Facing The Giant Of Loneliness

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Facing The Giant Of Loneliness

While serving at the Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Ashland, we had entered into a building campaign. The church was asking God for $1.2 million dollars to construct a new classroom building for our growing Christian School. Paul Thompson, a friend of the church, came to Brother “Chuck” and said, “If I were to contribute $1 million to your building campaign, do you think the church could raise the rest?” There was a reason for Paul’s benevolence. He had been watching the life of Brother “Chuck” since he himself was in high school. “Chuck” was the manager of the basketball team that Paul had coached. On one occasion, “Chuck” refused to travel with the team, because of a game that had been scheduled on a Wednesday night. “Chuck” said, “My mother will not allow me to attend school functions on a Wednesday night. Wednesday is a church night.” One of Paul’s assistants said, “If he can’t go with us, let’s get rid of him.” Paul responded, “No, since he’s a Christian we will be able to trust him. We’re not going to get rid of him.” He had told brother “Chuck”, as he wrote out his million dollar check, “I’ve been watching your life for years. I believe you are the real McCoy. I want to give to the school, and I want you to baptize me.” Paul not only gave to the Christian School, but he gave to missions. He gave $13,000 to help Brother Harold Cathy build a seminary in Uganda. I wrote the check, and Paul signed it. Paul was a very benevolent man, but Paul was a very lonely man. His wife had died, and Paul sadly lived all alone in the latter days of his life.

It is not good for the man to be alone. Genesis 2:18

There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and us from them.
Philip Zimbardo

Max Lucado wrote about walking through a cemetery and coming across the tombstone of one Grace Llewellen Smith. No date of birth or death listed; no facts about her life or work or interests, other than the names of her two husbands. But here is her epitaph:

Sleeps, but rests not.
Loved, but was loved not.
Tried to please, but pleased not.
Died as she lived—alone.

Max wondered to himself, “What had broken her heart?” I think I know why, she “Died as she lived—alone.”

Exploring Loneliness

One is a lonely number

O God, the walls are so silent…there is no one around.
Ann Kiemel

I am talking about the loneliness of the single life. Going home to an empty house. Dinner for one. Watching TV all alone.

no one stands up for me; there is no refuge for me; no one cares about me. Psalm 142:4

Two is a lonely number

I will make a helper as his complement. Genesis 2:18

A man and a wife sharing a life together, but that’s not always the way it is. Sometimes married partners become like ships passing in the night. Our work, our occupations, keep us so busy that we fail to provide companionship. One wife said, “I try not to nag. I try not to think about the emptiness. But, I am so lonely.”

Two minus one is a lonely number

I am talking about losing a marriage partner. The one whom you came to depend upon. The one you shared experiences with…eating at restaurants, picking out furniture, listening to music. When they left – a part of you left, and it left you lonely. It might be death. It might be divorce. I think in many ways divorce is worse. It is worse because it leaves behind feelings of guilt, rejection, failure, unfinished business, and even bitterness. Then, on top of all these is loneliness.

The age of a senior adult can be a lonely number

We say, “Pray for those in Assisted-Living, and those in the nursing homes.” I am glad that some in our church puts shoe leather to their prayers, and they go visit. Why? Because so many of these our senior adults are so very lonely. That dreaded time in our lives when no one needs us anymore. No one seems to remember us. No one seems to understand. No one seems to really care. So many seniors will say to me when I visit, “I don’t know why God is leaving me here. I don’t know why He doesn’t just take me home.”

Loneliness is not always a number. Sometimes we are lonely when we suffer. Physical problems or emotional problems isolate us from others. We all know or have family members who suffer because of some physical or emotional problem, and they sometimes feel all alone. Sometimes we are lonely when we suffer.

God desires a relationship with you that is real and personal. Dr. Henry Blackaby

Sometimes we are lonely when we serve. Serving on the mission field, struggling with the language and the culture, it can be extremely lonely. Serving in leadership can be extremely lonely. The one who walks out front must turn his back on all those that walk behind him. It’s lonely – it comes with the territory.

Why did God create the man to be alone? Why did He wait to form the woman later? Was God trying to tell us something about Himself? If God said that it is not good that the man be alone, could God have been implying that it would not be good for Him to be alone? We were created for relationship. God wants a relationship with Him. He wants us to choose to have a relationship with Him.

Examples Of Loneliness

King David was lonely

David knew what it meant to be lonely. He was forced to hide out in caves. He was hunted and despised.

my days vanish like smoke…I am like a desert owl…I am like a solitary bird on a roof Psalm 102:3, 6-7

God gives the lonely a home. Psalm 68:6

When you are lonely, I recommend to you the Psalms. When loneliness overcomes you, you’ll find a human friend who understands in David.

Jeremiah the prophet was lonely

Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet.” He wept over the fallen state of Jerusalem. Jeremiah was told to preach although no one would listen or apply his sermons. Just think how difficult that would be…to preach, knowing that everyone is going to ignore you. Jeremiah agonized in his loneliness.

If only I had a traveler’s lodging place in the wilderness, I would abandon my people and depart from them, for they are all adulterers, a solemn assembly of treacherous people. Jeremiah 9:2

“If I could find a cheap motel in the desert, I’d check in and never check out.” Think of the alienation he must have felt! Being a prophet is a lonely experience!

I never will forget when surrendering to preach, how a wise deacon took me aside and said, “It’s a very lonely life.”

The Apostle Paul was a lonely man

The Apostle Paul was the founder of countless churches. The mind behind the book of Romans (we take much of our theology from the book of Romans). He spoke several languages. He knew everybody. And yet Paul experienced a deep state of loneliness (2 Timothy 4:9-11, 16). Perhaps Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was loneliness. Being lonely is not a sin. But loneliness, would be a sin if we allow it to mess up our lives. Loneliness should never possess us.

When I first graduated from EKU with a degree in Agriculture I began looking for my first job. I quickly found one working for Southern States. My first assignment was working in Spencer, WV. It was a great job and I wasn’t lonely…during the day. However at night it was lonely. I was in WV all by myself. I was lonely.

Escaping Loneliness

We must first acknowledge our loneliness

This is called being honest with your feelings. Say to yourself, “Loneliness is real, and loneliness is painful.” Loneliness is not a weakness. When a Christian is asked, “Are you lonely?” Christians will often offer a pious platitude. They will often respond, “Jesus told us He would never leave nor forsake us.”

We need encouragement, not sermonizing, and we need clear-eyed acknowledgment of the situation, not sanctified gloss that pushes us toward saying, “I see I must not admit my pain because, after all, I am a Christian. I’ll just have to cover it up. Jesus is with me, so I suppose I have no right to feel lonely even for a moment.” David Jeremiah

Listen, stop the cover up! Just because you are a Christian does not make you immune from being lonely. You are lonely because you are human. Can you admit today that you are human, and as a human you are lonely? Acknowledge it.

We must accept God’s provision for loneliness

When something is not working properly, consult the owner’s manual. When things are not going right in our lives we must consult the Maker. You cannot address this problem and be estranged from your Maker. All of us need the inner strength that comes from knowing Him. Bottom line, if we don’t know Jesus very little can be done to overcome loneliness.

Not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

If you’re lonely, give your life to Christ and attend church!

We must allow God’s Word to fill our minds

There are so many wonderful passages that deal with loneliness.

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord cares for me. Psalm 27:10

for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Hebrews 13:5-6

If you’re lonely, go to God’s Word first. Someone said, “When you go to the Word you should run and not walk.”

We must activate a network of Christian friends

But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

Getting things right vertically so things might be right horizontally.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: Proverbs 18:24

It’s hard to love a face in the crowd, “step up, step up and identify yourself”. You must not linger in the background any longer. We have said “happiness is a choice.” We said, “fear is a choice.” We are repeating the same today about loneliness, “loneliness is a choice.”

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Alone we are limited. Together we can change the world.

Conclusion

My dad’s company had a reunion in Ashland some years ago, and they told a story about him that was never shared with us. Evidently, they had a buddy wounded on the battle field that was encouraging my dad and another friend to move on without him. They refused to advance without him. They managed to get their friend into a foxhole. They said that my dad took his rifle, and placed a helmet on the bayonet portion of his gun. He began to bounce the helmet up and down on the end of the bayonet. They were spotted by a friendly American tank. The tank came and delivered the wounded soldier to safety up through the belly of the tank. As they told the story, there was not a dry eye in the house. They reflected on how much they needed and relied on each other.

In this life I have found, we need Jesus, and we need each other. It is just the way God made us. There’s a giant in the land. It is the giant of loneliness. The good news, as far as God is concerned, it’s just a grasshopper.

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