When Alone

This is a tool for you to use if you lead a Sabbath School (SS) class or small group. It is keyed to the Bible texts used in the current week’s Adult SS Lesson and includes a brief story from current news you can use to introduce the discussion and then a series of discussion questions in a relational pattern designed to build fellowship and spiritual reflection.

Texts: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Philippians 4:11-13; 1 Corinthians 7:25-34; Matthew 19:8; Genesis 37:34; Isaiah 54:5

The issue of loneliness is beginning to be addressed as a serious social concern. The situation is so extreme in the United Kingdom that the UK actually appointed a minister for loneliness. “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life,” Prime Minister Theresa May said. Aristotle Roufanis is one of those. “Even though I had many friends and family there, I felt very isolated.” He discovered that many of his friends felt the same way. “No one admits they’re lonely. It’s easier to admit you have a disease than that you feel isolated.”

Just being around loads of people is not an antidote to loneliness. Roufanis, who has a degree in civil engineering, believes that the way large cities like London are designed exacerbates the loneliness. “Cities are built for efficiency and not necessarily for social interaction,” he says. “The bigger the city, the lonelier we feel. It’s a paradox.” [1]

In what may very well be a first for an Adventist Sabbath School lesson, this week we look at the topic of loneliness. God created humans for fellowship. We are social creatures by God’s design. When we are denied that basic human need for companionship, the feelings of loneliness can expand to include a sense of alienation and rejection. A simple feeling of loneliness can progress to create deep emotional pain. Unfortunately, despite the fact we know that God is always with us, we may still feel lonely, therefore making us feel like spiritual failures as well.

There are several situations that can produce the conditions that develop these feelings of loneliness. Some choose to live singly, but others prefer to be married and raise a family. When that does not happen, for whatever reason, a person can tend to focus on that sense of isolation. The longing for companionship drives home the fact that a person is companionless, which can then deepen the longing for those family connections—and it becomes a depressing cycle.

When relationships fall apart, people can struggle to learn how to live alone again. A divorce can often be as traumatizing as the death of a loved one. When we lose someone through death, we can eventually accept the loss and begin to move forward. With a broken relationship, the person is not only still living, their memory can be a constant reminder of our own sense of inadequacy and rejection. God promises the Holy Spirit as our divine Comforter during our times of loss and grief. We, however, as God’s church have the privilege in these situations to show our faith in action. Helping others deal with loneliness satisfies our own need for companionship.

For Reflection

Connecting: What is one of your favorite social activities that no one else in your class may know about? Write it on a slip of paper and put it into a hat. Each one take out a slip and see if you can guess who wrote the activity on your paper. Then discuss: How well do you really know each other?

Sharing: Why do you think that God’s people, who profess to believe Jesus’ command to love one another, tend to form cliques?

  1. It’s easier to hang out with people who are like-minded so we’re not pulled out of our comfort zones
  2. No one plans to ostracize others, it just happens unconsciously
  3. We can only really connect with just a handful of people—it’s too stressful to try and be friends with a large group
  4. Some personality types socialize better than others
  5. Our cliques protect us from having to deal with unpleasant people
  6. Other:

Applying: How well does your church do fellowship? Can you think of ways in which you can improve the social lives of your church family? Brainstorm new opportunities to socialize together and plan when, where, and how to make these happen.

Valuing: Honestly evaluate your social condition: are you lonely, but in denial about it? If so, what can you do to reach out to others? If you aren’t lonely yourself, pray for God to show you how to help someone else who may be feeling ignored.


Photo by Huy Phan on Unsplash

[1] https://www.wired.com/story/lonely-cities-night-photo-gallery/