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342 – Living through Loneliness

Comments Off on 342 – Living through Loneliness 21 March 2014

Who are your trusted friends? Some people find those in their churches, some in social groups, some in recreational groups. Some people find them in support groups. Some people have no “close” friends. They are hidden away in a self-imposed seclusion that leads to defeat and depression. Their basic human needs of affection, affirmation, and acceptance are not met. In times of crisis it is very evident whether or not a person has a friend to whom they will turn. I have stood at the gravesides of people where I was the only one who appeared to remember their life. I did a funeral for a 5 day old perfectly formed child who was birthed and thrown into a dumpster to die. I ministered with an 85 year old man who had no survivors and no friends who cared. So, I have seen the pains of loneliness and I know that in times of deep need one who is alone suffers most intensely. Loneliness is caused by things like the death of a spouse, divorce that was unanticipated, rejection of a friend for an unknown reason, rejection for following Christ, rejection of one’s peer group, relocating to a new community. We will spend a few lines looking at a passage in the Bible that helps us learn to live through loneliness. It has to do with the advantages of building significant relationships without which loneliness will overcome us.

The benefits of having healthy relationships are:

1. we can be much more productive – One person cannot do as much as two working together can do. We talk about “two heads being better than one.” Solomon’s commentary on that in Ecclesiastes is, “Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better” (Eccl. 4:9 LB). When I was in high school I worked part time for a moving business. I remember hearing one employee there say, “I need four hands.” He was saying that  he had more than one man could do. We can add to the level of our productivity and make life simpler if we develop meaningful relationships with those who will help us. We are wise to develop some relationship that is meaningful to us. Perhaps in a church family we will find one! Be careful to choose this person or persons carefully. Don’t choose judgmental, mean spirited people. Don’t choose an overwhelmed person. Choose mature, gracious, merciful, loving people.

2. you can be more aptly picked up when you are down – I witness good people who are down physically, living alone, emotionally down, spiritually down. Some are living with people around them, even married but feel alone! One who lives alone or who has distanced himself or herself from others, even those who should be close, becomes vulnerable. I have learned through years of ministry with those who are down, for whatever reason, that there is nothing like a warm embrace to lift one’s spirits and encourage a sufferer. Solomon said, “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Eccl. 4:10 NIV). We need to make plans to get involved with trustworthy people with whom we can become vulnerable. We must reach out and risk cautiously to overcome the fear of rejection. We must ourselves in helping others and see how God opens the door to a friend who will be there to help us up when we are down.

3. you will be picked up emotionally – This truth has to do with both material and emotional needs. It is not just that we can warm each other by physical closeness. Closeness has many varieties. It is alright to develop a healthy dependence on those who we trust, love, and have confidence in. It is a good motivator to develop meaningful friendships when we learn this advantage. “Also, on a cold night, two under the same blanket gain warmth from each other, but how can one be warm alone?” (Eccl. 4:11 LB). WE may find our most valuable friend and helper nearer to us than we think. We think we have to get up and go off somewhere to find God’s provision of a meaningful friend. Oftentimes God has put them right in the circumference of our present lives. We need to learn to look around and begin to show love and care for others, and not be surprised if God surfaces a friend as we go!

4. you will be partnering with God and another – There are many foes in our contemporary society: Satan, humanism, selfishness, greed, governmental dependence, self-dependence. The list is endless. But, we are victors in Christ. The thing we need to learn is that God has provided for us to have a significant other and Him to partner in the victory. We do not have to go it alone! I have often quoted this verse when doing pre-marital counseling with those anticipating marriage. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Eccl. 4:12 NIV). One strand of string is easily broken. Two strands, while a bit harder, are also broken. But, three strands (a couple and Christ) are unbreakable. This principle works in other relationships as well. God intends for us to form lasting and powerful relationships with others, and Him, and we can prevail no matter what because of them.

We must not isolate ourselves when we are down and feeling helpless and hopeless and defeated. That is the time to get up, clean up, and come out in search of fellowship and a need-meeting relationship that honors God and with whom He can partner with us.

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