Combating Loneliness.

I have a hard time being by myself, feeling alone. I think everyone does to some extent. And I don’t mean single alone, I just mean physically by yourself a lot. I think our culture, especially for those in my generation, has set up this image of what your twenties are supposed to look like. Through media we believe that everyone else is always out, always having fun or going on adventures, surrounded by tons of friends or out meeting new people all the time and that we are the only ones that sit home by ourselves binge watch tv by ourselves on a Friday night.

Its not true. It is SO not true.

Everyone is much more alone than we like to let on. The reality is, whether you’re in a relationship or not, married or single, having kids or no kids at all, you are going to be alone for a good majority of your life. You get up in the morning, you get dressed and ready for the day, you drive to work or school, you pay bills, you do your grocery shopping, you get work done on your car, etc… And for the most part, these are going to be times that you do it all by yourself. There are going to be times where your friends are busy, and you find yourself alone in your room. Plans will fall through, people will flake out or get busy, and you will find yourself having more alone time than you want. And I think you just need to know that you aren’t the only one. There are a lot of us that have responsibilities in our life and it is okay to prioritize those things. It is okay to not go out all the time, to spend quality time by yourself, to spend a lot of quality time by yourself. It is okay to be okay with being alone.

But I also think that fear of being alone is what drives us to make some serious mistakes. I think that void that loneliness creates can lead us into dangerous places, places where the enemy can get some deadly upper ground or throw us way off track. For the past month or so, I have been picking a lot of people’s brains about their everyday life. I have asked probably close to about thirty different people, from all different walks of life, about how much time they spend by themselves. And everyone has said “uh…a lot.” Married people, single people, people with kids, people in school, people working, people who sit at home and do nothing, have all said they spend a good portion of their week by themselves. And a lot of people struggle with that. I know I sure did (and sometimes do!) I also know of so many who admitted that this fear and pain of being alone has driven them into making some bad decisions.

So how do we address that? How do we find that full satisfaction and contentment in God that allows us to be free from the burden of loneliness? How can we be proactive about our tendencies to succumb to the temptation of temporary relief?

I am reading a book by, you guessed it, John Piper called “Future Grace” that is all about finding freedom and power in the promises of God. And I want to share this to set up what I want to communicate. The first portion of finding that satisfaction in Christ is by embracing all that God is for us, not just now, but in what is to come. The passage I am referring to for this is as follows:

What then is the common essential element in all saving faith? What is it that makes believing in promises a saving act, rather than a deluded one like the experience of the hypocrites in Matthew 7:22? I have been putting it like this for some years: the essence of faith is ‘being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus.’ I think this is as close as I know how to get, because it gets at this idea of ‘delighting in’ or ‘cherishing’ or ‘consenting to’ or ‘embracing’ spiritual beauty.

Another way to say it would be that, in all the acts of saving faith, the Holy Spirit enables us not just to perceive and affirm factual truth, but also to apprehend and embrace spiritual beauty. It is the ‘embracing of spiritual beauty’ that is the essential core of saving faith. This is what I mean by ‘being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus.’ Spiritual beauty is the beauty of God diffused in all his words and works-especially in the saving work of his Son. Embracing this, or delighting in it, or being satisfied with it, is the heart of saving faith…If ‘all the promise of God find their Yes in [Jesus]’ (2 Corinthians 1:20), then to trust him now in the present is to believe that his promises will come true. Those are not two separate faiths-trusting him, and believing in his promises. Believing in Jesus means believing that he keeps his word. Being satisfied in the crucified and risen Jesus now includes the belief that at every future moment, to all eternity, nothing will separate us from his love, or keep him from working all things together for good.

Putting it all together, I would say that the spiritual beauty we need to embrace is the beauty of God that will be there for us in the future, certified for us by the glorious grace of the past. We need to taste now the spiritual beauty of God in all his past achievements-especially the death and resurrection of Christ for our sins- and in all his promises. Our confidence and trust must be in all that God himself will be for us in the next moment, and the next month, and in the endless ages of eternity…It is he and he alone who will satisfy the soul in the future. And it is the future that has to be secured and satisfied with spiritual riches of glory, if we are to live the radical Christian lives that Christ calls us to live here and now. If our present enjoyment of Christ now-our present faith-does not have in it Yes to all God’s promises, it will not embrace the power for radical service in the strength that God (in every future moment) will supply.

So, we embrace the promises of God and that is an essential part of having faith. It is also an essential part of finding contentment in life now. There are a whole bunch of promises God has for us, but for today, I want to focus on embracing this one:

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.” (Joshua 1:9)

And…

Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)

God clearly promises us that we will not be alone. He is always with us. Finding satisfaction in Him brings this promise to fruition. When you believe and understand deep in your heart and soul that He is all you will ever need, suddenly, that void loneliness created becomes filled with the beauty of God. But you have to believe that He is all that He says He is and that He does (and will do!) all that He says He does and will do.

And how do you believe it? “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” Look backward for a moment. “This pattern of looking back in order to believe in future grace is as old as grace itself. The Old Testament tells us of times when the people of God looked back to strengthen faith in future grace and times when they didn’t…God himself commands this pattern of remembering bygone grace for the sake of faith in future grace. In Isaiah 46:9 he says, ‘Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other, I am God and there is none like me.” The reason God wants them to look back on ‘the former things’ is to increase their confidence in the future things he is planning for them. ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’ (Isaiah 46:10). Remembering the former things that God has done gives a good foundation for believing his Word when he says, ‘I will accomplish all my purpose.’”

Look at Judges 8:33. After Gideon died, “the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals.” Why did they do this? Why would they choose a second-rate deity rather than trust the grace of the true God for their help and deliverance? Look at verse 34: ‘And the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side.” They lost their faith in God’s promise for their future because they stopped remembering what He had already done for them.

Look at Nehemiah 9:16-17: “Our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.” They forgot the past grace of God’s “wonders” and as a result, slavery looked better to them than God’s future promises for them.

Even look back on your own life. Has God ever not been there? Can you recall a time in your life where you felt so alone and so forgotten in the moment? Looking back, can you still say He was not working in your life? Has He not been consistent and faithful, even when no one else has? The void of loneliness is a lie of the enemy. We are never alone, we are not missing out on anything, we are not less than. You can find satisfaction in Christ and in where He has you currently because you know He is with you, you KNOW He has a plan and a purpose for every season. So if this is a season where you are alone more than you are not, where the sting of loneliness creeps in and makes it hard to find hope for the future, remember to embrace that all God is for us through Christ here and now by remembering what He has already done for you.

Each moment you have is a gift. Embrace all God has for you in each season, even seasons of loneliness. Take time to reflect, take time to center your heart on Gods promises, to serve those around you, to invest in reading his Word, remembering all the while that God is always with you, always around you, and always guiding you. This is what I am choosing to embrace during this season of life, and please hear me when I say, that it is a beautiful freedom when you choose to believe and live in the promises of God.

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