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The loneliness issue

read an article in a special Time edition titled, “The Loneliness Epidemic” by Markham Heid. As the article makes clear, among other things, loneliness transcends age, imperils health both mentally and physically, leads to obesity and suicide, causes people to be standoffish or fearful of others and keeps them isolated and disconnected. Of course, the article is much more in-depth and mentions numerous surveys that suggests that the loneliness epidemic is indeed worldwide.

So what I want to do for the rest of this article is share a few possible suggestions for dealing with our loneliness. Initially, we can replace our loneliness with a disciplined mind. To be sure, we cannot always change our outward situation, but we can do something about our response to that situation. Some of our loneliness is related to circumstances beyond our control. But often, we can do something about the life we live in our minds.

One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the power to use our minds, the ability to think. And recognizing this gift can go a long way toward enabling us to deal with our loneliness.

Second, we can replace our loneliness with a great purpose. I know a number of lonely people who don’t have a great purpose. When we are asked, “What am I supposed to do with my life?”And it always begins with a great purpose, something bigger than we are.

Third, we can replace our loneliness with a willing involvement. In her book, “Singleness,” Dorothy Payne pointed out several possible solutions for dealing with loneliness.  Here are her suggestions: write down your feelings, get involved in strenuous physical activity, and other. But there is one of her possible solutions to loneliness, and she said, “Learn to reach out to others.”

At this point, I want to mention another replacement for loneliness. Community is what Christianity has been talking about for 2,000 years. It is my conviction that the church by its very nature can be the solution to loneliness.

Finally, we can replace our loneliness with an active friendship with God. Though these other things I’ve mentioned have definite replacement values for our loneliness, ultimately, there is only one replacement for loneliness. And that is a genuine friendship with God.

What is loneliness anyway? Basically, loneliness is nothing other than our homesickness for God. There is a pain in all of us to return home. God has placed that longing for himself in each of us. Augustine stated it this way, “Thou dost keep us restless O God, until our hearts rest in Thee.”