The Fear of Loneliness

Bible Book: Hebrews  13 : 1-6
Subject: Fear
Series: A New Year Without Fear

We are learning these days from the Word of God how to have a New Year without Fear. In fact .. not only during this worship gathering … but in every worship venue we provide be it our Contemporary Worship gathering in the Multi- Purpose building at 11:00 a.m. or our Brazilian Worship gathering at 6:00 p.m.

Soon .. all three of these worship gatherings will be taking place during the 11:00 a.m. hour when we make our schedule change. Your Sunday School class will be meeting at 9:30 a.m. and your Worship preference will be taking place at 11:00 a.m. It won’t be long now.

Now take your Bible and join me in Hebrews 13 as we continue our series of messages under the heading, “A New Year without Fear.” So far .. from the prophet Isaiah .. we have learned how to overcome the Fear of Uncertainty. And then last time together from David we learned how to live free from fear. And now today from the Apostle Paul .. we’re thinking about the Fear of Loneliness and how to overcome it.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to your becoming all that you were meant to be is inside you. It’s not the circumstances around you nor is it the people with you .. it’s the fear within you. And one fear that seems to constantly raise it’s ugly head is the Fear of Loneliness.

One of our members emailed some time ago regarding a friend of hers whose husband had recently died. Here’s what this widow friend wrote: “I am just so lonely. I was married for 46 years and I’m just not use to being alone. I am so lonely.”

Are you lonely? Perhaps you feel like that man who was trying to cure his loneliness and sent his picture to the “Lonely Hearts Club.” A few weeks later they sent his picture back and wrote, “Dear Sir, thank you for the picture, but we’re not that lonely.”

Perhaps you feel like the Psalmist who wrote in Psalm 102.6, “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.” Psalm 31.12, “I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind. I am like a broken vessel.” Psalm 25.16, “I am lonely and afflicted.”

Loneliness will cause you to think that God is gone and He has taken everybody with Him who matters to you. So .. is there any hope for overcoming the Fear of Loneliness? What does God have to say to us about this fear?

Well here in Hebrews 13 beginning in verse 5 we read, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may bold say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear, What can man do to me?’”

What a relevant word for today: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.” In other words .. don’t be deceived into thinking that by adding things to your closet or by adding more money into your account that that somehow will somehow eliminate your loneliness.

Things wear out and money comes and goes .. but God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. Don’t reply upon “things” to overcome your loneliness! “Things” come and go but God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And knowing that … you can now boldly say, “The LORD is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”

Hey folks … it’s not until God becomes your helper that you can overcome the fear of loneliness. It’s when God is with you that you can overcome the fear of loneliness.

The Psalmist says in Psalm 118:5,6, “I called on the LORD in distress; The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.”

Well if there was ever a man who tried to overcome the fear of loneliness with “things” .. it was Solomon. And like some of you .. his pockets were full but his life was empty. And we read about it in the book of Ecclesiates.

So turn with me to Ecclesiastes 4 where we hear Solomon say in verse 8, “There is one alone, without campanion ..” The Hebrew literally reads, “A lone one.” It describes that feeling of being cut off .. unnoticed .. unloved.

And if you continue reading … he goes on to say, “Nor is his eye satisfied with riches.” The word “satisfied” was used to describe somebody whose hunger was satisfied or their thirst quenched.

It will be a great day in your life when you finally come to realize that you’ll never be happy without God. That there is no cure for loneliness apart from God! It doesn’t matter how much money you make … how much stuff you accumulate … how far up the cooperate latter you climb. You’ll always end up lonely without God.

Solomon discovered that it’s a lonely world without God. Let me ask you something: Are you lonely? You say, “Ernest, how can I be lonely? There are hundreds of other people in this room.” You can be lonely in a crowd. In fact .. sometimes the bigger the crowd the more lonely you are.

Loneliness is that feeling deep inside that you’re unwanted … unneeded and perhaps even unnecessary. It’s that feeling deep inside that makes you feel that there is nothing to live for and that nobody cares. Loneliness robs you of hope.

Now quickly .. think with me about a couple of things as we learn more about overcoming the fear of loneliness.

(1) What are the CAUSES of Loneliness?

Why do so many people today feel unneeded and unnecessary? Well .. cheer up. You’re not alone in your fear of loneliness. In fact .. we learn from Cain that ….

–sin causes loneliness.

Back in Genesis 4 we read the account of Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. Genesis 4.8, “Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.”

Verse 12, “When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.” Cain not only killed Abel in that field .. he killed Cain. He committed spiritual suicide and by deciding to leave God out of his life .. he brought upon himself a life of wandering and loneliness.

Oh ..the loneliness that sin causes. Never forget that sin will always cause separation. It separated Cain from God and it will separated you from God too. So from Cain we learn that sin causes loneliness. But from Job we learn that …

-suffering causes loneliness.

I don’t know anybody in the Bible who suffered anymore than Job. He lost his family .. his farm .. his health .. but he never lost his faith. And all that suffering caused him to be lonely.

Job 7.16, “I loathe (despise) my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone, for my days are but a breath.” His suffering led him to ask, “What meaning does my life have anyway?”

Suffering has a way of causing you to feel lonely. When you hurt .. you start questioning your faith. You start trying to figure out what God is up too. And so often .. suffering causes loneliness.

Listen to Job in Job 19.13, ‘He has removed my brothers far from me; and my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have failed, and my close friends have forgotten me.” Verse 17, “my breath is offensive to my wife, and I am repulsive to the children of my own body.” That’s loneliness.

So from Cain we learn that Sin causes loneliness. And from Job we learn that Suffering causes loneliness. But it is from Elijah we learn that

-self-pity causes loneliness.

In 1 Kings 19 … Elijah just experienced a great spiritual victory for God. He had just had a great victory on Mt. Carmel. But did you know that some of the greatest periods of loneliness come as emotional let downs following a great spiritual success? Well .. it’s true. Elijah had experienced a great spiritual success and then came the set back.

1 Kings 19.1-4, “ 1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” Verse 10, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” That’s loneliness. Beware! When you start feeling sorry for yourself thinking “poor little ol’e me” and your days are spent having a pity party .. you soon lose your purpose and perspective and it results in loneliness.

(1)What are the CAUSES of Loneliness? So from Cain we learn that Sin causes loneliness. From Job we learn that Suffering causes loneliness. And from Elijah we learn that Self-Pity causes loneliness.

(2) What is the CURE for Loneliness?

You may be like Cain: lonely in your sin. Or perhaps you’re like Job: lonely in your suffering. Or maybe you’re like Elijah: lonely in your sorrow and self-pity. Well .. I have some wonderful news: There is a cure for loneliness. It’s possible to live without the fear of loneliness following you like a cloud on a rainy day. There is an answer to your loneliness.

-discover a relationship with Jesus.

The ultimate answer to your loneliness is faith in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the answer to loneliness and I’ll tell you why. He understands your loneliness. He knows what it is to be lonely. He died for the lonely. Isaiah 53.3, “He is despised and rejected by men. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” John 1.11, “He came to His own and His own did not receive Him.” Jesus understands loneliness He hung on the cross between two thieves and shed His blood ALONE. His disciples left Him ALONE. Even God the Father turned His back on Him and when He did .. Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me.”

Jesus died a lonely death. Forsaken by man. Forsaken by God the Father so that you would never have to be alone. Now you say, “Pastor, that sounds good. But how can I be for sure?” -the scripture gives you the Assurance of His Presence. Matthew 28.19b, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” John 14.18, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” Hebrews 13.5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Isaiah 43.5, “Fear not, for I am with you.” Genesis 15.1, “… the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision saying, ‘Do not be afraid Abram, I am your shield your exceedingly great reward.”

--His Spirit gives you the Awareness of His Presence.

John 14.16-18, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans.”

Loneliness is common to man but it’s conquered by Christ. Whether your loneliness is caused by sin .. suffering . or self-pity. So .. the cure for loneliness begins by discovering a relationship with Jesus.

-develop a friendship with others.

Ecc 4.9-12, “9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

David had Jonathan .. Elijah had Elisha .. Naomi had Ruth. Robert Putman who is a professor at Harvard University discovered that Americans are getting lonelier: “Social isolation has many well-documented side effects. Kids fail to thrive. Crime rises. Generosity shrivels. Death comes sooner. Well connected people live longer, happier lives.” He goes on to say, “Reaching out to a neighbor or connecting with a long lost pal .. even having a picnic or two .. could just save your life.”

You say, “Ernest, I’ve tried to develop friends but people at school and at work .. and even at church are just not friendly.” Do you know why you have such a hard time making friends? It’s because you’re not friendly.

Now don’t get mad at me. I didn’t say that. God said it. Proverbs 18.24, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” If you want a friend then you must first be friendly.

“I went out to find a friend, but could not find one there. I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere.”

Yes .. there may be seasons of loneliness. Sometimes we bring it into our lives ourselves. Other times circumstances out of our control brings it on. But there is a cure.

-discover a relationship with Jesus.

-develop a friendship with others.

Proverbs 18.24, “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”