Overcoming Loneliness

Bible Book: Psalms  68 : 4-8
Subject: Loneliness;



Pastor Fred Penney tells the story that a number of years ago, he attended a pastors gathering in Toronto.  A retired Pastor, now crippled by a stroke, sat along the wall on a chair, all alone.  In his prime he was a highly esteemed professor, author and preacher.  Now, he sat alone and unnoticed.

Fred walked across the room and lamented this lonely scene.  They chatted vigorously until the meeting was convened.  As they finished their conversation, the retired pastor looked at Fred and said; "Thank you Fred for the chat.  When you're my age a good talk is better than a vacation."  Those words have stuck.

Even before we ever heard of the coronavirus, loneliness was a growing problem in our society.  To point out how lonely people can be, listen to how an ad in a Kansas newspaper read:  "I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for $5.00."  It may sound silly to you, but the person was serious.  Did anybody call?  You bet.  It wasn't long before this individual was receiving 10 to 20 calls a day.  

The pain of loneliness was so sharp that some were willing to try anything for a half hour of companionship.  So, with that thought in mind, I want to talk with you today on the subject of Overcoming Loneliness.
Lead In:

In this passage of Scripture, David is writing thinking about God, and he’s thinking about God’s majesty.  He sees God marching down the ages of time, progressing in steady strides towards His goal.  No power on earth can stop Him, and His enemies are like smoke driven before the wind. But, then he begins to think about God’s mercy.  He can see how that God takes a special interest in the unfortunate, the downtrodden, and the lonely; those over whom the world rides roughshod over.  

The coronavirus has swept the globe at a time when more people are living alone than ever before in human history.  28% of households were single-person.  But, now, our vocabularies have added new terminologies: social distancing, quarantine, lock-down, and stay-at-home orders.  Schools and businesses are closed, social gatherings are banned, and there are travel restrictions.  All of this is now the making of a new invisible pandemic: loneliness.

If you go back to the dawn of time, you will discover that the first thing God declared bad was loneliness. 

Genesis 2: 18, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. “

Strange as it may seem, in a world experiencing a population explosion, loneliness is still one of man’s greatest problems.  Loneliness is a genuine condition because we have become so isolated, and we’re afraid. 

One doctor said, “Loneliness...generates the sort of psychic terror that can creep up on a perfectly ordinary individual, cloaking everything in a mist of urgent fear and uncertainty.”

No person has ever walked our earth and been free from the pains of loneliness.  The rich and poor, wise and uneducated, faith-filled and agnostic have all alike had to face and struggle with its potentially paralyzing grip.  But, in these verses, we learn something about overcoming a life of loneliness.  

I.  The Making Of Loneliness   (vs. 5-6)  

Now, what is loneliness?  Well, I want to say that mere solitude is not loneliness.  Solitude is good.  Many times, Jesus would withdraw Himself from the crowds and get alone by Himself.  And, sometimes, we all need to do that.  It’s good to have solitude. But, loneliness goes much deeper.  Loneliness is when you feel unneeded, unwanted, uncared for; maybe even unnecessary. 

Psalm 25: 16,  the psalmist said, “Turn Thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.” – That’s just another way of saying that he was lonely.

Now, it’s much more common than you may realize.  But, that begs the question, what causes loneliness?  Well, people are lonely for a number of reasons, and I want you to notice a few of the key ones here in this passage.  

A.  Separation Causes Loneliness   (vs. 5a) “A father of the fatherless...”

The idea in the Hebrew is a child who has been “orphaned, left alone, lonely and broken hearted.”  I would say that I am talking to some who are suffering from separation anxiety.  There are some grandparents that haven’t been able to see their grandkids for 8 weeks.  There are some teachers that never imagined they would be missing all of their students.  There are some people that are missing the comradery of coworkers.  There are some that are missing the love and fellowship of their church family.  

Do you recall in the story of the Prodigal Son, how that in his rebellion, he became not only isolated from his father, but also from his so-called "friends."  The Bible tells us that he ended up in a field by himself feeding and eating with pigs.  But, then we are told in Luke 15: 17-18, “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father'shave bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father..”

He missed his father’s food, but he missed his father’s fellowship.  

B.  Sorrow Causes Loneliness   (vs. 5b) “...and a judge of the widows...”

Another cause of loneliness is sometimes people have gone through pain and suffering.  Maybe the loss of a child, the loss of a mate, and they feel nobody else can understand, and they just close themselves off.  I think about Abraham and Sarah.

Genesis 23: 2, “And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”

Notice, he mourned and wept.  What an incredible journey they had been on together.  They started out with nothing but love and a Word from God.  They lived on promises and blessings from God.  They were given a child in their old age.  And, now, she’s gone, and he is crushed by loneliness.

Now, there are many things we are all learning through these crazy days.  But, one thing we have all learned is the plight that the widows and widowers face every day.  The difference is, we will go back to some sort of normalcy, but they never will.  May God give us a heart to know how we should be caring for and  [Anchor] ministering to them because their loneliness never fully goes away. 

C.  Situations Cause Loneliness   (vs. 6a) “God setteth the solitary in families...”

The word "solitary" literally means "the lonely and desolate, but beloved and dear to His heart.”   Now, as you study the Bible, you can easily discover that the Lord Jesus was ever conscious of those that were lonely.  Jesus left the glory of the mountain of transfiguration to help a desperate father in the valley.  Jesus crossed a stormy sea to set a man free from demonic bondage.  Jesus went out of His way to find a lonely woman at a well.  Jesus arrives in Samaria, and we are told in  John 4: 6-7, “Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water...”

She came at the hottest part of the day thinking she wouldn’t have to run into anyone.  Here was a lady trying to outrun the shadows of her past.  She’s had 5 failed marriages, and the fella she’s living with now, isn’t her husband.  Can you imagine what public life must have been like for her?  Stares and whispers in the market-place.  Imagine the sense of insecurity.  Imagine the loss of self-worth.  Imagine the loneliness she felt in a crowd.

It doesn’t take long into the journey of life before we each discover our pathways will often lead us to experience many unavoidable wounds.  Whether it be disappointments, defeats, disease, divorce, or  death, we have all been touched with our fair share of damaging blows in life.  

D.  Sickness Causes Loneliness (vs. 6b) “...He bringeth out those which are bound with chains...”

It is, first of all, a picture of a prisoner being set free.  But, second, the phrase “bringeth out” carries the idea of “raising up and carrying out” someone that’s been sick.  Now, social distancing is not really something new.  When you were a child and you got sick, your mama isolated you and kept your siblings away so they didn’t catch it as well.  It reminds me of a story found in​ Matthew 8: 2-3, “And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him...”

Lepers “stood afar off” because the Mosaic law isolated lepers from social contact.  They were forbidden to come within six feet of a whole person.  If the wind was blowing they couldn’t come within 50 yards.  If someone inadvertently approached them they were commanded to shout, “unclean!” 

The leper suffered the fate of a long, slow, agonizing death lived out in some leper colony isolated from friends and family.  They were a social outcast unable to hug or shake hands.  

E.  Sin Causes Loneliness   (vs. 6c) “...but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.”

That is, “in a desert.”  You know, sometimes the fruit of your sin can make you lonely.  You may recall, Cain killed his brother Abel, and God tells him that he will spend the rest of his life like a fugitive on the run, and he will wonder in loneliness.  Then, to me, we read some of the most terrifying words written in the Bible:

Genesis 4: 16, “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord..”   

II.  The Misery Of Loneliness   (vs. 7)

It is significant to note that in addition to being lonely in Egypt, God's ancient people were also lonely in the wilderness.  The psalmist described such a condition in Psalm 102: 6-7, “I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.  I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.” 

Can you imagine how out of place a pelican would feel away from water and food?  Or, how alone an owl would be in the desert, but who gives a hoot?  Or, a sparrow on the rooftop but who knows, and who cares; just an insignificant little bird.

Loneliness is one of life's most miserable experiences.  In a sense, loneliness is like a toothache:  It's a warning signal that something is wrong.  And like a toothache, if left unattended, it usually gets worse.  Even though social distancing and isolation are a means of protecting our health, it also comes at a cost.

A.  Loneliness Will Impact You Emotionally

J.H. van den Berg, the late Dutch psychiatrist,

“If loneliness didn’t exist, we could reasonably assume that psychiatric illnesses would not occur either.”

There are few hurts that are deeper than loneliness.  Loneliness eats away at the inner person.  It saps you of strength.  It’s robs you of hope.  Loneliness puts a wall around you no matter how free you may be. Research suggests that people forced to live in quarantine conditions face a greater risk of anxiety, depression, anger, and irritability.  The longer quarantine lasts, the worse its impact on psychological well-being.

Consider this story from the life of Elijah.  He has been a mighty man of God, and seen incredible miracles.  But, when Jezebel put a bounty on his head, he had to go into hiding, and he’s asking God to take his life.  The angel of the Lord asked him what he was doing there.  He said in 1 Kings 19: 10, “And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

As human beings, we connect to other people at so basic a level that when we disconnect, our souls shatter into a thousand little pieces.

B.  Loneliness Will Impact You Physically

The psychological strain of loneliness manifests itself physically as well.  It could be as simple of a problem as insomnia and loss of appetite.  But, it could be as serious as higher blood pressure and heart rates and lowering immune systems.  One survey reported that more than 50% of the heart patients admitted that they were lonely and depressed before they had a heart attack. 

Harry Taylor, who studies social isolation in older adults says,  

“The mortality effect of [prolonged] social isolation [on the body]  is like smoking 15 cigarettes per day.”

In older people, social isolation seems to worsen any chronic, underlying health conditions from cardiovascular diseases, to diabetes, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. 

C.  Loneliness Will Impact You Spiritually  

Loneliness has also spiritual consequences.  You see, the Lord made us to have fellowship with Him and with His people, and it’s a sad thing when people don’t come to church because they are closed up in themselves and they cut themselves off from the very thing they need.

You will recall John the Baptist has been cast into prison.  He has been around the massive crowds for year, but now, he is alone in a dark, damp dungeon knowing that his days are now numbered.  This very man who had once boldly proclaimed that Jesus was “the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world” now says in Luke 7: 19, “And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?”

In the darkness of loneliness, he couldn’t see who Jesus was any longer.

III.  The Mastering Of Loneliness  (vs. 8)

Can you hear the cry of loneliness and pain?  They come from the rich and famous, the poor and unknown, the married and the single, the high schools and the colleges, the blue collar workers and the white collar workers.  Can you hear the cries?  God did -- and He did something about it! 

A.  The Determination Of God’s Love

Matthew 1: 23, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” 

Jesus alone is the answer to loneliness, and I'll tell you why: because He cares enough to come to where we are!

John 14: 18, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

The word “comfortless” literally means “orphaned and alone.”  Even the great saints of Scripture faced intense loneliness in their humanity, but what was their secret?

Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold as a slave, thrown into prison, but, Genesis 39: 21, “But the Lord was with Joseph...”  Paul was cast into prison and deserted by most everyone, but, 2 Timothy 4: 17, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me...”

Only those who practice the presence of God can go through every experience and stage of life alone, and yet not be alone.  Thank God for all that we have in our friendship with Jesus, our Emmanuel, who is God with us.

B.  The Defeat Of Our Loneliness

One of the reasons that Jesus is God’s answer to man’s loneliness is that He knew loneliness like nobody else has ever known loneliness.  When the prophet Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah, he said this in Isaiah 53: 3: “He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid, as it were, our faces from him.  He was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

John 1: 11, it speaks of Jesus, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”  

Think about His birth.  Luke 2: 7, “...there was no room for them in the inn.” 

Think about His crucifixion.  He died outside the city gates on a garbage heap.  He died alone between heaven and earth on the cross.  His disciples forsook Him.  He’s there alone, and He has to bow His head and cry in  Matthew 27: 46, “...My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

There was probably more going on when Jesus hung on the cross than we will ever understand on earth.  But, at a time when He was making a way for my salvation, He was also facing and defeating the deepest loneliness I would ever face, and that was separation from God the Father!

You say, “Nobody knows how I feel.”  Jesus knows!  Friend, He has been there.  And, to every lonely heart today, He doesn’t tell you to just tough it out. He says to you  

Revelation 3: 20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.”

The truth is, even real people aren’t able to satisfy our need to be perfectly loved and fully accepted. He reaches down into the deepest pit of suffering and loneliness, and He fills it with Himself!  

Someone might be able to come and fill an empty seat, but only Jesus can fill an empty heart.  Would you open your heart to Him today?


Rupert Brooke was leaving Liverpool and he felt lonely for everyone seemed to have somebody on the dock waving goodbye.  He went and found a boy who was dirty but unoccupied by the name of William, and he paid him to wave.

When the ship pulled out he shouted goodbye William, and as the vessel slid away the last object to be seen was a small boy faithfully waving his handkerchief.  Such is the measure men will go to in order to hide the reality of loneliness.