Psalm 142: 1-4


Introd.                          Loneliness

In America we are in an epidemic of loneliness. Why? busy work and family schedules, huge increase in technology, geographic mobility, lack of social skills and divorce are all stretching the bonds of friendship today.

 In a day when our access to people is greater than any time in history, the lonely are all around us.   You can find them:

            In day care centers and retirement homes

            From. Shy students who feel isolated

            to young adults whose lack of social skills haunt them to senior adults who feel forgotten

            From harried housewives to busy businessmen

The lonely are all around us. It affects both Christian and non Christian alike. 

Surveys  estimate the number of people affected by loneliness at some time in their lives between 25-40%. 

*The Beatles’s song "Eleanor Rigby" describes Father Mackenzie, a lonely priest, wipes the dust from his hands after a funeral, feeling the emptiness of life.. Eleanor Rigby is the lonely church custodian, picks up the rice from the sanctuary floor after people’s wedding and "lives in a dream." These two lost souls have gone their lives almost elbow to elbow, inhabiting the same world without connecting-until one buries the other. Paul McCartney famously sings: “All the lonely people, Where do they all come from, All the lonely people, Where do they belong?”

An area of pain that the church needs to address as we help people find wholeness in their lives.

Definition of loneliness: 

“Loneliness is the anxiety of unrelatedness”  Lloyd Olgive.  It is the absence of meaningful relationships in your environment.  not just being alone – many people prefer that at times – certainly Jesus got away from the crowds by himself

I am talking about loneliness from the perspective of “being left out”.  Feeling that no one cares about me – no one appreciates who I am.

Lets look at Psalm 142:  1-4

David in the midst of his trials felt abandoned.

Chronic loneliness is the anxiety of desperately wanting to be a part of the whole but finding no meaningful way to do that.  Unsure of what to say; how to act or how to integrate into the whole.

We respond to our loneliness in many ways.  We choose food, drugs, anger, change churches, jobs......trying to ease the pain.  Sometimes we take drastic measures.

Columbine High School in Colorado few years ago...Eric Harris/Dylan Kleibold
*Killed 12 students and themselves. Harris kept a diary.... The journal entries flesh out the picture of Harris as a teen who felt excluded by other kids and frustrated with women.
"I hate you people for leaving me out of so many fun things," he wrote. "You people had my phone #, and I asked and all, but no no no no no don’t let the weird looking Eric kid come along."

How does the Bible help us overcome loneliness and develop deep friendships.  Just as in other major issues of life, to overcome loneliness takes discipline and work.

I.  Receive God’s love  John 3:16 

Part of loneliness is the feeling no one cares about you or loves you.  You have heard me talk about God’s love almost every Sunday.  Everyone wants to be loved, accepted and forgiven.  It begins by knowing God loves you.

God created each of you different but special.  He wants you to know you are precious, significant, and you have great value in his sight.  Our self worth is not determined by what others think about us but what Jesus thinks about us. 

Not by what we look like or what kind of job we have; but what does God think about us? He thinks you’re pretty special.

When we understand that, we don’t have to work to wrestle compliments from other people; we just try to please Jesus.  It frees us to be gracious, to not take criticism personally – to remember who we are in God’s sight. 

While the feelings and emotions of loneliness are very real and unavoidable, do NOT allow them to consume you to the point of crowding out your God-given promises of who you are in Christ.

II. Acknowledge your pain  Psa. 142: 1-4
Loneliness isn’t a sin.   Loneliness can be an event but it should not be a lifestyle. People of God no less than Moses, Job, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Mary, & Paul had to confront loneliness at one time or another. Even Jesus, in His earthly ministry, often found Himself rejected and alone.

  Some pious people may tell you different. Give you answer "Christians are never alone. The bible says " lo I am with you, even to the end of the world." While that is absolutely true, the absence of flesh and blood people hurts.
Loneliness happens. Acknowledge the reality of it.

III.                         examine your lifestyle   I Tim. 4:6-7

train yourselves to be godly – once we come to Christ as our Savior, he begins to work on our lifestyle – examine yourself – see if this is right  we all have character flaws that must be dealt with -  am I feeling left out because of the way I am living my life?

are there things in my lifestyle that are preventing me from developing deep friendships?   

Am I overly critical?  Do I have a negative attitude?  Am I bossy with everyone?  Do I talk all the time and forget to listen to others?  Am I dependable?  Am I confidential when told private things? 

Be honest with yourself.

If you want to defeat the giant of loneliness you need to learn how to be positive. No one wants to be around negative people who just want to criticize everything..  You probably know people that can find a dark cloud in every silver lining.  Anxious to share why it won’t work – can’t be done – takes too much effort. You have a limited time on this earth; don’t waste it by complaining about what you don’t have; enjoy what you do have.

Learn to encourage When you offer people sincere encouragement, affirmation and praise, you will have people beating down your door to be your friend. 

Be specific in your affirmation. You’re not trying to inflate someone’s ego with flattery. You’re intentionally thinking of another persons great qualities and telling them how much you appreciate them. So be specific in your affirmation.

Jesus saw people not as they were but as what they could be; he was willing to overlook their flaws in order to see their possibilities. 

Being judgmental is a sure fire way to be lonely.  No one likes a self appointed efficiency expert always pointing out their flaws to them.

learn to develop a giving lifestyle

When we look at the life of Jesus, it was centered around not what others could do for him but what he could give to others around him. He went into every relationship with the thought of what I can do for them?

            Gave honor to his parents

            Gave dedication to his work

            Gave loyalty to his friends

            Gave love to the unlovely

            Gave hope to the discouraged

            Gave life to all who would receive it.

When you see people, do you see them as to what you can get from the relationship or what you can give to the relationship.  Lonely people are takers; fulfilled people are givers.

But, as we are prone to do, we often want our friendships to centre on us. Again and again we seek to get our emotional needs met, our ego stroked, our psychological demands fulfilled. And over and over we find ourselves lonely and disappointed.

IV.  conquer loneliness with community  Col. 3:15-17

Scripture plainly tells us that the local church exists in order serve and glorify Christ through encouraging and building up one another. And so the point here is this. The quality of your friendships will be determined by what holds them together.

Society has a way of weeding people out:  not chosen to be a cheerleader; not good enough to be a player in the band; not qualified for this job   backyard barbeques not front porches  locked doors   gated communities 

society says:  you have to prove yourself to be accepted.

The church has a way of bringing people in.

Jesus says:  come unto me all of you who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest.

In the church we must rediscover the sense of community – worship services are not just the mingling of individuals but the gathering of the family. In a nation which puts a premium on the individual, the church has always emphasized the whole.  The body   the family 

Christian individualism is an oxymoron.

God wants us to think, evaluate, and have opinions, be wiling to dialogue about our differences but in the end, having done all that God expects us to bind together as the family of God for the common good.

If the family is operating at peak efficiency there should be no reason to remain lonely.  We can’t program that – it is a grass roots movement – each one has to take responsibility for your own relationships. 

Isaiah 43:18
Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?