World View and Current Events
The Loneliness Crisis
Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
Aug 1, 2018

In today’s technological age, we are more connected—and yet more lonely—than ever before. But God has more for us.


CREATED FOR RELATIONSHIP

"It is not good for man to be alone." – Genesis 2:18

Shortly after forming the first human being, this is one of the first things God said about His new creation. It was a declaration that man was never meant to live alone, never meant to glorify God in isolation, never meant to enjoy Eden by himself. It was a declaration that we were made in the image of a Triune God—designed reflect the perfect love abounding between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Fast forward to 2018, and we are craving intimacy and meaning as never before. We binge Netflix dramas and scroll through endless newsfeeds to satisfy our longings—and meanwhile, we don’t even know our own neighbors. At the end of the day, the inbox is full—but the living room is empty.

A SOCIAL EPIDEMIC

"The most common ailment I saw as a doctor was not heart disease or diabetes. It was loneliness." – Vivek Murthy, Former U.S. Surgeon General

Sad Female

Loneliness is a heartbreaking struggle because it's a war waged in silence.


In America today, nearly half of adults report chronic feelings of loneliness and isolation, with young people reporting the highest numbers. Doctors and researchers are now saying that loneliness may even be a greater public health risk than obesity.


This isn't just a problem of socialization, where someone feels sad because they can't make or maintain meaningful friendships. Loneliness is a sense of profound spiritual and physical brokenness that often manifests itself physically in the form of depression, weight gain, heart disease, or arthritis. It’s a vicious cycle where the more isolated you feel, the more destructive your thoughts become—and the harder it is to reach out for help.

There is perhaps no more alarming indicator of the epidemic of loneliness, depression, and hopelessness our culture is facing today than a statistic recently released by the CDC: Since 1999, suicides have increased by 25%. And as we hear of one suicide after another in the media, many loved ones are saying, "I had no idea. I didn't see the signs."

Loneliness is a heartbreaking struggle because it’s a war waged in silence. No one knows you are lonely, and the enemy of your soul would love to keep it that way. How can we break the cycle?

COMING OUT OF HIDING

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." – Galatians 6:2

At the deepest level, this is a spiritual crisis that only Jesus Christ can answer.

As Christians, we have unique insight into loneliness and hopelessness, therefore, a unique responsibility to answer it. The opening chapters of the Bible paint a picture of the perfect community we were made for. Man, woman, and God are at peace with each other. Adam and Eve's "nakedness" signified a complete emotional openness, and their marriage would set the foundation for all society and culture as well. But then sin came in—and loneliness entered the picture.

But God. Out of His infinite love and mercy, while we were yet sinners—rushing toward the cosmic, eternal loneliness that is sinful separation from God—Christ died to restore us to eternal friendship with God and our neighbors. Overcoming our loneliness therefore begins with knowing, first and foremost, that we are deeply known and accepted by God. And it continues by taking the risk of knowing and being known by our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you are fortunate enough to have a strong sense of Christian community, consider that you enjoy this because of God's generosity to you. How might you invite the lonely into the gracious community He has given you? Consider ways that you can step out of your comfort zone and "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31).

If you are feeling lonely, look upon God and see His love for you through His Son. Be encouraged: The loneliness you now experience is temporary. Even now God is preparing an eternal home for you with Him (John 14:2-3). Feel confident in God's love for you as you look for opportunities to develop friendship. Take the risk of picking up the phone, meeting with a friend, asking for prayer, or initiating a meaningful conversation.

We all need a community that we can laugh, cry, and bleed with—a family to go to battle with, grieve with, and celebrate our victories with. It's a gift from God that is worth fighting for.

The Bible describes Christ's reunion with the church as a great wedding feast (Revelation 19:6-9). Every act of deliberate community, even offering a cold cup of water (Matthew 10:42), foreshadows that moment when we will enter everlasting, joyful friendship with God and each other—never to be lonely again. Through Christ's blood, we can have a taste of that fellowship right now. So let us seek out community and befriend the lonely, knowing that in doing so, we follow the example of Christ Himself.


 If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the national suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255.