“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me….” Psalm 23:4a (NIV)
According to hrsa.gov (Health Services and Service Administration for the U.S. Gov.) loneliness is now an epidemic. “Nearly one out of three older Americans lives alone.” One study indicated that “loneliness and social isolation can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” It added that “two in five Americans report that they sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and one in five say they feel lonely or socially isolated.”
In her testimony before the U.S. Senate on April, 2017, BYU Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad said, “The lack of connection can have life threatening consequences.” Medical research attributes physical and mental health issues to loneliness including depression, suicide, cardiovascular disease and stroke, increased stress levels, decreased memory, antisocial behavior, poor decision-making, alcoholism, and drug abuse. One article stated that lonely adults consume more alcohol and get less exercise than those who are not lonely. Their diet is higher in fat, their sleep is less efficient, and they report more daytime fatigue.
Despite the rise in social media, our culture continues to isolate us. For example, the average household size in the U.S. has declined in the past decade, leading to a 10 percent increase in people living alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over a quarter of the U.S. population — and 28 percent of older adults — now live by themselves.
As you read this you may feel the pain that loneliness brings. As strange as it sounds, if you feel lonely, you’re in good company. Even King David, a man after God’s own heart and ruler of Israel, felt lonely at times. In Psalm 25:16, he prayed, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”
I’ve discovered it’s in those most lonely of times, when my soul cries out to God, that His presence brings peace. I fall back on the promise of His Word in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me….”
Jesus had such assurance of God’s presence that when all the disciples scattered and left Him alone at His trial and suffering, He said, “I am not alone because the Father is with Me.” John 16:23 (NLT)
Do you have that assurance in your life? For those who put their trust in Christ, He promises, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NLT) One of the very names Jesus was given was “Emmanuel” which means “God is with us!” (Matthew 1:23)
Knowing that God is with you is the first step in conquering loneliness. Have you put your trust in Him? Receive Christ today. Invite Him into your heart and life and experience the comfort of His presence 24/7!
But as comforting as that is, we still need people with skin on. God created us for connection and companionship. In a perfect world, the Creator recognized something was missing. Tomorrow we will see what that was and how God responded. It’s the second step to overcoming loneliness.