by Dr. Ken Matto
The subject of this study is loneliness. It is really amazing in a world of 6 billion people that loneliness can be so pandemic. I want to deal with some symptoms and causes of loneliness. There is no way to cover every cause or symptom of emotional frustration because as complex as our problems are, our emotions follow in cadence. Emotions gone awry can become a prison to a person, even a saved person because they tend to cover every facet of our being. We view our lives, make decisions, make social contacts through a fragmented emotional state and if we do not seek help, some of those decisions will be costly and may remain with us all our lives.
Loneliness is real and is not imagined as it is widespread in the church. It is not peculiar to only one group, yet I believe it is more prevalent among single Christians. Loneliness affects our:
1 Attitudes
2 Outlook on Life
3 Motivations
4 Relationships
5 Spirituality
Our help can only come from the Bible as the only foundation a Christian can grasp healing truth from.
High Degree of Materialism
A lonely person attempts to fill voids in their life with material goods. There is a belief that loneliness will flee if I have more material things to satisfy the pangs of loneliness. This leads to consistent lifestyle of buying and selling which may cause a person to incur much debt to keep up with others. Materialism does not deliver a person from the bondage of loneliness, instead it projects them into another form of bondage.
Intimidated by Quietness
A lonely person will turn some appliance on whenever they enter a room, even if it is not conducive to whatever they are planning. A radio, TV, stereo, or something just to break the spell of quietness has on people. Quietness can be a thing of great beauty but to a lonely person it is like a coffin.
Consistent Activity
A lonely person tends to create busyness in their life. This is done to fill the time voids. If they slow down, they will dwell on their loneliness, so they create work instead of dealing with it which is like putting a Band-Aid on the wound. It will cover it but it will not heal it. I know single people who do not (not cannot) slow down from the time they rise to the time they plop into bed exhausted. Busy work is good therapy but it is not a cure for loneliness.
Now let me confuse you for a minute. Work is a major method of bringing a person out of loneliness into usefulness. I speak of legitimate work, not created work for Band-Aid therapy. I will speak more on work therapy later. If you are busy and never slow down, you may have a problem with loneliness which you are masking. Let me say there are people who have very fulfilled lifestyles which are normal for them. I am speaking of people who cannot sit down to read a book because they have trouble remaining in one place for any period of time. The Bible teaches in Isaiah 48:22, "There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked." I have seen unbelievers who run from dawn till dusk because they cannot sit still. There is no peace in their life. Many Christians do the same thing until God may decide to slow them down with disease or situation change in which the Christian will have no recourse except to wait on God for resolution of problem. Either we slow down or be slowed down. If you are one who does not like to sit still, then search yourself to see if you suffer from loneliness.
Pre-Occupation with Self
A lonely person is prone to become obsessed with self. They have no other person to care for, so the big "I" becomes number one. Everything this person does is viewed through the eyes of WII-FM which means, "What’s in it for Me?" This leads to poor habits concerning church attendance or bad attitudes at work. When a person becomes their own god, they tend to detach themselves from the reality of the needs of others around them. Money, time, material goods, are all expended when the self can be seemingly satisfied. Pre-occupation with self is the father of materialism. If we view ourselves as the important ones, we will act in accordance with that belief. Selfism blinds us to others and sends us deeper into the world of loneliness when the opposite is sought.
High Attachment to Familiarity
A lonely person attaches themselves to the familiar bases in life. They will desire to stay at home more than normal since the home is a place of protection. They will fear new adventures, even in controlled environments such as the local church. We build a security zone where we feel comfortable and confident. If you are afraid to seek new adventures, look at Deuteronomy 31:8, "And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed." You ain't goin nowhere God aint been first. Now all of us feel more secure with the familiar things in our life but the key is when you are obsessed with being in or around them constantly.
Excessive TV Watching
A lonely person can fall into the satanic trap of excessive TV watching. This may lead to a person finding an identity in a portrayed role. As a Christian our identity is in Christ and when we adopt and adapt to a fantasy role, we sink deeper into loneliness because the role we choose can only be played out on that TV set, not in real life. Excessive TV watching can lead to severe physical complications such as: obesity, hemorrhoids from too much sitting, heart condition from no exercise, diminished lung capacity, diabetes from incessant munching, etc. A person who watches TV from the time they come home till the time they go to sleep is suffering from loneliness. Watching TV only compounds the loneliness.
Social Activities viewed with Fear
Not all loneliness is self inflicted because many have been trained to accept rejection as a way of life. If a person is trained in the art of receiving rejection, they will fear to reach out so they will not be rejected. Instead they will be doing the rejection which in their eyes will put them in control of the situation. This is deceit of the highest. A person who fears social intercourse is suffering from the pangs of loneliness.
Bible Study viewed as non-essential
A lonely Christian may view studying the Bible as non-essential since they feel they have no place to use the information they learn. A person who stays home and does not go out, may view that information as useless. They may cling to the attitude that no one wants my opinion anyway. What must be kept in mind is that when we study the Bible, the information God gives us is for us first, not for others. When we have absorbed the information and put it to use, then we can teach others what we have learned. A lonely person should study the Bible more than anyone because it dispels all fears and negative notions we have created about ourselves. A fact that exists is that when you come to know much about Scripture, people will be coming to you for help, thus ending isolated loneliness.
Sexual Fantasies
Another sign of loneliness is when we dwell on sexual encounters. We have an innate belief that we would become satisfied if we could just have sex on a regular basis. This is a harmful process for a Christian since it blinds us to truth and breaks the warning the Lord Jesus Christ gave us in Matthew 5:28, "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
Of course this applies to both men and women. Whenever we have a sexual fantasy, it diverts our mind from the things of Christ and sets up another god in our life, which must be expelled. Sexual fantasies may lead to a life of masturbation which itself is a vicious cycle of sin. It is four-fold:
1 It begins with sexual thought. This is the place to abort the idea, as soon as it enters the mind.)
2 Then the act.
3 Then the guilt.
4.Then the repentance.
If we keep harboring sexual fantasies, then we will experience the vicious cycle which could become a stronghold in our life as we read in 2 Corinthians 10:4, "(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)"
Feelings turn Inward
A lonely person may portray a hardened, callous exterior since they have turned their feelings inward. A lonely person may believe they have no one to share their hurts and joys with, so instead of the feelings going outward, they go inward and collect like a volcano building pressure heading toward eruption. Feelings that go inward will eventually come out, whether voluntarily or involuntarily and this will give the impression a person is callous. When a person begins to reveal traits of anger or cynicism in normal speech, it is time to get help and diffuse the time bomb. A great place to diffuse the bomb is in the Scriptures.
We have looked at ten symptoms which loneliness may produce. When we see any of these symptoms occurring on a repetitive basis, we must do a self-examination of the root causes of them. If we allow them to go unchecked, there will be more trouble ahead for us. It is like disease, if we allow the symptoms to just exist without investigation, the consequences may be more serious.
I wish to examine some ways in which loneliness becomes a fortress in our lives. We will have two sections: First, reasons we cannot control; and secondly, reasons we can control.
Reasons We Cannot Control
Physical Injuries
An active person may sustain an injury which will incapacitate them for life and the crowd they once ran with has now run from them. This situation may bring on a feeling of abandonment. If the injured person does not accept their injury at the outset, a deep loneliness will pervade their life.
Death of a Spouse
The death of a spouse will bring on feelings of abandonment. It may also be accompanied by angry feelings toward the deceased in the disorientation phase of the grief process. No one can prevent a death of anyone since all our times are already determined by God as we read in Psalm 90.
Death of a Friend
This may also bring on loneliness equal in strength to the death of a spouse. When two people form a life long friendship and then one dies, a sudden feeling of aloneness overtakes the survivor. As with a spouse, there is a reality that a new way of living must now be sought. The void the departed person left must be filled and it is important of what the void is filled with. The passing of a loved one or close friend creates a vulnerable time for the survivor and this is where Satan likes to attack and get a person to turn to sin to fill the void. It is at this point where the Christian must turn completely over to Christ, even if an air of perplexity exists.
Marriage of a Close Friend
When two single people have hung around together for many years and then one gets married, there may arise a feeling of loss. Now it is not that they will never see their friend again but the relationship will be different. The single person must either re-orient themselves to make new friendships or expand their friendship base, or put themselves into an isolated state of existence. I think we as Christians make a mistake which comes back to haunt us. We hook up with one person who becomes a friend or mentor to us and then we do not seek other close relationships. Sometimes our inner circle friendships become almost cultic in nature. This is why single groups are so vital because the opportunity exists to be close to many people, so if the Lord takes one home or they get married, we are not left in a period of loneliness.
Reasons Under Our Control
A belief we are inferior to others
This is a self-induced system of beliefs that I am a nobody with nothing to offer. This mindset is programmed into us by parents, peers, and others in authority. There is no human being inferior to another, we are all at different stages and areas in life. A person who believes they are inferior will never offer themselves because they believe they have nothing to offer and will remain in a lonely state all their lives unless something is done about it. This person is a challenge for the singles group but inferiority need not be permanent. If this person finds acceptance in your group, normally they go from timid to one of the best members of the group. Here are some questions to ask yourself concerning this:
1. Why do you feel inferior?
2. Are you making a comparison of yourself to others? (2 Cor. 10:12-13)
3. Who are you inferior to?
4. Have you fully evaluated your talents, gifts, and potential?
5. Under what conditions did you make this evaluation?
6. Does God think you are inferior?
7. Why are you inferior?
A belief that you are Superior
A self-induced system of beliefs that others are inferior to me prevents me from fellowship with those of less talent, ability, or social standing. This attitude is sometimes drilled into children born into rich affluent families. The person with this attitude is a professional fault finder because the superior person believe they know everything. This person will be lonely simply because they cannot make friends since everyone is beneath them. No one can get close to them to form a friendship. Here are some questions to ask concerning this:
1. What is the basis of your belief that you are superior.
2. Who are you superior to?
3. Superiority is pride, how do you view it?
4. Are you superior in every phase of your life?
5. Does God think you are superior?
6. Why are you superior?
Programmed for Rejection
This is a person who has been rejected by friends, family, or others. They will become lonely because they will stay clear of becoming involved or forming friendships. This is done to prevent any more rejection in their life. They are so programmed to believe that everyone will reject them, they just subsist in this life. This person tends to transfer all their past rejections, whether real or imagined, to the present. Here are some questions to ask concerning this:
1. Who rejected you?
2. Was it an isolated incident?
3. Was it a permanent rejection?
4. Who programmed you for rejection?
5. Have you looked for areas in your life where you are accepted? (Eph. 1:6)
6. Why do you project rejection?
7. Who rejects you now?
8. Who accepts you now? Has God rejected you?
The Elijah Syndrome
This person becomes lonely because they believe that no one holds to the same beliefs they do, so they will not form friendships or become involved in church, fearing that aberrant beliefs held by the church or group will rub off on them. When a person believes they have a corner on truth, there will be a shying away from others to prevent adulterating their pure truth. Here are some questions to ask yourself about this:
1. Do you believe you have a solitary corner on truth?
2. Do you believe that you are the only one who speaks for God?
3. Is a Christian alone in their thinking or is there others who may think alike?
We do not Accept Ourselves
We refuse to believe God has accepted us without any special work on our part. Many know they are saved but live under an umbrella of self-rejection. If a person does not accept themselves or the state they are in, they will believe others won’t accept them either and this results in withdrawal from the main stream and normally finishes in a manufactured private world.
Laziness leads directly to loneliness, you don’t even pass go with this one. A lazy person does not want to become involved with anything. They voluntarily create their own loneliness prison. Laziness like loneliness can be fixed.
Realities behind Loneliness
Loneliness is a Choice
Loneliness happens when we choose to lengthen grief beyond normal time expectations. Hibernation and withdrawal from life is either a conscious or unconscious decision, but nevertheless it is a decision. Christian couch potatoes are transplanted not planted. When we choose a life of isolation, loneliness is the main result of that decision. God designed it that way so we would seek fellowship among other believers because even if you do not feel it, you are part of the greater body of Christ and you have a purpose.
Loneliness is a feeling not a belief
A belief is something which is a conviction and normally that belief is rooted in some type of teaching or truth. A person may hold beliefs in a false system and this is why we see so many people fighting against the truth. They are convinced their belief system is correct. The same principle applies to loneliness in the body of Christ. Loneliness is not a belief rooted in truth, rather it is a feeling because God made the Christian in such a manner that they are a needed part of the body. Each Christian has certain gifts and talents, and this makes them a vital part of the body. When they are missing a void occurs which can only be repaired when the lonely Christian re-enters the market place. So loneliness is only a feeling because it is not rooted in any teaching in Scripture. (Isaiah 49:14-16)
Loneliness is a False Assessment of the Situation
Do you remember Elijah? He thought he was the only one left who did not worship false gods in Israel. God assured him that he was not the only one but there were 7000 who did not bow the knee to Baal. If you are in a dead church, you will definitely feel lonely. You need to be obedient and come out from these religious cemeteries and your Christian life will blossom as you are no longer hindered because of dead orthodoxy. You are not alone as there are millions of Christians and many Churches where you will find acceptance. If you are lonely, you have not assessed the Christian walk correctly. Step back and analyze. Find out why other Christians are happy and you are not.
Loneliness is Anticipation and Fulfillment of that Anticipation
In other words, what you look for, you will find. If you choose to anticipate loneliness, you will find it. You set your mind on a certain situation and you will build on that foundational philosophy. Let me illustrate: You go to a singles gathering and you anticipate you will not be accepted so what happens is, in your mind you are not accepted, so when someone laughs, you think they are laughing at you, when two people talk you will think they are talking about you, etc.
So what you anticipate, you will find plenty of. The problem is that you have not assessed the situation properly. Now let me say that I do not discount the reality of cliques in groups and churches. A clique is a difficult thing to break into and be a part of but since most cliques are gossip centers, it is better for you to stay away from them. Don’t let Satan allow you to project defeat in your life. Christ went to the cross so we could have victory.
Loneliness can become Self-Centeredness
Pre-occupation with self is a great cause of loneliness and sometimes this happens because a single person does not have another to look after, be with, or converse with.  When someone lives alone for many years, they tend to do things which benefit themselves since they are alone and this would not be something out of the ordinary.  Think about it for a minute, they shop for themselves, invest for themselves, live where they believe it is the most convenient, buy the car they want or need, basically their lives revolve around themselves just as a family life would revolve around the family.  In reality a single person is a one person family.  This does not mean they are in sin, but it means since they have lived alone for so many years, they are used to doing things or buying things based only on their singular needs, just as a family of four would do.  Where the loneliness becomes self-centeredness is when the person begins to be a recluse and refuses to go beyond the borders of their present lifestyle.  It is at this point that a lonely person may need a little extra coaxing.  
Loneliness is similar to non-physically caused depression. Both types of people focus on themselves and as a result of any failures or outside situations, they crawl into the "woe is me" syndrome and stay there. They tend to use other people to feed their sympathy ego which normally accompanies these voluntary conditions. (I in the Greek is "ego.") The sympathy ego follows like sneezing does a cold. If you know someone you have been coddling who is into these conditions, then stop, because you are helping perpetuate their sin of self-centeredness. 1 Corinthians 13:11 reads, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." The key word is "put away" which is "katargeo" in the Greek and carries the meaning of destroy, abolish, or cease. That is all you should do with childish behavior.
Now we come to the part which will help you break out of the loneliness which has held you in bondage.
Start Right At The Point Where You Are Now
Don’t try to figure out what happened but start to evaluate your life from this point on. Begin and you will have light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and it will not be an oncoming train.
Assess your Gifts and Talents
Sit down and make an assessment of your obvious gifts and talents. Do not dig deep and over-assess or you may attempt something outside your sphere of talent and fail which may cause you to go back into a state of loneliness, if you allow it
The Key to Breaking the Loneliness Grip
The key to breaking the loneliness grip on you is found in Matthew 7:7: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
ASK the Lord for:
-Boldness of spirit to reach out
-Open doors of opportunity
-A close Christian friend
-Ways to broaden your friendship base
-A home Bible study
-Steady work - Work therapy is a great loneliness buster
SEEK opportunities in your realm of ability. There are plenty of things to do with your gifts and talents. You need to do some research where you can find open doors. If you are serious about reclaiming your Christian life, talk to your pastor, I am sure he will have work for you around the church. The key is to be available and ready.
KNOCK on the doors of opportunity. When you find someplace you believe you would fit in, go for it. Do not fear because Satan has no problem exchanging gifts. He will be glad to exchange your loneliness for fear. God will have a place of service for you (it’s probably waiting for you right now) but you must trust Him to place you in His time and place.
Did you notice the cure for loneliness? It is not a great mystery and does not even require in-depth counseling but it does involve guidance. Loneliness is cured by a voluntary desire to reclaim your life for Christ and serve Him as we are commanded to. We may not have caused our loneliness but may have nurtured it. God is right there to help you and pick you up. In fact I am going to list 10 verses which will give you encouragement to come out of the prison of loneliness. You see loneliness is the only prison where we pass judgment, sentence ourselves, and then carry out the sentence in our own prison.
Deut. 4:31 We are written in God’s Covenant
Deut. 31:6 God goes with us
Deut. 33:27 God is our refuge
1 Sam. 12:22 We are God’s people
Psalm 27:10 God will keep us
Psalm 31:7 God knows our trouble
Psalm 46:1 God is our strength
Psalm 55:22 Christ is our sustainer
Psalm 112:4 He places His light on us
Psalm 147:3 God is our healer
God surely has not abandoned us!