible’s Viewpoint
Can the Bible Help the Lonely?
Life was lonely for the old man now that his wife was in a nursing home. As the weeks passed, he decided there was no reason to stay alive. That is why he got ahold of a gun . . .
LONELINESS has been called “the disease of the 20th century.” It not only strikes the old but is the cause of drug abuse, alcoholism, and even suicide among the young.
Yes, loneliness is a modern-day plague. Attempts to fill the void of loneliness often prove vain. Some try to surround themselves with “friends”—only to find that such relationships are often shallow and unsatisfying. Others rush into marriages. Observed popular psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers: “Rushing into a marriage is not the answer [to loneliness]. Before you can enjoy any relationship, you need to get more insights into your own problems.”
The Right Outlook
The Bible, though, offers a practical outlook on loneliness. Admittedly, loneliness can be painful, but being alone is not always a bad thing. Jesus Christ is spoken of as enjoying brief periods of solitude. (Matthew 14:13) Rather than becoming lonely or withdrawn, he used such occasions for needed rest and prayer.—Mark 6:31; Luke 9:18.
The lesson? If you find yourself alone, you do not have to feel lonely! Really, your outlook on being alone is more of a factor as to how you feel than is the fact of physical isolation. So how do you use your time when you are alone? Do you simply kill time? Why not use such time productively? There are many worthwhile activities that can be enjoyed alone, such as listening to music or performing long-delayed household chores. Reading the Word of God can be particularly beneficial. It is “alive and exerts power” and can take our minds off ourselves. (Hebrews 4:12) Used properly, moments alone can help you get recharged—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Good Relations With Others
There are times, though, when you want and need the company of others. Not surprisingly, then, the Bible also has advice on cultivating satisfying relationships with other people. Proverbs 18:24, for example, says: “There exists a friend sticking closer than a brother.” It is therefore not always necessary to have a large circle of friends in order to quell loneliness. You can nurture a few close friendships.
Lonely people, though, often find it hard to make friends. But observes a Canadian family counselor: “Lonely people, particularly those in their 20’s, expect a lot, but don’t want to give anything.” The Bible similarly notes that ‘one isolating himself seeks his own selfish longing.’—Proverbs 18:1.
So if you suffer from loneliness, you may need to demonstrate more interest in others. When meeting potential new friends, do you show an interest in their concerns or do you steer the conversation toward yourself? To break the cycle of loneliness, one must be a giver.
At Philippians 2:4 the apostle Paul urges us to ‘keep an eye, not in personal interest upon just our own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.’ How can that advice cure loneliness? In the original Bible language, the verb rendered “keeping an eye” implies making a ‘mental consideration’ or ‘surveying’ for the purpose of pinpointing the most favorable time to act. So look around and see who needs help, who needs a friend. Once you have spotted such a person—act! Many people look out only for themselves; everyone else comes last, if at all. The Bible recommends the opposite: Look out for others first.
Thus, in order to have friends, you must first act as a friend! The Bible says: “Practice giving, and people will give to you.” (Luke 6:38) Besides, “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
“I Am Not Alone”
Human relationships, however, can never entirely satisfy all our needs. This is because man was created with a need to be close to his Creator. (Compare Matthew 5:3.) A friendship with God can prove secure, even when human friendships fail. Jesus Christ once said to his disciples: “Look! The hour is coming, indeed, it has come, when you will be scattered each one to his own house and you will leave me alone.” How devastating! But Jesus could say: “And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”—John 16:32.
A friendship with God is thus the best cure for loneliness. So take the time to get to know him. “Taste and see that Jehovah is good” by beginning a study of the Bible. (Psalm 34:8; John 17:3) But you need not do so alone.
God has taken out “a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14) Over three million people today proudly bear that name as Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are pleased to help you learn about this God. Remember the lonely old man mentioned at the outset? Before he could kill himself, Jehovah’s Witnesses called on him. They helped him appreciate that there was a living God who cared about him. (1 Peter 5:7) Despair gave way to joy as he began a study of the Bible.
Interestingly, associating with true Christians also opens up opportunities to make new friends. Because such friendships are based on a mutual love of God, these are bound to be lasting, enduring relationships. So seek out Jehovah’s people. With their help and the help of God’s Word, you can learn to dispel the pangs of loneliness.—Matthew 12:48-50; John 15:14.