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Loneliness has been defined as “a chronic distressful mental state whereby an individual feels estranged from or rejected by peers and is starved for the emotional intimacy found in relationships and mutual activity.” (See Endnote 1) Frequently this subjective experience stems from a change in a living situation, the loss of a spouse through death or divorce, or the onset of a disability.
(Endnote 2) For many singles, the prospect of growing old with no one to provide for them fuels this mental state; most married individuals have children and grandchildren who can and will care for them, not to mention the joy that comes from rocking children to sleep or being entertained by grandchildren.
How did this “prophet of loneliness” continue to live life, let alone continue to be obedient to the Lord? ” Gandalf replies, “Such questions cannot be answered.
Thankfully, the book of Jeremiah provides a wonderful glimpse into the life of this Old Testament saint. You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess; not for power or wisdom, at any rate.
Prophesying from the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign (627 b.c.) until shortly after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 b.c., his forty-year ministry was marked by opponents’ attempts to silence him by means of arrests, trials, beatings, imprisonments, and even assassination plots (e.g., Jer. Throughout the book, the prophet lamented to God and even called down judgment on the opposition (e.g., –20; –12) and earned his title, the “weeping prophet” (see 9:1; ; ).
In fact, I now value my singleness and the times when I can steal away to think, meditate, and unwind after a day spent surrounded by and giving to people.
Instead of defining my existence by marriage and children, I utilize events and accomplishments.
This “stiff-arm” toward relationships and an air of independence buffer any appearances of vulnerability.
In recent years, researchers have demonstrated that loneliness can even alter cardiac function, disrupt sleeping patterns, cause higher blood pressure, and diminish ability to fight diseases.
(Endnote 3) Jeremiah: A Perfect Model Few biblical characters had more reason to be lonely than the prophet Jeremiah.
Lord, I feel so isolated and alone.” These words were lifted from the journal written during my first year of doctoral studies in Scotland.