“I’m lonely,” wrote Augusten Burroughs in one of his edgy memoirs. “And I’m lonely in some horribly deep way and for a flash of an instant, I can see just how lonely, and how deep this feeling runs.” I’ve seen Burroughs’ quote shared multiple times on social media. Clearly, he’s expressed a feeling many of us share.
Loneliness can be debilitating. The writer of Ecclesiastes states this with honesty: Someone who is alone finds life’s difficulties harder to manage (Ecclesiastes 4:10), is more vulnerable to abuse (Ecclesiastes 4:12), and can feel that his or her life is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 4:7-8). While having a few friends is best (Ecclesiastes 4:12), just one friend can make a difference. Ecclesiastes puts this beautifully: “Two people lying close together can keep each other warm” (Ecclesiastes 4:11).
One of the most touching examples of this I’ve heard is about a woman I’ll call Erica. She was in the depths of depression, feeling isolated and lonely. But she had a friend named Emily. When Erica needed to cry, Emily didn’t stop the tears. When Erica needed to scream, Emily didn’t quiet her down. When Erica needed hope, Emily was ready with an encouraging word.
At her darkest moment, Erica lay curled up on an armchair one afternoon. She’d lost hope, and Emily had no words left. So Emily did the best thing she could do—she climbed into that armchair and hugged her friend. Erica drifted off to sleep. Then Emily did too. And that’s how they stayed for the next two hours—two friends embraced in warm silence. Seven years later, Erica remembers that hug more than anything else.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). And they can also help quell the deep loneliness many of us feel.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Samuel 25:1-42
Read Proverbs 17:17 and consider what it means to be a true friend to someone who is lonely.
Think of a time when a friend or family member was there for you. What did they do? How can you bring God’s love and compassion to a friend today?