The absence of familiar things often means feeling alone, but God’s love in Jesus remains sure and certain.
Jonathan P. Bilitz
Would it surprise you to learn that the fastest growing problem faced by college students (especially first-year students) is loneliness? Medical services report that more and more students present symptoms of depression and anxiety because they feel alone. Survey statistics from universities convey that as many as 70 percent of college students say they have gone through bouts of loneliness.
Loneliness in college is certainly not new. But the rate of increase among students has led some to label the issue the “Loneliness Epidemic.” Why? Certainly many factors contribute to its rise. Modern technology has allowed people to be in touch with each other like no other time in history. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can connect hundreds or even thousands! Snapchat streaks promote a daily communication with others. But how many of those relationships go deeper than a surface friendship?
College students have left behind many of the friends made in high school. A new beginning means new relationships need to be cultivated. The pressure of academic success might isolate the student as studying becomes the top priority.
Whatever triggers loneliness, God’s people know that the “father of lies” would like nothing more than to convince us that we are all alone. He wants us to think no one loves us or cares about us. He wants us to focus so much on our troubles that we forget about the One to whom we belong. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God. And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). We are never alone; our Lord promises he is always with us.
So when lonely times hit, you have the greatest relief: Jesus, who already defeated Satan. King David experienced bouts of loneliness. He expressed his anguish in Psalm 25:16: “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” Though he felt alone, David knew where to turn. He knew his hope was in the Lord. Connect with your Lord through his Word when lonely times visit you. He has lavished his love on you and calls you his child.
Consider these ideas when you’re lonely:
- Don’t panic! What you are experiencing is common.Remember that it takes time for something new to feel comfortable.
- Try getting out of your dorm or apartment to meet people.Connect with others through activities and clubs.
- Find opportunities to connect with those students who share the same beliefs as you.Search out the campus ministry at your college or university.
Campus ministry can provide the blessing of connecting you with Christians who are experiencing the same things. Together you will find strength for your faith in the Word of God. You will be encouraged to cast your worries on the One who cares for you. Campus ministry may provide the outlet you need to alleviate loneliness. In his grace, God has provided one hundred years of campus ministry through our church body. (Watch for more information about this anniversary in upcoming issues of Forward in Christ!) Countless students have connected with one another around the promises of God. Campus ministry can provide that for you.
Most of all, remember God says that you are his child. When pangs of loneliness hit, cherish your status. Reflect on the love he has lavished on you. Trust that he will never leave you or forsake you. Because God is faithful, you will never be alone.
Jonathan Bilitz is pastor at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel, Madison, Wisconsin.
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Author: Jonathan P. Bilitz
Volume 106, Number 9
Issue: September 2019
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