Befriending Loneliness – Devotional

It is not easy for some people, including me, to speak openly about loneliness, so they remain silently lonely for loved ones, friends, the good old days. They keep loneliness to themselves as if it is shameful or contagious. After all, loneliness has been declared an epidemic, a kind of spiritual virus that needs to be cured or avoided. But loneliness remains.

I lie awake; I am like a lonely bird on the housetop. – Psalm 102:7 (NRSVUE)

The Bible is, in part, a testament of loneliness: a source of help, hope, and identification. In the beginning, one might imagine, God was lonely and created humankind in God’s own image for companionship. Many of us also want to see ourselves reflected in those we created. Adam and Eve were likely lonely for Eden after their eviction, as are so many people today, longing for a safe and secure home. Eve and Adam must have been lonely for their child. Was Cain lonely for his brother? I am lonely for my daughter who died quite young in a sudden and tragic way. My son is lonely for his sister. Noah, afloat on a stinky boat, may have been lonely for his neighbors on whom he closed the gate. Imagine the loneliness of Jesus on a cross saying, “Why have you forsaken me?”

The Bible befriends us in our loneliness so we may be companion to the loneliness in others. Loneliness loves company. Enter the sad and lonely songs of Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, Billie Holiday, Bach, the Beatles and many others to soothe our loneliness. Enter the writings of Dorothy Day, Hildegard of Bingen, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others to heal our loneliness.

Loneliness—and our response to it—can contribute to the making of a sturdy, welcoming home in a garden, an ark, a desert, a cross, and a human heart.


God of many holy names, thank you for all the blessings, including loneliness, embedded in almost everything. And thank you for accepting my friend request. Amen.

About the Author

Dwight Lee Wolter is pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, NY, and the author of The Gospel of Loneliness, published by The Pilgrim Press.