God is the True Friend of the Lonely

Are you sad and lonely? Do you ever feel so forgotten and neglected that you could sit right down and cry? Do you feel that your life would be happier if you would only have more friends?

If that is the way you feel; if loneliness of heart and spirit is now your burden, then, in the words which follow, there is a message for you - a message which should give you the joy that God is the true friend of the lonely, the beacon of light to the lonely traveler on the road of life!

Do you remember the story of Robinson Crusoe - the tale of a traveler shipwrecked on a desolate island? It is the story of a man faced with the most awful fate which can come to a human being - the doom of being utterly alone! Not for nothing is solitary confinement the most dreaded punishment that man can undergo.

It is the feeling that on this earth you are still alone - a stranger in a strange world.

It comes to you when you awaken to the fact that you have no close friend. It strikes you when you realize that so many whom you once knew have moved away or passed onward. It follows you when you are facing the sunset of life - when friends are gone, when children have departed, when you are alone in a house which was once full of laughter, but which is now silent and empty.

And it is the final loneliness which deadens you in the time of bereavement - the almost physical ache which is more than you can bear.

Yet even this stone is rolled away. There is a one sure touch which can put aside loneliness. There is one kind voice which can whisper hope into your ear - the hand and the voice of God - the true friend of the lonely.

In some ways, all of us - and you are among us - are all at one time or another cast away on our own desert island of loneliness - an island where you long for a friendly voice, a tender hand.

There is the earth-made loneliness of a forest crossroads, a sunless valley, a barren desert. But these are types of loneliness which human occupation can cast forth.

Your island of loneliness may be the physical loneliness of the last farm on the upland road, the last house on the edge of town, the back apartment in a large building.

But your greatest loneliness is the loneliness of spirit - the loneliness of the man or woman with no close kinfolks or friends, the man or woman in the small room with but the four walls to answer their unspoken words, the loneliness of the man or woman even in the midst of the swarming city and the surging crowd.

God is the true friend of the lonely because He has always been the true friend of the lonely. He was a friend to the loneliness of Abraham upon the mountain top, of Isaac and Samuel and David. He was the friend of the loneliness of Jesus when He went apart, the night before He was taken!

And from the loneliness which He, too, had felt, Jesus brought the message that you, too, can know and feel the friendship and the comradeship and the love of God. Jesus avowed that not to be able to see God is blindness, not to be able to talk to Him and have Him talk to you, is unbearable silence!

Prayer is the doorway through which you may enter the friendship of God, leaving your dark cloak of loneliness behind. Prayer is the door by which God enters into friendship with you, bringing His abundant love.

Loneliness of spirit is the waiting for a letter which never comes, the listening for a laugh which never sounds.

Loneliness is not something which suddenly comes to you. It creeps upon you slowly and silently. In your younger days, you knew the joy of love and companionship. In former years you had many joys and friendships. Yet somehow - in some way - things changed. Loneliness pressed in upon you.

It is against loneliness you must prepare while friends are still about you. It is against loneliness you must provide when companionship and friendship seem slipping from you.

Little by little you must gain strength of soul and love of God so as to be free from the passing of time. You can keep on loving people if you have always loved them. You can begin to love people if you have not loved them before. But more than anything else, you must make and keep a place in your heart which is a place for God - the true friend of the lonely.

God is eternal. He does not go away nor does He grow old. He does not change, nor does he forsake you. And so, should the time come when none are near, when friends have departed, when kin have gone their ways, you must fill what would be the loneliness of that time with the love and the friendship of God. You must have learned to draw close to God in whom there is no change and to the spirit which maketh all things new.

But it is right here that a wonderful miracle comes to pass. The minute you draw close to God you can in no wise help but draw close to God's children. Loneliness flees from you if your heart is with God and His children.

If you will just honestly and sincerely try to live by the teachings of Jesus, then you cannot be lonely. If you will but believe that God is your loving Father, then you need not study "how to make friends." You will be a friend. And if you are a friend to other men and women, then you can never be lonely.

You make friends by just being friendly, by just being sympathetic. When you say: "How are you?" it is not just a question to which you do not expect an answer. You really and truly want to know how that person is - if they have a burden you can lift or a cross you can help them bear.

You will not always be thinking of yourself and so you will not be "shy." It is so often the people who call themselves "shy" who so frequently complain of being lonely. Haven't you noticed that whenever you do not think of yourself, you are not shy? That you can meet people easily at those times?

There has never been a man or woman with a great faith in God who was ever lonely. When you lack faith you lack trust. And if you lack trust in God and in His children, then surely loneliness will be your lot.

You need not be blind to the fact that in the world many people will take advantage of your trust. You may sometimes be misunderstood, sometimes be taken advantage of, sometimes be cheated. But there is more - much more - to be gained by being trustful than there is lost in being distrustful.

For it is an undeniable fact that most people want to be honest and kind and friendly. Most people respond to honesty and kindness and friendliness with the same things.

A wise man once said that the happiest man or woman, the least lonely, is the one who thinks the greatest thoughts. So furnish your mind and soul with great and solemn meditation. If you will make the Bible your daily companion you will live in a world of greatness and nobility. You will live in a world with a Father who is above the passing of time and people.

But most of all, you will live in a world in which the closeness of God is very, very real. You will live in a world in which countless people like you have suffered all the pain of loss and separation and still have known and felt that the soul was immortal and that God was their truest friend.

You will live in a world where you will turn to God to solve your problems and to guide your steps. With faith in God, you will feel his wonderful sympathy and His protection so strongly that your own loneliness turns to quiet calm even as His compassion gives you peace.

You are not alone, ever, when God is within your mind and spirit. You cannot be alone when you know that God is your eternal Father and you can go to Him at any time with all your hopes and fears.

"Blessed are the uses of adversity," you may have read. Have you ever thought that out of your own loneliness may spring something much nobler and greater than many of the shallow "friendships" which seem to you to make other people's lives so full?

Have you ever thought that when you have passed through the valley of loneliness, it may be so that you can more deeply understand the loneliness of others? "Only the lonely heart can feel my sadness," sang the poet. Only by being lonely yourself can you understand the loneliness of others and count them as friends.

There is the story of the lady who met another one day on the main street. "I'm so sorry to hear of your Caroline's death, Mrs. Ferris. You must miss her very much - you were such friends." "Yes, I do miss her," said Mrs. Ferris, "but we weren't really friends." "Why, I always thought you were. I've always seen you laughing and talking together." "That's so," replied Mrs. Ferris. "We did laugh and talk together, but we were just acquaintances. You see, we never shed any tears together. People have to cry together before they are friends."

How true that is. You have to experience the deeper rather than the surface things of life before friendship can grow. Don't you, even now, feel that your own loneliness has given you a greater sympathy and understanding for others? If you do, then you have found a truth which the poet so nobly utters: "Art thou lonely, O my brother? Then share thy little with another. Stretch a hand to one unfriended, and thy loneliness is ended."

That is why faith in God, love of His Bible, has always been the cornerstone of all friendship - human and divine. The feeling that in your love and faith in God you are bound together with so many, many other men and women is a wondrous one. And time after time, this feeling alone is enough to give you that deep sense of comradeship with others which banishes loneliness.

For belief in God, reliance in His Word, the Bible, gives you a real sense of brotherhood with all those many others who likewise believe, a sense of brotherhood because it is based on fatherhood - the Fatherhood of God!

This is the communion of the saints. This is an external wall against loneliness. This knowledge that many of like faith are praying with you, are sharing the same troubles as yours with the same loving Father - this is your eternal shield against spiritual loneliness. For faith and tears and burdens shared lighten the load - and light the hope of all who share them. Shall we not pray? "For God's Comfort and Friendship in Loneliness."

Prayer For God's Comfort and Friendship in Loneliness

"I, even I, am he that comforteth you." - Isaiah 51:12

Almighty God, whose love is so much beyond my understanding, the greatest joy of my life is to draw near to Thee - to know Thee as my truest Friend and Comforter!

For Thou Knowest, dear Father, that somehow or other I do not seem to make friends easily, nor keep them. It just seems I am left to one side while others have good friends and good times. Often I have been so lonely I could sit right down and cry. Oh, it makes me so unhappy that things should be that way!

Help me, dear Lord, help me to make friends! Help me to forget myself when I am with others. Let me wake up each morning, dear Father, with the feeling that here is another chance to be a good friend of somebody. For truly, that is the way to make friends.

Yet also teach me, my Father, that no matter how dark and dreary the day, I am not alone, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. It gives me such courage to know that although others may forsake me, Thou lovest me always. Why even as I have prayed I have felt Thy comfort filling my mind and my heart and I am so glad! I am so glad that I am uplifted now and can always have Thy comfort and friendship. Amen.

Our Patient Merciful God
The Bible and the Gospel speak of God's great mercy for us ...

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