Being alone and being lonely are two different things. One can be alone without being lonely, and one can be lonely in a crowded room. Loneliness is, therefore, a state of mind, an emotion brought on by feelings of separation from other human beings. The sense of isolation is very deeply felt by those who are lonely. The Hebrew word translated “desolate” or “lonely” in the Old Testament means “one alone, only; one who is solitary, forsaken, wretched.” There is no deeper sadness that ever comes over the mind than the idea that we are alone in the world, that we do not have a friend, that no one cares for us, that no one is concerned about anything that might happen to us, that no one would care if we were to die or shed a tear over our grave.
No one felt loneliness more keenly than David. In a series of earnest, heartfelt appeals to God, David cried out in his loneliness and despair. His own son was risen up against him, the men of Israel went after him, and he was forced to flee from the city, and leave his house and family. Lonely and afflicted (Psalm 25:16), his only recourse was to turn to God and plead for mercy and God’s intervention (Psalm 25:21) because his only hope was in God. It is interesting to note that the word “lonely” is never used in the New Testament to describe people. In the New Testament, the word “lonely” only occurs twice and both times refers to desolate places (Mark 1:45; Luke 5:16), where Jesus moved off into the wilderness to be alone.
Whatever the cause of loneliness, for the Christian the cure is always the same—the comforting fellowship of Christ. That loving relationship with our Master has reassured and encouraged countless thousands who languished in prisons and even went to their deaths for His sake. He is the friend who “sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24), who lays down His life for His friends (John 15:13-15), and who has promised never to leave us or forsake us but to be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). We can take comfort in the words of the old hymn that says it best: “Friends may fail me, foes assail me, He is with me to the end. Hallelujah, what a Savior!”