Minister of Loneliness

It was the summer of 2021. I hadn’t picked up on the news that Japan’s prime minister had appointed a Minister of Loneliness. (Apparently the UK had done that a couple of years before.)

Immediately, this “Psalm 139” post came to mind. That event happened in the 1990s, with a young Japanese woman sort of wishing that Psalm 139 was true. In which case, she said, she’d “never be lonely again.” Also couldn’t help thinking of Japan’s hikikomori phenomenon (extreme social withdrawal, as in not coming out of the room at all). News in August 2023 reported nearly 1.5 million cases in that country.

Before Jesus was born, it was announced that he would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). And when Jesus left the earth, he said, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you’” (Hebrews 13:5, quoting Deuteronomy 31:6). The Lord has clarified that same truth to believers in general and also to various individuals through history. For example, encouraging Joshua: “The Lord … will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Interestingly, a Japanese student in a 2023 homestay in the US attended the Bible study that was part of the program, and reported: “My impression of Christianity has become positive as a result of the Bible studies. I saw that every Christian I met didn’t seem to have inner loneliness, and I felt envious that they were able to give so much love toward others because they know God’s love.”

As we talk with people—from any country—who are feeling loneliness and related emotions, we should not forget how badly they need to know the power behind the Lord’s presence and promises. And while we’re telling them … well, it couldn’t hurt to tell prime ministers and other leaders as well.

Lord Almighty: Minister of Loneliness.


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