16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
Did you know that half a million people aged over fifty go at least five or six days a week without speaking or hearing from anyone at all? I was shocked when I read that statistic from the Campaign to End Loneliness. Many of us will have felt lonely at some point or another over this season. Others may have accepted loneliness as a part of life, period. This isn’t just a problem for older generations but it affects people from all age brackets. Action for Children reports that 43% of the 17 – 25-year-olds they surveyed experience problems with loneliness, with over half claiming that they felt “unloved.” Parents can also experience this emotion with 24% claiming they were “always or often lonely.” It is remarkable that you can be surrounded by children who love you and want to spend time with you and yet feel completely alone. It is hard to be in that position, and the guilt is unreal. So what do we do?
King David knew this emotion too, as shown in the Psalm above. David was someone who had it all; fame, power, riches and was loved by all (almost). Yet when facing opposition he felt completely alone. Maybe you can empathise with David. Perhaps you are like so many of us right now feeling the pressure through just trying to live a ‘normal’ life. David’s solution to this emotional crisis is to look to the Lord. He writes, “15 My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare.” It is one thing to hear the words ‘Jesus is with you’, it is another thing entirely to believe them and turn to Him. One of the most important ways of tackling loneliness is choosing to reach out – all the literature agrees on this point. The reality is that often we can suffer in silence, with no-one knowing our struggle and so we must fight against the temptation to withdraw. Instead, we can reach out and re-engage with the world, and if we’re Christians the Church. Thankfully, Jesus knows our secret struggles and He really is with us. But if we are to experience our relationship with Christ, we have to make the effort to talk to Him too. Perhaps this morning you can set aside the time to speak to Him again. It may have been months, but He hasn’t left you – He is ready to listen and to speak.