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The Cure For Loneliness

The Cure For Loneliness

By: Keith R. Keyser

The recently deceased neuroscientist John Cacioppo was fascinated by loneliness. He spent much of his career studying its neurological and social implications. Ironically – but also happily – he met his wife, a fellow-scientist named Stephanie at a scientific conference. Her description of his work brought an idea to mind; in her words: “I think we both had come to be real fans of loneliness before we met each other. As John would say, and I agreed with him: ‘If you think about what our species would be like without loneliness, it would not be nearly as endearing a species. Loneliness, which compels us to bond with others, gives us what we call Humanity.’”

[1]

Mr. Lonely

  That last statement hits on a fundamental reality of life: people were created to be relational. We are “hard wired” for social interaction. John Donne famously put it this way:

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as any manner of thy friends or of thine

own were; any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”[2]

The Creator Himself declared: “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18.) While that verse’s immediate context details God making woman to be a helper and companion to man, the relationship that the Bible most speaks of is the Almighty’s desire to have loving communion with human beings. From His question “Adam, where are you?” in Genesis 3:8 to His invitation at the end of the Bible: “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17), God’s pursuit of mankind is evident. As the poet Francis Thompson expressed it:

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

  I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

    Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.      

      Up vistaed hopes I sped;

      And shot, precipitated,

Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,

  From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

      But with unhurrying chase,       

      And unperturbèd pace,

Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

      They beat—and a Voice beat

      More instant than the Feet—

‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’”[3]

People may run, but they cannot hide! The Almighty will pursue the lost until their rebellion and rejection of divine truth reaches its apex. On the other hand, believers may sing:

“Lord, Thy love has sought and found us

Wandering in this desert wide,

Thou hast thrown Thine arms around us,

For us suffered, bled, and died:

Sing, my soul! He loved thee,

Jesus gave Himself for me.”[4]

  From Genesis to Revelation, the Lord displays His unwavering commitment to have an eternal relationship with humans. At times He speaks of His chosen people Israel as His  firstborn Son (Ex. 4:22); elsewhere they are described as His wife (e.g. the book of Hosea; Isa. 54:5.) These tender metaphors lay bare God’s heart in passages like Jeremiah 2:2-3: “‘Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘I remember you, The kindness of your youth, The love of your betrothal, When you went after Me in the wilderness, In a land not sown. Israel was holiness to the Lord, The firstfruits of His increase. All that devour him will offend; Disaster will come upon them,’ says the Lord.’” (Boldface mine.)

A Match Designed In Heaven, But Made On Earth

  In the New Testament, God similarly describes the church as His children (Jn. 1:12-13), sons (Gal. 3:26), and bride (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-33); thus, expressing His deep desire to fellowship with His people. As He says in Revelation 3:20-21: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Boldface mine.) God will have an eternal relationship with His people – both Israel and the Church – in the new heavens and new earth (See Rev. 21-22.) The Lord’s Old and New Testament peoples both arrive at the culmination of the divine promises and covenants. As Revelation 21:3 says: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.[5]

To make this possible, God had to remove the major impediment to our relationship: sin. Since “the wages of sin is death . . .” (Rom. 6:23), a perfectly righteous sacrificial death was required. By common consent of the Triune Godhead, the Son of God took on impeccably spotless humanity and laid His life down on the Cross. The Author of life became the Man of sorrows – “the blesser was a curse once made”[6] – so that mankind might be redeemed from spiritual slavery (Eph. 1:7) and reconciled to their Creator (Col. 1:21-22.) Now to those who repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who died, rose again, and “ascended on high . . . [leading] captivity captive” (Eph. 4:8, wording adapted) “. . . the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23.) Truly, God’s fellowship with humans comes at an unfathomably high price!

No one need ever be lonely, for the eternal God seeks to know them personally. To His own He promises: “. . . I will never leave you, nor forsake you . . .” (Heb. 13:5.) This relationship begins when one receives Christ, but it extends into eternity future with never-ending communion between the Almighty and His beloved redeemed ones. That is, salvation through the new birth is not merely a relationship made for heaven: believers have fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit who indwells them from their conversion onwards (John 7:37-39; Phil. 2:1.) The moment one trusts Christ as Lord, they begin a walk with the Lord, who is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24.) Everlasting friendship is the believer’s portion on earth and in the glorious future that awaits him in the coming age.

  1. New York Times Obituary page, 3/26/18; electronic ed. accessed here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/obituaries/john-cacioppo-who-studied-effects-of-loneliness-is-dead-at-66.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fobituaries

  2. John Donne, “No Man is an island,” on the website: https://web.cs.dal.ca/~johnston/poetry/island.html Accessed on 3/30/18.

  3. Francis Thompson, “The Hound of Heaven,” in Poems. (London: John Lane, 1895), 48.

  4. Josiah Hopkins, “Lord, Thy love has sought and found us,” #31A in Hymns For The Little Flock.

  5. Both the tribes of Israel (Rev. 21:12) and the apostles of the Church (Rev. 21:14) appear in the New Jerusalem.

  6. Adapted from Robert Holden, “Lord of glory, we adore thee,” #134 in Hymns For The Little Flock.

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