How can there be joy in loneliness? It is a form of suffering to long for meaningful relationships and to be left unsatisfied. For example, a dear friend moves thousands of miles away. The desire for marriage and family is left unfulfilled. A church does not feel like a family. A teenage daughter screams, “I hate you!” One person is “de-prioritized” from another person’s life. A bad marriage is lonely whether or not the spouse is physically present. Even in a good marriage, the husband and wife do not connect on every level.
Loneliness has been a part of life since Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit, resulting in the first broken relationship, their relationship with God. Not long afterwards in the narrative of Genesis 3, we see Adam and Eve’s relationship breaking apart as Adam casts the blame for the decision on Eve. From there, the soap opera of Genesis begins, with no shortage of murder, incest, rape, betrayal, and deceit.
Skipping ahead, we see a man locked in prison. His brothers had planned to kill him, but they found it more profitable to sell him into slavery instead. He had served his master faithfully, yet he was falsely accused of rape. He is far away from home, and not a person in Egypt cares whether he lives or dies. There is no one else in prison who believes in his God. There is no fellowship among believers, no small groups or prison ministry. Betrayed by his family and imprisoned in a foreign country, if anyone could be lonely, it would be Joseph. “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” (Genesis 39:21) Continue reading