The cure for loneliness

Published 11:54 pm Friday, November 21, 2014

By Chris Surber

I’m fascinated by the commonality of the broken human condition. We are living in a world starved for love.

When Christina and I show up to any dusty community in Haiti, little barefoot children run to receive hugs. They are hungry for attention. When we counsel people, we find that the root cause of anxiety and unhappiness is often a sense of not being loved.


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I read recently about Jacqueline Samuel and “Snuggery.” It is apparently part of a new trend popping up all over the West Coast, which involves paying for hugs.

In a recent interview with CBS News Samuel said, “We get into bed. We’re both in our pajamas, and we lay next to each other and cuddle,” She goes on to say that the snuggling is regulated by rules of where a person can or can’t touch. It is for men and women and it is kept strictly non-sexual.

I’m not sure what to think about the legality of paid snuggling. It’s clearly not prostitution, but it is a little bizarre. More important, it highlights the quiet desperation present in the souls of people in this curious culture. We have never had more tools to stay connected and yet been so disconnected.

I don’t blame modern technology. It, like most non-living things, is morally benign. It is just a thing. The overuse of technology is not to blame for our loneliness. It’s just like a contrast dye injected into the bloodstream before an MRI. It is a medium which helps identify an ailment.

A surplus of technology has been injected into the bloodstream of Western culture, and it has highlighted the ailment of disconnection from one another and alienation from our Creator.

We have become increasingly aware of the ailment of being alone, even in crowds. Hubert Van Zeller describes it this way: “Essentially, loneliness is the knowledge that one’s fellow human beings are incapable of understanding one’s condition and therefore are incapable of bringing the help most needed.”

It is a kind of poverty of the soul. Rich or poor in this world, if you don’t have a deep sense of being loved, wanted and created on purpose for a purpose, all the paid hugs in the world or quick fixes of entertainment in the universe will not be enough to cure what ails you.

The only cure for loneliness is no longer to be alone. The only thing that can rebuild estrangement between people and alienation from God is the grace and love and mercy showered upon humanity at the cross of Christ. You can buy hugs all day long, but until you are infected by grace, there will be no cure for loneliness.

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (II Corinthians 5:18-19 ESV)

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at