Sermon quotes on loneliness

Kay Arthur

In any trial, in any bitter situation, you are not alone, you are not helpless, you are not a victim. You have a tree, a cross, shown to you by the Sovereign God of Calvary. Whatever the trial or temptation, it is not more than you can bear. It is bearable. It can be handled. You can know as Joseph knew, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

Augustine of Hippo

God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies grey and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to Your honour and glory.

Works and Biography

Wendell Berry

People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.

The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

Wendell Berry

Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.

A Place on Earth

G.K. Chesterton

There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.

Dorothy Day

We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”

The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist

Emily Dickinson

The soul selects her own society,

Then shuts the door;

On her divine majority,

Obtrude no more.

“The Soul Selects Her Own Society,” in A Pocket Book of Modern Verse, edited by Oscar Williams, Washington Square Press.

Philip K. Dick

“I’m not much but I’m all I have.”

Martian Time-Slip

Elisabeth Elliot

Loneliness is a wilderness, but through receiving it as a gift, accepting it from the hand of God, and offering it back to him with thanksgiving, it may become a pathway to holiness, to glory and to God himself.

Elisabeth Elliot

Loneliness comes over us sometimes as a sudden tide. It is one of the terms of our humanness, and, in a sense, therefore, incurable. Yet I have found peace in my loneliest times not only through acceptance of the situation, but through making it an offering to God, who can transfigure it into something for the good of others.

Richard J. Foster

Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment.

Dag Hammarskjöld

Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.

David Kidd

Deep within there is a glorious and terrible empty space – loneliness. It is out of sight, pushing us to our best and to our worst. Behind every effort to make a friend – Behind ambition – Behind pride – Behind gossip – Behind memories of your mother’s kitchen – Loneliness. We were created with the space carefully planted in our hearts. God created us with the loneliness that moves the heart to others, the loneliness that moves the heart at last to God. Is it what moves us to become whole.

Lois Lowry

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

The Giver

Brennan Manning

Jesus has journeyed to the far reaches of loneliness.

The Ragamuffin Gospel

Paul Matthies

The wilderness is that season of our lives where God, through our loneliness, teaches us that his will is to do something in us, not merely do something for us. That is, by walking by faith and not by sight, he works in us a stronger faith, leading to a deeper worship that results in a greater joy.

Thomas Merton

The man who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much he may surround himself with people. But the man who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with his own loneliness, and to prefer its reality to the illusion of merely natural companionship, comes to know the invisible companionship of God. Such a one is alone with God in all places, and he alone truly enjoys the companionship of other men, because he loves them in God in Whom their presence is not tiresome, and because of Whom his own love for them can never know satiety.”

No Man Is an Island

Mother Teresa

The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.

Henri Nouwen

Practically every human being . . . has experienced that strange inner gnawing, that mental hunger, that unsettling unrest that makes us say, ‘I feel lonely.’ Loneliness is one of the most universal experiences.

Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, Image Books.

Henri J.M. Nouwen

To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it it is the movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit,l from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.”

Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, Image Books.

Henri J. M. Nouwen

If you feel a great loneliness and a deep longing for human contact, you have to be extremely discerning…and ask yourself whether this situation is truly God given. Because where God wants you to be, God holds you safe and gives you peace, even when there is pain. To live a disciplined life is to live in such a way that you want only to be where God is with you. The more deeply you live your spiritual life, the easier it will be to discern the difference between living with God and living without God, and the easier it will be to move away from the places where God is no longer with you.

Richard Rohr

The greatest dis-ease facing humanity right now is our profound and painful sense of disconnection.

The Divine Dance: The Trinity & Your Transformation, Whitaker House, 2016, 39.

Charles Spurgeon

Some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude. But believers are not compared to bears or lions or other animals that wander alone. Those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect, that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks, and so do God’s people.

John Steinbeck

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

Of Mice and Men

Paul Tillich

Our language has wisely sensed these two sides of man’s being alone. It has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.

The Eternal Now

Vincent Van Gogh

A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke” 

Kurt Vonnegut

 “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”

Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage

David Foster Wallace

Lonely people tend, rather, to be lonely because they decline to bear the psychic costs of being around other humans. They are allergic to people. People affect them too strongly.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments

Tennessee Williams

“When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone.”

Camino Real

Ronald Rolheiser

No relationship, however deep and intimate, can ever fully take our loneliness from us.

The Restless Heart, The Crown Publishing Group. 2004, p.18.

Karl Rahner

In the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable, we come to realize that, in this life, all symphonies must remain unfinished.

Honoré De Balzac

“Man has a horror of aloneness, and of all kinds of aloneness, moral aloneness is the most terrible.”

The Inventor’s Suffering

Vivek Murthy

During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.

Harvard Business Review

Robert Nisbet

[Alienation is] “the state of mind that can find a social order remote, incomprehensible, or fraudulent.

The Quest for Community, ICS Press, 1990, p.xxiii.

Edith Hamilton

Pain is the most individualizing thing on earth. It is true that it is the great common bond as well, but that realization comes only when it is over. To suffer is to be alone. To watch another suffer is to know the barrier that shuts each of us away by himself. Only individuals can suffer.

Carl Jung

Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.

Shams al-Din Hafiz

Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.

Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you,

As few human or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight

Has made my eyes soft,

My voice, so tender,

My need for God,

Absolutely clear.

Dag Hammarskjöld

The lusts of the flesh reveal the loneliness of the soul.

John Templeton

You cannot be lonely if you help the lonely.

BBC News

An estimated half of people aged 75 and over live alone—about two million people across England—with many saying they can go days, even weeks, with no social interaction at all.

Brian Fikkert and Kelly M. Kapic

Harvard Professor Robert Putnam once lamented that Americans were “bowling alone;” increasingly, we’re also eating alone, as nobody is home for dinner.

Becoming Whole: Why the Opposite of Poverty Isn’t the American Dream, Moody Publishers, 2019.

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