"You don’t really strike me as a lonely person, but you do seem lonely sometimes as well." One of my friends said that to me the other day. My response to her was, "Who isn’t?" As I think about my response I realize it may be truer than I originally thought. Merriam-Webster defines being lonely this way:
Main Entry: lone-ly
Inflected Form(s): lone-li-er; -est
1a: being without company: LONE b: cut off from others: SOLITARY
2: not frequented by human beings: DESOLATE
3: sad from being alone: LONESOME
4: producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation
I realized the core of loneliness was not captured in that definition. So I redefined it this way: “Loneliness is acknowledging the reality that we’re missing something.”
Somehow it has come to be taught that as Christians we should never feel lonely, and when we became believers the "God-shaped hole" is automatically filled. When we find ourselves lonely we begin to worry … maybe we don’t have enough faith, maybe we aren’t content enough. We think "maybe if I only …" and we do things to assuage this loneliness. We get married, we pray more, we read more Scripture, we have children, we move, we find new friends, we switch churches.
For the believer, there is hope that loneliness will end. Being lonely isn’t to be avoided, it’s a reality of being human, and even more so a reality of being Christian. Our beings long to be united with the One who has regenerated our heart, and until we can be fully with Him we feel the absence of that. "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Cor. 13:12). There’s a day coming where we will know fully and our longing will be fulfilled. And in that day there will be no more loneliness. Until then we wait … and we know by our restless spirits there is something missing. May we know there is an end to our loneliness.
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8.19-25).
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