by Wayne S. Walker
Have you ever been lonely? I dare say that you have. Loneliness is a feeling that is common to all humans at one time or another in their lives. Webster defines "loneliness" as the state of being "without company, lone, sequestered or secluded from society, solitary, not associated with human beings;" and further, "conscious of and depressed at being alone." Everyone of us, I am sure, has found himself (seemingly, at least) forsaken by others, left out, all by himself–in a word, lonely. Even great men of God have suffered these circumstances (cf. Elijah in 1 Kings 19:1-18). Since the Bible is able to furnish us completely and reveals God’s provisions for all things pertaining to life and godliness, we can know that the Lord has an answer for this problem.
After God created Adam, He said, "It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18). And so He made woman as a help meet for him. Marriage is one of God’s ways to meet the human need for companionship. As the husband leaves his father and mother to cling to his wife, loving her as his own body, and as the wife reverences, submits to, and loves her husband (see Ephesians 5:21-33), they make possible for each other the most intimate kind of association known to humanity and thus complement each other’s needs. Those who, because of death, unavoidable separation, unwilled divorce, or simply not being able to find the right mate, can understand the loneliness in being "single." Certainly, marriage will not solve all of a person’s problems–it may even create a few of its own; but it does demonstrate that two heads can be better than one in solving those problems.
It is within this family relationship that God has made possible the proper rearing of children. The human child, unlike the baby animals, is totally helpless at birth and continues to need attention for approximately sixteen to eighteen or more years of its life. Parents are told to take care of both the physical needs of their children (2 Corinthians 12:14, 1 Timothy 5:8), and for their spiritual needs as well (Proverbs 22:16, Ephesians 6:4). In fact, modern sociologists tell us that the family unit is the single most important factor in the "socialization" of the child. When one has been deprived of his familial ties by either being orphaned or bereft of his marriage partner, Christians are told "to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction" (James 1:27).
In gospel work, there is likewise a need for companionship. When the Lord gave the seventy disciples a limited commission to preach to the Jews, He did not send them out each one on his own but "two by two" (Luke 10:1). It seems He recognized the advantages of being together. Even the apostle Paul chose one or more travelling companions for his preaching trips (Acts 13:1-3; 15:40-41; 16:1-3; 20:4). In fact, when he came to Corinth alone, even though he lived with Aquila and Priscilla, it was not until Silas and Timothy came to him from Thessalonica that he felt "pressed in the spirit and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ" (Acts 17:14-15, 18:1-5). And how many times in his letters did he commend his "fellow-workers" in the Lord? Faithful men need to have sound teachers on which they can rely for strength and help when needed (2 Timothy 2:2). We should never expect gospel preachers, or anyone else, to go forth and do the Lord’s work all by themselves; they need our wholehearted support and assistance (Galatians 6:6).
Another of God’s means for association is the local congregation. We know that first-century Christians "came together" for worship and Bible study (Acts 20:7). Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us that we ought to consider one another and stimulate each other to love and good works, not neglecting our assembling together, but using our meetings to exhort one another (see also Hebrews 3:13). Yet New Testament disciples associated with their brethren socially as individual members as well as congregationally. Paul tells us to "be kindly affectioned one to another with brother love; in honor preferring one another" (Romans 12:12). If I want to associate with the finest people on earth, I will find them among the Lord’s church. Christians are asked to "use hospitality one to another without grudging" (1 Peter 4:9). Brethren in the early church saw the benefits of both "continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house" (Acts 2:46).
But above all else, when we feel lonely, we can turn to Jesus Christ. As long as we continue to go about doing His will, He has said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). Regardless of how small our assemblies may be, we are told that if even "two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). Our Savior’s promise in scripture is, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). When Paul seemed so lonely and discouraged in Corinth, the Lord reminded him, "I am with thee" (Acts 18:9-10). Whenever we feel alone, forsaken by earthly comrades, frustrated by our apparent solitude, it is reassuring to realize what a constant friend and companion we have in Jesus (2 Timothy 4:8-17).
"For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself" (Romans 14:7). God created man as a social creature with a desire for human companionship, and has provided several avenues to fulfill that need on different levels. Happy is the one who has a loving husband or wife and family, the preacher who is blessed with faithful fellow-helpers in his work, the Christian who is a member of a closely-knit congregation, and the individual who recognizes the personal relationship he can have with a caring Shepherd. Indeed, "two are better than one" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). It was T. O. Chisholm who wrote, "Be with me, Lord, when loneliness o’ertakes me, When I must weep amid the fires of pain; And when shall come the hour of ‘my departure’ For ‘worlds unknown,’ O Lord, be with me then." (—taken from Guardian of Truth; Dec. 18, 1982; Vol XXVI, No. 28; p. 9)