WE'RE told that the world's population has passed the five billion mark. Yet this increasing mass is still made up of individuals, many of whom feel agonizingly lonely. Sometimes they may feel no one knows them or cares about them. But this feeling is unnecessary. The great God of all creation is present with each of us to comfort, encourage, and heal. Not one of us is forsaken or forgotten, no matter how far we may feel from the love of God or the love of our fellowman. As Moses told Joshua in the presence of all Israel, ``The Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.''1
And the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: ``May the great Shepherd that `tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,' and binds up the wounds of bleeding hearts, just comfort, encourage, and bless all who mourn.
``Father, we thank Thee that Thy light and Thy love reach earth, open the prison to them that are bound, console the innocent, and throw wide the gates of heaven.''2
The gates of heaven are not inlaid with ocean pearls but with far more precious pearls of spiritualized thought. The kingdom of heaven, Christ Jesus taught, is within, not without. If we feel lonely and afraid, we can be consoled and comforted through spiritually awakened thought, thought that's awake to the truth of God as the one infinite creator of all that exists and of man as the blessed and perfect child of God. As far as lonely people may feel from this truth, it still is true, and even a glimpse of our sonship with God, of our completeness in His care, is the most reliable comfort any of us can know. At its roots, loneliness is a result of the belief that man is a mortal, separated from God, struggling in a harsh material world. This belief may make us lonely by first making us self-centered, a trait that chokes out the selfless service and love that are natural to all of us and are the basis of warm companionship.
But man is not the mortal he appears to be any more than a sunset is the end of the sun. Despite the cruelty of circumstances, we can come through prayer to feel and to experience the truth that man is the blessed and beloved offspring of the one perfect God, lacking nothing. Christ Jesus said, ``Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.''3
At one time I felt very alone in a distant city. But as loneliness tried to creep over my thought like a cold fog, I resisted. I visited a Christian Science Reading Room, where I studied the Bible and writings of Mary Baker Eddy and prayed. Before long I glimpsed my true identity as a child of God, and the dreariness lifted. This is a small experience, but it illustrates the power of spiritually uplifted thought to heal feelings of lone- liness; and this God-derived power is available even under the most severe conditions.
We all have the ability to know our spiritual identity. This ability is not a gift to a limited few but is God's gift to all mankind. We have it as naturally as birds sing and the sun shines.
The spiritual sense of our unity with God is attainable, through prayer, to dissolve feelings of loneliness and to point the way, if necessary, to satisfying companionship. Loneliness need not haunt us. God forever knows and cares for His children.
1Deuteronomy 31:8. 2Miscellaneous Writings, p. 275. 3Matthew 6:8. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me . . . Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways . . . Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Psalms 139: 1,3,5