Victory Over Loneliness
“I'm like a pelican in the wilderness,
I'm like an owl of the desert.
I watch and am as a sparrow alone on the housetop.
The psalmist who wrote these words is describing a problem many are living with: loneliness.
A sparrow alone on the rooftop—who knows, who cares? Insignificant little bird, so small, so unnoticed, can you imagine how a sparrow would feel if it could think and didn't know that “not a sparrow falls” but God knows about it? Alone on the rooftop, but no one can even see him.
Many people feel exactly like that sparrow.
We’re not talking about solitude or isolation. Solitude is good. We need to get alone. You can be alone without being lonely. Jesus would often withdraw to the wilderness to get alone.
We’re talking about loneliness, and in a series this month on radio we’re dealing with handling our emotions before our emotions handle us. Loneliness is one of the most common.
Paul Tournier, the noted Swiss psychiatrist, said, “Loneliness is the most devastating malady of this age.” That's a pretty firm statement. The great playwright Thomas Wolfe said, “Don't think of loneliness as some curious abstraction or rare phenomenon. Loneliness is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.” That is, it's coming, and we can't stop it. Noted historian H. G. Wells, one the greatest intellects of his century, said when he was 6I am very lonely.”
It’s not just the little widow alone in her cottage or apartment who’s lonely. The rich and famous are lonely. A former United States President talked about the loneliness of the Presidency. 70s rock star Janis Joplin had the world at her feet, but just before she took her life with an overdose of heroin in a Los Angles apartment, she said to her friend, “After I come off the stage, all I do is sit around and watch television. I am so very lonely.”
You can be lonely in a crowd. Henry David Thoreau said, “A city is a place where hundreds of people are lonely together.” Sometimes crowds only enhance the loneliness. In every Sunday morning congregation, there are some very lonely people.
People who are lonely look at others who seem to be so happy and have friends and fellowship and families. They sit in a restaurant and look across at those people. They walk the streets past homes and think about the people in them. People are looking for someone to recognize them. They feel like a pelican in the wilderness, an owl in the desert, a sparrow on a rooftop.
A Destructive Force
In a survey of heart attack victims, 50% percent were feeling depressed and lonely when they had the attack. In another study, 80% of those seeking help from a psychiatrist did so primarily because of loneliness. Anyone who’s dealt with those who are suicidal know they feel deep loneliness: “No one knows, no one cares, no one understands.” It may not actually be true, but that's how they see it. Many become alcoholics or overeat or can’t eat or sleep due to loneliness. God said from the beginning, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Loneliness comes from—
1. Rejection. Many people have tried to have friends, but they’ve been rejected. Maybe they’ve been ignored, put down, and their emotions are burned out. They have a deep inner wound. It hasn’t healed and they don't have what it takes to try again. They won’t expose themselves to more hurt.
Mark Twain said that if a cat sits on a hot stove, he won’t sit on a hot stove again. In fact, he won’t sit on any stove again. Some who’ve been burned won’t take a chance on any relationship again.
2. Insecurity. They have no sense of self-worth. They’ve never really accepted themselves and don't believe anyone else can accept them. Rather than building bridges, subconsciously they build walls and close themselves in.
3. Sorrow, tragedy and loss. Some, through no fault of their own, have gone through deep loss. They lose perspective. They feel no one really cares or understands, and nothing makes sense to them. Job was one of these. He lamented in chapter 19,
13 He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.
14 My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.
15 They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight….
18 Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spoke against me.
19 All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.
Job had gone through such sorrow, such grieving, he said, “Leave me alone. All my days are vanity. Nothing makes sense.” He had turned inward; his sorrow set a prism of icicles around him.
Loneliness makes you feel cut off, unnoticed, unloved, uncared for, unneeded, maybe even unnecessary.
Everyone has three basic psychological and spiritual needs:
If you have no one to meet those needs, no matter how many people are around, how much money you have, or what position you occupy, you are lonely.
A Defeated Foe
The answer to your lonelines is Jesus. I’m not being simplistic. Jesus alone is the answer to loneliness and your 3 basic needs, above.
1. Someone to love and share intimately with. That's Jesus. You say, “But I need someone real.” That's your problem right there. He is real. “I need someone here now.” He is here now. He said “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5. Jesus is as real to me as Joyce is, and He's always near. I go for a drive with Jesus. I go for a walk with Jesus. I talk with Jesus. I have a friend, someone I can love. I love Jesus and He loves me, and I can share anything with Him.
He knows what I feel, He knows my going out, He knows my coming in. The very hairs on my head are numbered. He knows, He cares, He understands. I'm to “cast all my care upon Him, for He cares for me” (1 Peter 5:7).
2. Someone who understands how you feel. Psalm 102, a Messianic psalm, is a prophecy of Jesus. More than what the psalmist felt, it depicts by inspiration of the Holy Spirit the experience of the Lord Jesus. He knows what it is to be lonely.
“Jesus was lonely?” you ask.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16.
No one ever really understood the heart of Jesus. Even when He was facing the cross, He could not make His disciples understand. Like a sparrow on the rooftop, alone He suffered. He understands. He knows how you feel.
3. Someone who needs and wants you. Jesus wants you and me. We are His body, His eyes, His mouth. Remember Zaccheus? When Jesus looked up and saw him in that sycamore tree, He called him by name. Zaccheus thought, “He knows me!” Jesus said, “Zaccheus, come down.” Zaccheus thought, “He wants me!” Then Jesus said, “Zaccheus, I must abide at your house.” “He needs me!”
Friend, He knows you, He wants you, He needs you. He knows your name. You are precious to him. He would have died for you had there been not one other soul on planet Earth. He would have died for you alone.
I prayed this morning before this sermon, “Oh God, inhabit my humanity. Lord Jesus, if You want to do something today, do it through me. I'm available. Live in me, speak in me, pray in me, praise in me.”
Through Jesus Christ you have significance. He is always there. You are never alone.
I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers nor height, nor depth, nor any otheif creature sball be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
When no one else understands, He does, and if everyone else fails you, He will not. Jesus alone is the answer to loneliness.