Would you be surprised to learn that the next big public health issue in our country on par with obesity and substance abuse might be loneliness? It can have a very devastating effect on the well-being of people because of the lack of sleep, cognitive decline, depression, energy, and even pain. Health experts say that social pain caused by the feeling of isolation, the absence of social connection, and the lack of quality relationships causes the same reaction in the brain as physical pain. The effect that modern technology is having, along with the increased number of people living by themselves and often far from their families, might be contributing factors in the statistics that tell us that the phenomenon of loneliness has doubled since the 1980’s when surveys concluded that only 20% of the population admitted to being lonely. Now that number has risen to over 40%. Loneliness can also be a very real struggle for people in positions of leadership and authority too.
Early in the history of the nation of Israel, God had His hand on a man named Joshua. While we have no indication that Joshua struggled with loneliness, we also know that he made some choices which were not popular with others. For example, when he and his companion, Caleb, were sent to explore the new land in Canaan (Numbers 13 and 14), they were the only 2 out of the 12 spies who came back that gave a positive report. “Let’s go because we can certainly do it!” In this case, the majority were wrong and the results were disastrous. Forty years later, as Joshua became the leader of the nation, once again he faced an enormous challenge, but the thing that gave him the courage he needed was God’s promise to him. God made it very clear that he should not be afraid or discouraged because He would be with him wherever he went. God made it clear that He would never leave him or forsake him. He would always keep His promise. Joshua could count 100% on his God’s presence.
That very same God is the one who continues to say to His children, “I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” It’s the best antidote to loneliness that you can find anywhere and anytime – no matter what you are feeling!