Breaking the Shackles of Loneliness


Mike Cunningham

June 4, 2006

There are many lonely people in our world and I can’t help feeling sorry for the ones the Lord has caused to cross paths with me. These folks are missing out on so much of the enjoyment of life because of their loneliness and I’m particularly saddened if the person is a Christian.

For instance, a young fifteen year old boy named Matthew spends most of his time alone in his room. In fact, except for his meals or going out somewhere, he’s locked himself in. It isn’t because he’s trying to concentrate on doing homework or listening to CD’s but rather because he’s trying to get away from his Christian parents who are continually at each others throats screaming and hollering about something. They make Matt sick to him stomach. Needless to say, he is a very lonely boy.

Old people such as a woman named Olga are particularly prone to succumbing to loneliness. Her husband with whom she raised their children, a man she had lived with and laughed with and fought with and cried with and prayed with and made plans with and had fun with for more than fifty five years went home to be with the Lord six months ago. Now Olga is all alone in her home with many cherished memories. Nonetheless, she isn’t lonely.

I can’t help wondering how many Christian husbands and wives immerse themselves in volunteer activities mainly because they are lonely in their own home. They don’t really communicate with or truly value each other and so they seek fellowship with other adults with whom they can talk and by whom they are appreciated. Such outside activity enhances their self-worth and makes up for all the negative put downs or sarcasm from their spouse at home.

There are lots of lonely shut inn’s living alone and who rarely get a visit or receive a phone call. It’s as though they don’t even exist except to the mail man and their creditors.  Then there are other folks in the exact same situation where someone always seems to be knocking at their door and whose phone appears never to stop ringing.

We could say that loneliness is a problem with some folks while it isn’t with others but this isn’t true. Loneliness isn’t the problem at all but rather it’s a symptom that something is wrong with the person’s relationship with God and with other people; so much so that He often seems distant from them or worse yet, that He doesn’t really care. Allow me to explain. After having received many blessing from God; His Chosen People the Jews, backslid greatly.

Deuteronomy 32:19-20 (ESV) 19 “The Lord saw it and spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters. 20 And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness.

Our spiritual forefathers knew why the Lord often turns a deaf ear to the pleas of His children.

Psalms 66:18 (ESV) 18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

Proverbs 15:29 (AMP) 29 The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the [consistently] righteous (the upright, [those who are] in right standing with Him).

Isaiah 59:2 (AMP) 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.

A lonely Christian’s prayers for a new job, or for the Lord to cause a very special person to enter into his or her life, or for teacher to cut them some slack, or whatever, is often caused by the person’s unwillingness to get rid of some of their sins. Some, not all, but some lonely people may uncover the reason for their loneliness by asking him or herself questions such as:

Do I enjoy being in the company of a Christian who is a perfectionist and is quick to point out everybody’s including my faults? How much pleasure do I get whenever I’m around an irritable negative pessimistic whiner? Why would I want to spend my spare time with someone who is always trying to con me out of something? What is it about Christians who seem to be so self absorbed that they don’t hear or understand or even care about what I’m trying to say to them that I want to stay as far away from them as possible?

Am I a glutton for abuse? Aren’t there already enough angry, bitter, resentful, impatient, suspicious, demanding, pushy and inflexible Christians in my life that I would want to spend time with more of them? How much more room do I want to make for another gloomy one? What is it about someone who thinks he or she is always right and who insists on getting in the last word that appeals to me? I could continue but I know each of you folks have “got the picture” by now.

Who of us doesn’t enjoy being in the company of a fellow Christian that is sincerely trying to grow in their faith? For instance:

2 Peter 1:5-10 (ESV) 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

Often lonely Christians seem to be oblivious to the fact that these aren’t suggestions but rather are commands from their Loving Creator.

Ephesians 4:17-20 (ESV) 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!—

Titus 3:3 (ESV) 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

It does us good to remember that this is where all Christians are coming from at least in some areas.

It’s also entirely possible the lonely person really isn’t a Christian anymore than was the young fictitious woman named Ashley I spoke about last week who had responded to an alter call was.

In such a case the person’s loneliness is caused by his or her alienation from God. That’s the real heart of the person’s problem and it can only be resolved by the person admitting to God that he or she is a rebellious sinner and then plead for His forgiveness.

If we trust God in every circumstance which He has planned for us to experience, both the good times and the bad, even if we are separated from loved ones, we can count on Him to keep His promises. Among other blessings we will never be lonely.

Joshua 1:9 (ESV) 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Psalms 23:4 (ESV) 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalms 27:10 (ESV) 10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.

Isaiah 49:15 (ESV) 15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.

The various Psalmists’ knew these truths and they acknowledged them in their praises and prayers. For instance:

Psalms 90:1 (ESV) Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Psalms 71:9 (ESV) 9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.

Psalms 71:18 (ESV) 18 So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

Psalms 139:6-12 (ESV) 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

Isaiah 43:2 (ESV) 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

These Old Testament believers had developed a deep sense of God’s constant presence. They knew they were never alone even for a Mila-second. And they trusted Him to take care of them regardless of circumstances

Philippians 4:19 (ESV) 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Jesus concluded “The Great Commission” by reminding His disciples that they would never be alone. Matthew 28:20 (ESV) 20 …And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Consider how this promise played out in the Apostle Paul’s life.

2 Timothy 4:9-10 (ESV) 9 Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.

2 Timothy 4:16-17 (ESV) 16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

Did these words of the Apostle Paul come across to you as being those of some lonely old Christian locked up in a prison somewhere? Listen to the following truths Paul reminds every follower of Jesus.

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV) 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

How then can a Christian break the shackles of loneliness and develop a closer more intimate relationship with God, so much so that he or she will be able to maintain a constant sense of the presence of God as our spiritual forefathers did? Meditate on these passages of Scripture. Commit them to memory. Guard then for what they are; a treasured possession. And, at the appropriate time, the Holy Spirit will jog your memory and cause you to remember and be blessed by them.

Psalms 34:18 (ESV) 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalms 46:10 (ESV) 10 “Be still, and know that I am God!”

John 14:21 (ESV) 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

John 14:23 (ESV) 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

Folks who also frequently partake of a regular diet of Spiritual nourishment which is found only in the Word of God have cultivated the habit of abiding in Christ. These are the ones who know infallibly how to draw Him to them.

James 4:8 (ESV) 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

John 15:1-7 (ESV) 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Hebrews 13:5-6 (ESV) 5..“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” 7

The widow Olga and Matt the teenager were in each in situations beyond their control. Although Olga was all alone she wasn’t lonely. On the other hand Matt didn’t live alone.  He had his two parents and younger brother and sister that I forgot to mention living in the same house as him. But he was a very lonely kid. Matt is a young believer and still a lot of spiritual growing to do.

On the other hand, Olga continues to walk with and follow the Spirit. She truly struggles to fill herself with the Him, so much that you can’t help seeing the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control of Christ shining through her.

Christians such as Olga will never be lonely. They will be sought after for their sweetness as is the nectar in special flowers by a tiny hummingbird. These folks have learned how to break the shackles of loneliness.

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