“Yes, Lord” When I’m Lonely
With seven people and a dog occupying our house, I quite often look for ways to get a few minutes of peace and quiet. There are several places in my house that I go to be alone. Sometimes it’s the bathroom. But the little fingers always find their way under the door, so that’s no real escape. I discovered that if I leave the lights off in Ben’s room and go sit in the rocking chair, most of the time the kids don’t think to look for me there. I remember when I told Chris the news that I was pregnant with Ben, there was a person in every single room in my house, so I called him out to the garage to break the news because that was the only private space! Alone time is something I treasure in this wild season of raising young children. But I know there’s truth in the saying “One day you’ll miss this.”
Loneliness rarely has much to do with the number of people around us.
Maybe you are in a house filled with people, feeling incredibly alone. Maybe you’re surrounded by people at work, but you still feel lonely. You might even have a great church family and still feel all alone. Or maybe the opposite is true for you. Maybe you are literally alone most of the time and the loneliness seems too much to bear.
I’m willing to bet that most of us know the truth – we are never alone. The simple fact that God is omnipresent means that He is always with us. His name, Immanuel literally means “God with us”. He is with us. But despite the reality that we are never alone, the feeling that loneliness brings is something that each of us has experienced at one point or another. So when that feeling of loneliness creeps in, when it lingers in our heads and chips away at our spirits, how can we faithfully obey God? How can we say “Yes, Lord” when we feel all alone? Let’s look at some Scripture.
“Good” and “Not so Good”
Think back to the days of Creation recorded in Genesis 1.
Day One: God created light and separated it from darkness.
Day Two: God created the heavens.
Day Three: God created the land and gathered the oceans. God created plants.
Day Four: God created the sun and the moon and the stars.
Day Five: God created the birds and sea animals.
Day Six: God created land animals and man.
Day Seven: God rested.
After each day of creation, God looked at what he had made and saw that it was good. But Genesis 2:18 says that after God created Adam, he saw that it was not good for him to be alone! So he made a helper suitable for him, which was Eve. This is the first time in Scripture that we see that it is not good for man to be alone. Let’s look at Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Two are better than one! God designed us to live in community with each other.
But sometimes we’re still lonely.
A Wider Perspective of Eternity – “with”
We’re not going to look very long at any one teaching of Jesus or any one major event in his life where he specifically addresses loneliness. No, for this lesson we need to step back and look at the overall picture of eternity and the role that Jesus plays in it. We’re going to go to the Gospel of John to broaden our perspectives a bit today. In John 1:1 it says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” A few verses later in John 1:14 we read that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” “The Word” there is God in the person of Jesus Christ. He was with God in the beginning and then he put on skin and came and stayed with us a while.
He didn’t have to do that, you know. God could’ve chosen to stay in heaven while we fumbled around on earth, bound for eternal separation from him in hell. But a few chapters later, John 3:16 tells us that God loved us so much that he sent his one and only son, Jesus, so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. Do you know where eternal life happens? With God. He loves us so much that he wants us to be with Him forever. So He came to earth as Jesus to be with us on earth so that He could be with us in Heaven later and for eternity. This is a God who really really really wants to be with us. It’s not about where we are when we’re with Him – here on earth or in heaven – the point is, He really wants to be with us, no matter where we are!
If you keep reading in John, you’ll see stories about when Jesus called his twelve disciples to follow Him, to walk with Him during His ministry years. You’ll see Him with lots of different people: family, friends, strangers, sinners. He is with them performing miracles and teaching and healing and changing lives. In John 19:25-26 we read that Jesus was with his mother and several other followers as he hung on the cross that day. Of course we also know that when he rose from the dead, he appeared several times to his followers and disciples because he wanted to be with them and show himself to them. Our God is Immanuel, “God with us”.
I really believe that our heads understand this. We know that the Bible teaches that God is with us and we know that as believers, we have the Holy Spirit abiding in us so we are literally never alone. But let’s dig even deeper. Let’s go to the uncomfortable place, the place where we don’t like to admit we’ve been or the place where we don’t want to admit we are now.
Loneliness from Loss
Loneliness almost always comes from loss. Some of us have lost husbands through death or divorce. Some of us have left a home that we loved and moved to a new town. Some of us have battled miscarriage and infertility. Some of us have prodigal children. For some of us, our loss comes because we had hopes and dreams that haven’t been fulfilled – we grieve the loss of what we had hoped for. Think for a moment about what loss you’ve experienced in your life. Can you see any relationship between that loss and any sense of loneliness you feel?
I grew up an Air Force brat. We had lived in eight places by the time I graduated from high school. I suffered a big loss with our last move from Virginia to San Antonio. I missed my friends and my school and my home. I started my tenth grade year at Judson High School, which at the time was the second largest high school in the state of Texas. There were times I had to ride a bus just to change classes. I had met a handful of people at church that summer, but I didn’t see them often and I was so lonely. Every day I would sit outside in the courtyard and eat my lunch by myself because I was scared to death to go in the cafeteria. One day a boy from church came and talked to me at the end of the lunch period. I didn’t feel quite so alone. He came back the next day and the next and the next. He didn’t have any ulterior motives. He didn’t try to get me to change. He just came and talked to me. His friendship meant the world to me because God used him to show me that I was not as alone as I felt. No surprise that this guy is now a missionary in Bulgaria. I will always and forever be thankful for Stephen because he stood with me when I was lonely.
I’ve used this example countless times with teenagers to remind them of the importance of standing with their lonely friends and peers at school. But it’s a good lesson for us as women too. Look out for the lonely ones. See who sits alone. See who might just need someone to talk to to feel less alone. Be that person for someone else. Sometimes, we get the opportunity to be with someone in the same way that God is with us. The ministry of presence is a very important ministry.
What Do I Do?
Now lets talk about what to do with this loneliness. Let’s talk about how to have a “Yes, Lord” attitude in the middle of it.
CHOOSE TO REJECT THE LIES OF SATAN.
- There is something wrong with me.
Psalm 139 tells us that God created you in your mother’s womb and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were created in the image of God for a purpose. There is nothing wrong with how He made you.
- I don’t deserve love.
God loves you so much that He sent His son for you! Romans 8 tells us that there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God. Nothing!
- I cannot change my situation.
The fruit of the Spirit is in you if you are a believer. Because you have fruits like patience and self control and love, you absolutely can change your situation by making different choices and choosing different responses.
CHOOSE TO BELIEVE THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE.
- There is something wrong with me.
Romans 3:23 – Yep, there’s something wrong with you and it’s called SIN. Sin separates us from a holy God so we have to repent (turn away) from our sin and walk toward God. Sin is ugly and will choke the life out of you if you don’t repent.
- I don’t deserve love.
Romans 6:23 – Yep, you do not deserve the love He offers. In fact, there’s not a single thing that you can do to earn His love or His grace or His favor. He offers it freely, even when what we deserve is death.
- I cannot change my situation.
Philippians 2:12-13 – It’s true, you can’t change your situation. But God can. We obey but it is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good pleasure.
A Chosen One
Let’s look back to the Old Testament for some truth about who we are. Check out Isaiah 43. This passage of Scripture was given to the Israelites while they were in exile in Babylon. They had been scattered across the land and things looked pretty grim to them. This is not how you would expect God’s chosen people to live. So He has some absolutely beautiful words for them here in Isaiah 43. Now the cool part is that according to 1 Peter 2:9-10, we are now the chosen ones. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a chosen one. I’m not going to delve into the doctrine of election or start a debate on predestination, but I will say that as believers, we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. The words that God gave Isaiah for the children of Israel are words that we can take to heart and apply to ourselves as believers.
Read Isaiah 43:1-21.
These are God’s Words to you. He is with you. What a precious promise!