I’ve always found that there’s nothing quite like riddles to get the gears in your mind grinding.
Here’s an easy one to start us off.
Others can have me, but I cannot be shared.
What am I?
If you haven’t quite worked it out, the answer’s in the title. That’s right. It’s loneliness.
And, for many of us, loneliness is much less a riddle in life than something unfortunately familiar.
Loneliness: A Reality
The term ‘FOMO’ (Fear of Missing Out) is one that I’ve only learnt quite recently, but I have to admit that I’m pretty familiar with the feeling itself. The fear of being left out or excluded ties in closely with the fear of loneliness. After all, loneliness is quite literally the opposite of what we hold dear: family, friends and community.
This problem of loneliness has only increased with the recent COVID crisis keeping us all stranded at home, and even with the development of social media and other messaging services, loneliness still lurks in our lives.
You don’t even have to be alone to feel lonely – in fact, the greatest loneliness can be felt even when you are in the midst of a thousand others.
After all, loneliness is more than just a feeling. We’ve all experienced firsthand its crippling effect, trapping us in a cage accompanied only by fear, helplessness, meaninglessness, and sadness.
Loneliness: An Explanation
Here’s another riddle. Why do we feel lonely?
If we want to find the answer, we’ll have to flip our Bibles all the way to the very first book.
When we read Genesis, it’s clear from the start that humans were never created to be solitary beings. We read that Adam was the first man to be created, but then God stated, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18). This led to the subsequent creation of Eve, the first woman. From the moment God breathed life into Adam, Adam had never been lonely – even before Eve’s creation, Adam was with God. Humans enjoyed God’s fulfilling presence, as both Creator and friend and in this fulfilment, enjoyed each other’s presence in perfect love.
To be lonely is an unwelcome experience, and it never was meant not to be.
If we weren’t created to be lonely, how should we answer the original question?
I’ll give you a clue. Three letters, starting with s and ending with n.
Got the answer yet? It’s sin.
Only a few pages after we read of this perfect world untouched by loneliness, it’s been broken.
From the moment that humans chose to turn their back on God, thinking they knew better than their own Creator, something changed in each of their relationships. Something broke.
Sin had destroyed two things. The first is the relationship between us and other humans, whether that be friends, family or even spouses. Though we may love one another, we still hurt each other; we cannot fully fill each other’s needs, we lash out at each other, and we ultimately leave each other.
However, the second consequence is far more dire. Our friendship with God has been broken. Without God, we cannot help but feel hopeless because a life without God is a life without our Creator. It’s a life without purpose. It’s a life of loneliness.
Loneliness: A Question
But what if I were to tell you a story that’s quite similar, yet startingly different?
What if I were to tell you about someone who enjoyed a state of perfect happiness yet decided to leave all of it behind?
From the loving embrace of His Father to a life amidst the grime and muck of a hostile sin-stained world? From blissful satisfaction to being “despised and rejected by mankind”?
To be left by your closest friends as the world turns against you – friends who had so passionately promised only hours ago, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”
Dying humiliated and scorned, punished for crimes you never committed. And, in the moment that you needed Him most, your own Father turns away from you.
All for people who had ruined their own lives by rebelling, and turning away from all the good you had given – just for their illusions of happiness.
Now, let me ask you my hardest riddle yet.
What could ever compel someone to go through all this?
The answer’s even more baffling than the question itself.
Love for His Father, and love for us.
As Christians, we’re invited to enjoy and grow a relationship with God for ourselves.
Unlike in the Old Testament, where, due to our sin, a priest had to intercede on our behalf to talk to God, the sacrifice of Christ has completely bulldozed this barrier down.
I can’t even start to wrap my head around this concept, but it’s a wonderful truth we’re given. To be able to talk to God one on one and to be able to trust in His unconditional love and friendship completely.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the end of ever feeling lonely again. We’ll still be hurt by the sin-stained world around us, even by those who care and love us. What it does mean, however, is the assurance of a Father and Friend, Creator and Carer, who promises:
- “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
- “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
- “I will be with you.” (Exodus 3:12)
There’s so much more to discover and experience for yourself – all in His very Word.
Before I finish, let me ask you one final riddle.
What’s a life without loneliness like?
I pray that you may discover the answer for yourself in your own budding relationship with God.
Elaine (Anggi) Tambunan (14) is the editor and one of the many teens that write in RE Generation-Z. Through her articles, she aspires to remind more teens to live lives as lights in the world. She can be easily identified with a spectacled face buried in a thick novel or doodling.