The world is more connected than ever – but it can still be a very lonely place. Modern technology and social media enable people, who might never meet, to link up and share their lives. It is possible to have hundreds, even thousands of ‘friends’ and followers all over the world. But such friendships are mostly very superficial and a poor substitute for the real thing. And the connectedness glosses over the reality that in many countries societies are fragmenting: marriages and relationships are breaking down; families are splitting up; more people are living on their own. For those who enjoy solitude, this is no problem. But for those who find themselves alone and lonely, it can be crippling. Even people living with a partner or in a family can experience loneliness. To be in a loveless relationship can be even lonelier than being single.
The world is more connected than ever – but it can still be a very lonely place.
Relationship – being fully known, understood and loved – is at the heart of the Christian faith. Christians believe that the God they love and worship has promised that he will always be there for them. The Bible book Hebrews says, ‘…God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you…”’. Another passage in the book Psalms says, ‘where can I flee from your (God’s) presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there…’. In another part of the Bible, Jesus promises that he will not leave his followers as ‘orphans’. Many Christians draw comfort from these assurances when they are faced with loneliness. They believe that when they speak to God by praying, he hears and understands them.
Christians believe it is important to meet each other regularly to worship God and spur each other on in their faith.
Christians believe it is important to meet each other regularly to worship God and spur each other on in their faith. So the Christian faith draws people together into church communities. When a church is functioning well, it is a place of mutual love, support, encouragement and friendship. It is also place to serve, by using skills to help others both within the church but also outside in the community and wider society. This shared sense of purpose can be a positive influence in the lives of people facing the prospect of being alone and lonely. (Of course, church is not the only place where people can find purpose, use their skills and talents and make friends: there are plenty of clubs and societies in town and cities.)
Sometimes people look for an answer to loneliness by seeking a man or woman with whom to have lifelong relationship. Finding such a partner is a good and proper thing. But there are dangers in obsessively looking for “the right one”: yearning for romance with one person can hinder people developing a range of friendships which would diminish the sense of loneliness.