“I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.” (Psalm 102:7, ESV)
Today, July 11, is “Cheer Up the Lonely Day.” I’ll admit I had not heard of this observance until I read about it in a magazine. I did a little research, and yes, there is such an unofficial holiday. It’s easy to celebrate—just let someone feel loved and appreciated. We can do this by visiting in person, reaching out by phone (especially to those not living nearby), or just giving a big hug when appropriate.
Aloneness and loneliness are not the same. When we are alone, we are by ourselves in a physical sense. No one else is present, but we are okay with that. Loneliness, however, is a state of mind. It’s a feeling of being left out or having no one to turn to. We can feel lonely in a crowd. If we aren’t careful, loneliness can slide into despondency.
While many of us experienced loneliness during the isolation of the recent pandemic, loneliness has existed from the earliest of times. The Psalmist wrote, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16, ESV). Everyone has felt that at some point.
We all long to feel connected, needed, and known. I stay in touch with friends through text messaging and emailing, but there are times when I just need to pick up the phone and hear their voice. Social media is a poor substitute for personal interaction and fellowship. Although many of us use the internet to connect with others, God designed us for community. We need more than a mouse click to fill the empty spots. We need each other.
Whether it’s you or someone close to you who is experiencing loneliness, here are some things to remember.
Whatever our circumstances, we belong to God. Over and over in Scripture, He assures us that we are His. “We are his people” (Psalm 100:3). “I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine” (Isaiah 43:1). As His child, we are never truly alone. He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
We are valuable to Him. This is very evident by the price He paid for our salvation. Luke 12:6-7 says He even knows the number of hairs on our head.
The Lord understands our loneliness. He experienced it as well. Isaiah 53:3 (NLT) tells us, “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.” This truth is reinforced by Hebrews 4:15 (NLT). “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.”
When one person in the body of Christ suffers, we all suffer. No one needs to stand alone. As part of the body, we minister to each other’s needs and show we care for them. (Read I Corinthians 12:26.)
Here are a few suggestions that will help as we reach out to someone who is lonely.
- Realize that small gestures count and are appreciated.
- Be optimistic and cheerful. (No sad stories or negativity.)
- Let them talk. Show heartfelt interest and concern.
- Validate their feelings. (No put-downs for feeling like they do.)
- Ask what they need.
- Make plans to do something fun. It can be a group activity.
- Encourage them to reach out whenever they feel down.
- Continue to stay connected—a visit, a call, a text, a card.
Don’t wait for the next July 11th to roll around before you again reach out to someone who is lonely. Ask God to give you a sensitivity to others’ needs and respond to His promptings. Every day is a good day to show someone you care.