No Man is an Island

By Pastor Teck Uy

Just the thought of being alone is terrifying. Surely, living on your own is very lonely. In fact, one of the major causes of death has been traced to loneliness. Is this surprising? Not at all! Loneliness is the opposite of cheerfulness and the Bible tells us that “a cheerful heart is a good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22). Because of loneliness, some tend to withdraw from society and live in seclusion, while others go into depression and all kinds of psychological illnesses. It is for this reason that “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6).

We are not wired to be alone. We need a family that we can be part of and enjoy everything that God has in store for us. This was the case of Adam at the beginning. Although God provided everything that he needed to survive, he was lonely. All the material things that God gave him were not enough to occupy him and cheer him up. He needed someone who was just like him, a human being, to share his joy and his burdens. God himself acknowledged this need when he said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18).

Often, even our own family is not enough to cheer us up. We need other people around us who we can commune with. It is in this community that we thrive individually and as a family. This is the reason someone coined the phrase: “No man is an island.” Because we need one another, God commanded us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind; Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt. 22:37, 39). If we love each other as a community, there is no reason to be alone and lonely.

But why are people still lonely even if they are part of a community? Below are some of the reasons:

Rejection – People who are rejected are led into seclusion. They run away from their problems and try to hide. In so doing, they isolate themselves and become lonely. This was the case of Ahitophel, the counselor of King David. After his advice to Absalom was rejected, he took it personally. He felt dejected and we are told that he “set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself” (2 Sam. 17:23).

Fear – Those who are gripped with fear become lonely. They detach themselves from others and spend time in quietness, hoping to overcome their challenges on their own. This was the prophet Elijah’s experience. Because he feared for his life, he hid himself in a cave. While alone, he experienced self-pity and felt so lonely. He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (1 King 19:10).

Sickness  Needless to say, sickness is a major cause of loneliness. This is particularly so when the sickness is a hopeless case in the eyes of men. When Job was sick, he felt so abandoned since no one could bring the comfort that he needed. He then cursed the day he was born and said, “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil” (Job 3:26).

Unmet needs – When someone is in dire need, he feels lonely. It is particularly so when there is no one to turn to for help, as was in the case of the lame man by the pool of Bethesda. He was alone and wishing that someone could extend a little help. He expressed his loneliness and longing for help when, in response to Jesus’ question if he wanted to get well, he said, “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me” (John 5:7).

Because of the inherent need for company, King Solomon fitly said, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Eccl. 4:9-10). While life can be very challenging, we don’t have to suffer loneliness if we have people around to support us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Therefore, let us love one another and be a family together. Hallelujah!