Being alone and being lonely are two different things. One can be alone without being lonely, and one can be lonely in a room full of people. Loneliness is, therefore, an emotion being brought on by feelings of separation from other human beings. There is no deeper or much more severe sadness that comes to our minds that we are alone in this world, that we have no friends, that no one cares about us, that no one is concerned about anything that might happen to us, that no one would care if we die today or even shed a tear at our grave.
What can we learn from Pslam 102:6-7?
I resemble a pelican of the wilderness; I have become like an owl of the ruins. I lie awake, I have become like a solitary bird on a housetop.
(Psalms 102:6-7 NASB)
Removed from the interests and activities of life, the bedridden sufferer feels as if left alone; his very weakness and helplessness make him feel lonely; there must be long hours of the day when he is actually alone, and long, sleepless hours of the night when he seems all alone; and he must go altogether alone down into the "valley of the shadow." Here the psalmist uses as figures three birds which were regarded, in his day, as types of loneliness. The pelican is the bird of the swamp; the owl is the night bird of the desolate ruin; the sparrow is melancholy when it loses its mate. Tristram describes the pelican as sitting motionless for hours after it has gorged itself with food, it's head sunk on its shoulders, and its bill resting on its breast. There is a bird in Western Asia, sometimes called a sparrow, which has a custom of sitting solitary upon the habitation of man. It never associates with any other, and only at one season with its own mate; and even then it is often seen quite alone upon the house top, where it warbles its sweet and plaintive strains, and continues its song, moving from roof to roof.
I. LONELINESS AS AN ELEMENT OF TROUBLE: There is forced loneliness, and there is a sought loneliness. That sought loneliness may be right, worthy, and useful; but it may also be wrong, trying to others, and making needlessly difficult the work of the nurse. Those who would cheer us by their presence too often frown away. Sick people fail sometimes in due self-restraint; they become self-centered and inconsiderate of the feelings of others. The wish to be alone may be quite wrong.
II. LONELINESS AS A CALL TO CHRISTIAN SYMPATHY: Waiting times of pain seem very long; waiting times of mere necessary resting without pain may even seem longer. The visit of mere good cheer is Christian service. The sight of another face, the sound of another voice, and the touch of another hand are full of truest relief and comfort. Ease the lonely hours of every sick friend within your reach.
III. LONELINESS AS AN APPEAL FOR DIVINE MANIFESTATION: That is the point we have in the psalm. God is the Supreme Friend of the lonely heart. Compare "Alone, yet not alone, because the Father is with me." Jesus on the cross is the sublime model of loneliness; yet he could say, "My God, my God!"
No one felt loneliness more keenly than David. In many Psalms, we can see the earnest, heartfelt appeals to God, David cried out in loneliness and despair. When everything around him was shattering and his own people were against him. Lonely and afflicted his only hope was in God.
It is interesting to know that the word “lonely” is never used in the New Testament to describe people. It only occurs twice and refers to the desolate place where Jesus goes off to be alone with the Father.
Whatever the cause of loneliness, for the Christian the cure is always the same—the comforting fellowship of Christ. The loving relationship with our savior is everything. He is the friend who “sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24), who lays down His life for His friend (John 15:13-15), and who has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us and be with us until the end of this age (Matthew 28:20, Isaiah 41:10). Whatever you are feeling today, just cry out to Him, He is close and embracing you tighter than you are holding onto Him.
Look for yourself and you will find loneliness and despair. But looks for Christ and you will find Him and everything else.