God's design—and His cure for loneliness—is a foundation in Christ and relationships with others.
Years ago, I took a survey in our church of questions believers had about various topics, and boy, did they pour in: the bulk of them dealt with relationships--singleness, marriage, divorce--but they also touched on a myriad of other things. What I found once I looked at them and prayed over them, however, was that the underlying problem to much of the suffering believers face is loneliness.
I'm not talking about the inmate in prison. I'm not talking about the divorced people who sit in the bar drinking away their sorrows. And I'm not just talking about lonely-heart singles. I'm speaking about church-going Christians who are married with a couple of kids, a nice home, and a lot of toys, who are still miserable and lonely.
Loneliness is feeling alone even when you're surrounded by people. It's feeling unwanted, like nobody cares--like there's no hope. On a spiritual level, loneliness is the malnutrition of the soul that comes from living on substitutes.
Isaiah 55:1-2 says, "Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?" In other words, "You're spending your money, but you're not buying food. You're working hard and you've got a good job, but you're not satisfied."
This is the result of living on substitutes: it causes your soul to be eaten away. What's sad is that I have met believers who are content to settle for this way of living. God wants to give them abundant life; they settle for fun. God wants to give them joy; they settle for entertainment. God wants to give them rest; they settle for sleeping pills.
"Listen carefully to Me," the Lord continued in Isaiah 55:2, "and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance." I believe that what is needed in view of the problem of loneliness is, number one, a solid foundation, which is a relationship with Jesus Christ, and number two, a network of people.
Now, I don't want to sound simplistic when I say the ultimate answer to loneliness is Jesus Christ, but I truly believe that a relationship with Christ solves loneliness. But this relationship with Him can't just be casual contact; it needs to be an intimate, abiding, permanent relationship (see John 15:1-8).
We also need relationships with other people. Please recognize that the church is a body in which all the parts depend on one another (see 1 Corinthians 12); we weren't made to function separately. I am amazed at how aloof and independent many Christians are. They come to church, sit alone, listen to the message, and leave. But Christ designed us to be dependent on one another, to develop close relationships where we can expose our hearts and be loved just the way we are.
And that's God's design, God's cure for loneliness: a foundation in Christ and relationships with others. If you're trying to live on substitutes today and all you're feeling is loneliness, know that God sees your malnourished soul and is saying, "Come, buy, freely eat. Don't spend your money without satisfaction. Don't spin your wheels with no results." Don't settle for a substitute when God wants to give you the real thing for free.