Loneliness is a powerful emotion that can destroy us if we all it. We all ecperience it, some more than others. How can we combat it? What can we learn from it? And how are we to react when we face it? This lesson of hope is sure to be a favorite of many.
ROBERT >> Do you feel isolated or separated? Do you feel like you have no friends, that you’re all alone, no one to talk to, to listen to you, to care about you, or no one to share with? I hope you’ll stay tuned as we consider this other problem of the heart, loneliness.
SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love
ROBERT >> There are many in our society today who suffer from loneliness. Maybe it’s an orphan or a single person, a divorcee, a widow; it could be a prisoner or someone who because of their health has become isolated or separated; it may be an aged person, an outcast; or perhaps you’re a newcomer to the neighbor or to your school or to the congregation where you worship, or you’re new on the job. All kinds of people suffer from loneliness. And how may loneliness affect us?
Let’s notice that loneliness not only affects us negatively, but it can affect us also positively. Yes, loneliness can make us tired and weary and depressed. Some have even become suicidal. It can make us bitter and angry and afraid. It can affect our health. It can affect our efficiency in life. But on the other hand, if we deal with it properly, loneliness can also bring us to God. It can help us to reach out to others and it can help us to better understand ourself. So let’s talk for just a few moments together from God’s word how a Christian can deal with loneliness.
Let’s notice first of all today that we need to remember as Christians we never walk alone. I love these words from the book of Joshua in Joshua chapter 1 as God had appointed him to lead his people Israel across the Jordan river into the promised land. They were going to face a mighty enemy. They had a great work to do. Joshua had a tremendous responsibility as the leader of Israel. He needed to know that he was not alone. And so God encouraged him here.
In Joshua 1:5 the Bible says, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not leave you nor forsake you.”
What courage that must have brought to the heart of this one, to know that God himself had promised to be with him and not to leave him.
We read a little bit later on in this same chapter in verse 9 these words, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua needed to know that whatever situation he might find himself in, whatever circumstances might arise, whoever he might face there in the promised land, that God, the Lord God, would be with him, that he would walk with him, that he would never be alone.
These same words are repeated by the Hebrew writer in chapter 13 and verse 5 as a promise for all Christians. “ I’ll never leave you, nor will I in any wise forsake you,” the Lord says. He went on to say, “So with good courage we say, The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what shall man do unto me?”
We don’t have to be afraid, because we’re never alone. God walks with us as we continue to trust in him and look to him for the help that we need. 2 Timothy 4:16-17, some of the very last words written by the apostle Paul, address this very subject. You can imagine if you were an aged man like Paul, you’d been through a great deal of suffering for the cause of Christ, you had received all kinds of persecution, and now you’re a prisoner of Rome, and you know that your life is soon to be taken. What would you do, and how would you feel? Certainly Paul felt lonely as many had left him, there were few that were with him. He said, Only Luke is with me. He was calling for others to come and to stand by his side. But he also knew that his God had not forsaken him, and that even in that hour of death, he would be there to deliver him.
Listen to these words of faith in 2 Timothy 4:16-17. “In my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me; may it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion; and the Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and preserve me for his heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
You see, Paul could look back and see how time after time after time, God had delivered him. And he knew that even in this last hour, God would deliver him. He spoke with great courage and assurance, knowing that even passing through death, he would find a better place on the other side, a better position. He knew that he would be in the arms of God. All of us need to take heart who are Christians, who are trusting in the Lord, who are following after him, to know that God has a better place for us, and that even passing through death, we’re not going to be alone. He’ll be there to meet us on the other side.
Psalm 68:5-6 also helps to comfort our hearts when we feel alone. In fact, there are many passages in the Psalms that would be helpful to us when you’re dealing with these feelings of isolation and separation. And so let me encourage you to read these from day to day. But here’s what the psalmist writes in Psalm 68:5-6. “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in His holy habitation.”
God sets the solitary in families, He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a dry land. You see, though God is high in the heavens, there from where he dwells, he is able to help us. He is able to help the orphan, he is able to help the widow, he is able to help the poor, and he is able to place us with others, to surround us with others so that we’re never alone. I’m so thankful for family and for friends, for brothers and sisters in Christ; and I know that when I lose one, that there are many others that God has brought into my life. We need to be thankful for those that God has given to us and learn to develop those relationships and find strength from those around us. Let’s remember that even when nobody else is there, that God is up above and he’s looking down upon us to bless us in every situation and circumstance of our life. Remember that we never walk alone. There’s something else that I want to encourage you with today, and that’s to try and gather strength from solitude. In those moments when you are alone or when you need to be alone, it is a time when you can find strength from the Lord. Let’s go to Matthew chapter 14. In this passage we’re reading about the life of Jesus Christ while he was upon the earth. And of course Jesus was a very busy man. He was busy preaching and teaching, healing the people, casting out demons, performing great miracles; all of this to try to reach them, to try to turn their hearts back to God, to prepare them for the coming of the savior and his kingdom. Here in Matthew chapter 14, as Jesus had many multitudes around him, there were many things going on. He needed some rest. In fact, he had just gotten news that his dear friend, John the baptizer, who had proclaimed his coming, who had served him well, had not only been imprisoned, but now had been beheaded. His life had been taken from him.
And here’s what the Bible says, Matthew 14:13, “When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. And when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.”
Sometimes it’s good to be alone. Sometimes we need to be alone. Even the Lord Jesus Christ while in the flesh recognized this great need; and so he himself went to a deserted place, tried to get away from the crowds. He needed to renew his heart, to strengthen himself and to find help from the Lord in this difficult time; and so do we. Often it’s in those moments when we lose those who are very dear to us or when tragedies come into our life or into our families that we need that time alone with God, just like Jesus looked for here in Matthew 14:13. And as you read there, the multitudes were still looking for him and coming after him. Jesus would feed them. Five thousand had gathered, and Jesus had them all sit down, and he performed a great miracle there to provide for these who had been following him for so long. But even after that, at the end of the day, in verse 22 the Bible says, “Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. And now when evening came, He was alone there. It was time to send the multitudes away.”
It was time to be alone. So Jesus found a place where he could be alone. He had to go up onto a mountain by himself to pray. We all need to find a place where we can be alone. Sometimes we need to send others away so we can just spend time with God, praying, talking with him. It’s so important that in those moments of silence that we find strength from the Lord.
In Mark 1:35 we see that this was a regular habit of our Lord’s as he would often try to get away by himself at the end of the day or when he was tired or when things were difficult and he needed this special help from God. Here the Bible says, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
Jesus felt a need to get up early before the others so he could be alone, so he could prepare his heart for the day ahead. You and I might need to make that same kind of schedule so that we can find a time to be alone. And what better way to start the day than to start the day alone with God in prayer. We go a little bit further in Matthew 6:6, and we see when Jesus was talking about prayer, he talked about the importance of private prayer, secret prayer. Yes, we need the prayers of the congregation, we need to pray with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We can find great strength in these kinds of public prayers and in shared prayer; but we also need to take time just to get alone by ourself with God.
In Matthew 6:6 Jesus said, “But you, when you pray, go into your room; and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Now of course Jesus in this passage was trying to speak against hypocrisy, the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day who just wanted to be seen by men, who were trying to impress men with their religious nature, saying these prayers in front of others just to let others know how religious they were. But here we see that in private, in the closet, there in that secret place, we can share with God openly and honestly. And it’s not about anybody else, it’s just about us and God. And God rewards that kind of prayer. We’ll find great blessing in just spending some time looking for God’s strength in prayer.
I also want to read to you Psalm 46:10. This is a great Psalm, because it reminds us at the very beginning to take refuge in God, to find strength from him because he’s there for us, and we don’t have to be afraid. And as we go on down in this Psalm, he tells us how to take hold of our spirit, to calm ourselves before God.
Psalm 46:10, the Bible says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
All he wants us to do is to slow down and to just sit still and just concentrate on God, remember who he is, and that he’s there for us. There’s great strength in that kind of solitude, in that kind of silence. And so in your loneliness, remember to be still and know that God is. Isaiah 40:31 tells us how that we can indeed find great strength if we learn to wait on the Lord. I know that those of you who are Christians today, you’re listening to me, and you say you believe in God and you trust God; and yet sometimes I know it’s also very hard for us to wait on the Lord, because he doesn’t always do things the way that maybe we would expect him to do them or in the way that we would want them or desire; and sometimes it looks like God is not acting at all or that he needs to hurry up, and we become impatient with God.
But Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
You see, we need to realize that God is in control, that we can trust him. We need to be patient with God and leave all of our cares and our worries, our frustrations, our ambitions, leave these things with God and trust him to take care of them in his time and in his way. And learning to do that will bring great strength to our heart and to our life.
In James 4:8, the Bible teaches us how to draw near to God. Listen to what James says here.
James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded; lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom; humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
You see, James is telling us that in our solitude, we need to take a look at ourself, we need to bring our sins before God, we need to recognize the awfulness of the evil of this world, and we need to get serious about what’s going on in our life and in the world around us, but to bring all of this before God and to humble ourself before him, under his mighty hand, knowing that he will lift us up at the proper time, that God is going to take care of these things. You draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Don’t forget that great Psalm of old, Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd, and how we learn in that Psalm he’s going to take care of all our needs. And when we become weak or when we try to go away, he’s going to bring us in the right way and he’s going to restore our soul. And even when we walk through those difficult, dark valleys of life, he said I’ll be with you. Ultimately God is going to bless those who follow him and bring them home forever.
But let me also remind you today to learn to live with self. “The second great commandment in the Bible is to love your neighbor as yourself,” Matthew 22:39. This is repeated numerous times in the scripture, in Matthew 19:19, there in Matthew 22:39. And in Romans 13:9, the apostle Paul says really this is the sum of all the law, all the things that God has given us. The commandments about how to treat one another are summed up in this word, to love one another as you love yourself. And so you see implied in that commandment to love yourself. If we truly love ourself, then we’re going to love one another. It’s only as we love ourself that we learn to love others.
Ephesians 5:28 reminds husbands to love their wives as their own bodies. We love ourself. We know how we want to be treated. Let’s treat our wives that way. Let’s treat others that way. You are made in the image of God according to Genesis 1:26-27. You’re very valuable. You’re very important to him. ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God loves you, and he gave his son for you so that you could have eternal life. We need to recognize that we’re valuable in the eyes of God, that we’re loved by God, and that as we love ourself, we’ll be better able to love others. So learn to live with self and to love self. And don’t forget to serve others. That’s why Jesus came, that he might bring salvation to all mankind. I love Philippians the 2nd chapter where the apostle Paul encourages us to have the mind of Christ, a mind of humility and a mind of service.
Listen to these words in Philippians 2 beginning in verse 3. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
And he goes on to describe how the Lord left heaven to become one of us, to die on Calvary’s cross, ultimately to be lifted up in glory. Let’s remember what Jesus did for us, and when we feel alone and isolated and separated, to make the sacrifice that Jesus made, to reach out, to do what we can to serve others, to help them towards heaven. And we hope here at The Truth In Love that you’ll let us know how we can help you towards heaven today. If you don’t know the Lord as your savior, if you don’t know Jesus Christ as the one who came and died for you, who rose again to give you not only the forgiveness of your sins, but the hope of eternal life, then let us know about that. We want to talk to you about him and what you need to do, how you need to trust in him for eternal life and give yourself to him in the waters of baptism, to take hold of his promise when he said in Mark 16:16, He that believes and is baptized will be saved; he that disbelieves will be condemned. We hope that you’ll become a Christian today, that you’ll know what it means to have God in your life every day, every moment, so that you’re never, ever alone.
SINGING>> Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The love of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is best.
Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and he is on the throne
It is enough; earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
and Jesus calls us to heaven’s perfect peace.
SINGING>> Beneath the cross of Jesus, I feign would take my stand,
the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land.
A home within the wilderness,
a rest upon the way from the burning of the noontide heat and the burden of the day.
I take, oh cross, thy shadow for my abiding place.
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of his face.
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss,
my sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.
ROBERT >> I want to thank you for watching our program today, and we would really like to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you’d like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.
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SINGING>> Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes.
Oh, whence for me shall my salvation come, from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord whom heaven and earth hath made.
From every evil shall he keep thy soul, from every sin.
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out, thy coming in.
Above thee watching, he whom we adore shall keep thee henceforth,
yea for evermore.