I recently preached a message on loneliness in our young adult fellowship, In-Transit (IT for short). It was a tough message for me to prepare because I had so much I wanted to say. Therefore, I want to expand on certain aspects of loneliness here in blog form, in hopes that one day I can preach a whole series on it.
For this blog post, I want to dwell deeper into what I introduced in IT. This is one of my main foundational statements in the message:
The central issue is that the pain of loneliness reminds us of our sin that separates us from God.
For this post, let us break this statement up into three points.
The Pain of Loneliness
Loneliness is an emotion. More than that, it is a painful emotion. There is a difference between aloneness and loneliness. People prefer aloneness when they need time by themselves. People struggle with loneliness because of the pain. That is why I emphasized the word pain here.
There are so many reasons why someone can feel loneliness. People can be lonely because they are currently in transition, from school to work or from job to job, single to dating, dating to marriage. Others feel the loneliness when their friends and family are in the midst of transitioning and they feel like they are being left behind. Others experience loneliness because they are victims of a tragic event, whether it is illness, death, or assaults. Then there is the loneliness of being single, the loneliness of working the same stinking job day by day, the loneliness of boredom, or the loneliness of being a bridesmaid/groomsman. There are so many more circumstances where loneliness rises, which leads me to my point—everyone experiences the pain of loneliness in some shape or form.
What then is pain? Pain is a warning, an indicator that something is wrong. If you break your arm, you feel the physical pain of that fractured bone. That pain tells you that you need to do something to fix that dang arm. You can take as many painkillers as you want to numb the effect, but that does not treat the root problem. You need to fix the broken arm.
In the same way, our emotional pain points to a deeper issue. So in the case of loneliness, we cannot fix loneliness by addressing the emotional pain. You can surround yourselves with friends 24/7 and you can still feel lonely. In fact, I argue that “extroverts” might be the loneliness people in the world. They maintain all these friend groups, but what they really long for is a deep intimate relationship. The pains of loneliness.
What is our deeper issue then? Our sin. But I want to clarify what I mean by sin, because our understanding of sin must be much bigger than equating sin to an immoral action. This is the point where I believe most people struggled with.
Sin is part of every human nature. Sin has tarnished and corrupted the image of God in all of us. We are all born with sin (Ps 51:5). I’m not speaking of merely the action of sin, but of the sinful nature that exists within every heart. Consider Ephesians 2:1–3
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
These are all sin issues that exists in the very fabric of the human soul. What separates us from God is not just our evil deeds; it is our very nature that makes us the objects of His wrath.
However, our perception of sin has to be greater than that. The corruption of sin has a deeply infecting presence in all of creation. Consider these effects of sin:
- The pains of work (Gen 3:17–19)
- Natural disasters (Rom 8:20–21)
- Persecution (1 Pet 3:14–17)
- Futility in wisdom (1 Cor 2:14–16)
- Biological dysfunction (John 5:14; 9:1–3; James 5:14–16)*
- Death (Eccl 9:1–6)
This is just a general list. What is important to take away is that sin has corrupted everything. This very nature of sin, that distorts the perfect will and image of God, is what separates us from God.
(*Note: I’m not saying that because you sin, you are being punished with illnesses, though John 5:14 in some small way says that sometimes that’s the case. I believe that sin in general has corrupted everything, including our body so that they are not longer perfect as God intended. That’s why tumors and down-syndrome and other such diseases exist.)
The Reality of the Christian Walk
The last thing I want to point out is the reality of our current state as Christians here on earth. Some of you might be asking, “But aren’t we saved from all this sinful corruption, now that we have accepted Christ in our lives?” Indeed we are, but that promise is an eternal promise. The reality is that the present stage of our lives is in what we call the “already, not yet” state.
Scripture teaches us that we have indeed been free from sin and become slaves to righteousness (Rom 6:17–18). Yet, we are indeed still in spiritual warfare against our own flesh (Gal 6:17). Here, we find tension—the tension between the eternal rewards of salvation and the present reality of sin in sanctification. In other words, we will not perfectly feel that everlasting peace in this lifetime. We will never stop feeling the pains of loneliness because we still carry with us the sinful nature that separates us from God.
But that is why the gospel is so precious. It gives us hope, in the face of death. 2 Corinthians 4:16 tell us
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
This sinful body of ours will eventually die. And in death, we will face the judgment of God for our sins. But the gospel guarantees that our salvation will be based on Christ’s righteousness and not ours. What we find here is that death no longer scares us but instead we look forward to it. Because in death, we will finally be free from this sinful world and sinful body and finally be united in perfect fellowship with our God and King.
Hence, Romans 8:23 states
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Oh what a joy it will be when we finally get our new resurrected bodies, free from sin, perfected in righteousness, and no longer separated from the holy God!