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loneliness

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This is a session looking at the subject of loneliness

Loneliness is something that many Christians feel (of all ages) but are often too nervous to bring it up in conversation. This may be out of fear or worry of being accused of lacking in faith (unhelpful) or any number of reasons. So, with God's help and prompting we take a look at loneliness. This session can be used and developed for people of all ages.

Many times people don't want to admit to loneliness. But it is a fact of life, it's not about lack of faith, it's a basic human need to be accepted, loved, be part of something..

My Story

When I became a Christian, God had to deal with lots of stuff in my life (he still is!) One of the things that happened was that God really brought me to my knees. In a 2 week period, just about everyone I knew let me down in small and major ways. I felt a bit down and very lonely. It was at this time that God showed me that I had to put him first, that he was all I truly needed. It was hard and still is. But despite this, I still believe it.

I also wrote a song, which we used at my church. The song starts with the words, 'And once again, it's you and me, we stand together for eternity..' This reflects where I was coming from, the place God had brought me to. But this is no depressing song! Like the Gospel message, it is one of hope - the chorus of the song is - 'I called out your name, you touched me again, you poured out your love on me. I draw close to you, Lord Jesus renew, Lord Jesus renew me.'

(Replace this with a story of your own, or a better one if you want, lol!)

Love Songs

There are many love songs. If you are unlucky enough to watch some of the cable channels you'll have seen them advertised, or given away with Sunday newspapers - 'Love's Greatest Hits' and all that jazz.. But inside these lyrics (and many other song lyrics) you find a deep need, a need for relationship, a fear of loneliness, a desire for company. These songs often suggest the way to happiness is through finding your 'true love' and this can no doubt help. But these songs are worshipping love, romance, or their concept. If you took out certain words in these songs and replaced them with the word, 'God' or 'Jesus' you'd find they were worship songs.

So why not try this with some good old classic love songs - or stuff from bands like Westlife etc.

Get suitable lyrics and then get people to re-write the songs inserting God, Jesus (or similar) into the songs. Here's an example..

Righteous Brothers, Unchained Melody - actual lyrics:

Oh, my love, my darling,
I've hungered for your touch a long, lonely time,
Time goes by so slowly and time can do so much.
Are you still mine?
I need your love, I need your love, God speed your love to me.

Righteous Brothers, Unchained Melody - changed up lyrics:

Oh, my Lord, my Jesus,
I've hungered for your touch a long, lonely time,
Time goes by so slowly and time can do so much.
Are you still mine?
I need your love, I need your love, God speed your love to me.

OK, it's not a great remix by me - but give it a go and see what happens. At the least it'll be a bit of fun..

The Bible

The truth is that Jesus is all we need. And yet, this is only part of the story. Let's go right back to the start of creation. God has created man in his own image so man and God are hanging out in the Garden of Eden..

Genesis 2.15-17 - The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

But something was up, something wasn't quite in place just yet..

Genesis 2.18-22 - The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Did you see what God himself said, 'It is not good for man to be alone..' You see, we were built for human relationships. The Bible is full of them, our life is full of them. The way God created us to be born shows that he intended humans to have connection with each other (he could have made us so we were manufactured in a factory with no human contact..)

In fact, the way that the Trinity (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit) are in relationship and connected also gives us another clue. You see, we are made in the image of God and this is on many levels - physically, spiritually etc. So seeing that the Godhead (another word for the Trinity) are together in relationship - means that we too on our physical level in this world (and in the spiritual world, connected to God) are to be in relationship.

In fact, we are dysfunctional (we don't work as effectively, properly) where we aren't in relationship.

1 Corinthians 12.12 - The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.

Here, the apostle Paul is talking about the body of Christ (the church). He tells us that the body is a unit, made up of many parts. So in our churches, we have many people, each playing different parts. So we find that in the church, it is God's will that we should be together with other believers. How this works itself out in the real world is different. But we are part of God's family and need to be actively part of this family with other believers here on earth.

But there's more. We are actual members of God's family..

Hebrews 2:10-12 - In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.”

So Jesus himself declares you as his brothers (and sisters) if you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour and are therefore one of his holy people. What an awesome statement and privilege huh?!

Jesus On The Cross

We read in Matthew 27.45-48 - From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He's calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him.” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

Jesus, on the Cross, suffered the ultimate pain and loneliness, he disconnected with his Father for the first and only time. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Can you even begin to imagine the pain Jesus went through.. My family (parents) have gone through several things - a baby who died in the womb, a twin who died just after birth and a son who was killed in Africa on mission. Such pain and heartache. A real close soul sista lost her brother and mum to cancer in just 4 years. Again, what can words say.. Many of you may have gone through a lot too.

But know that Jesus has been there and experienced the deepest amounts of pain and loneliness imaginable. So he can relate to you, he feels your pain and loneliness.

The Practical

Don't you just hate super spiritual people. They seem to have a spiritual answer for everything like they somehow don't live in the real world. Well, guess what fam, we live in the real world. In the real world, though we know the answers and have God's Spirit and his Word, we sometimes still feel lonely or down or unhappy.. Am I right?

So let's look at some practical steps to aid us in our struggles against loneliness. Ain't nothing worse than a talk with no practical help. Believe me I've been there, heard enough talks like that, haha!!

1. Are you tired or in need of refreshment and TLC?

Sometimes, our loneliness is simply a tiredness, we start getting stuff out of perspective. Well, God knows and is on hand to help. Let's look again at Elijah in 1 Kings 19.. Here we find Elijah was tired, weary, got stuff out of perspective. God knew and allowed Elijah time to sleep and rest, sent an angel to give him not just food but freshly baked hot food (!) and a cool refreshing drink, not just once but twice.

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD ," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.

Maybe you need to take time out, have a really good holiday, go on a weekend away, go see some friends, get out of your situation, sleep, not take on so much work, maybe get out and do some new things, get active, do some sport, change your perspective. God did this for Elijah, why not pray and ask him to do the same for you today. I'm with you in prayer too.

Sometimes, you may just need to cry and let it all out..

2. Keeping up and in with other believers

The writer of Hebrews says this..

Hebrews 10:25 - Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

It is a good idea, both spiritually and practically to keep meeting up with other believers. Don't get me wrong, I know some Sunday services can be atrocious and don't connect with you. But find a way, a place to meet with others. One thing we did as a group of friends was to meet every Wednesday at a thing called 'GRUBS' (we ate grub / food so seemed a natural name at the time!) and then studied the Bible, prayed together. It was an unofficial home / cell group and was awesome. Now, most of us didn't do every Sunday at an official church - but did go along to this.

Even if you don't or can't face Sundays, find something you can go along to, meeting other Christians.

Get involved - there's nothing quite like getting involved in a team to help. You lose your focus on yourself and are forced to focus your time and energies on other people, often people more needy than you think you are!! At my church, we have groups for children, young people, men, older people, worship teams, women's group, home groups, we're doing a football outreach to local young people, there's a once a month community outreach - and more.. And we honestly don't do that much! Get involved dudes!

3. Staying close to God

Remember the line from my song I mentioned earlier - "I draw close to you, Lord Jesus renew.." God gave me all the words to that song it was amazing. And when I look at them, they are so true and reflect the Bible..

Hebrews 10:22 - let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

So we see that often we need to draw close to God in order for God to draw close to us. In Luke 24 we find the story of the Road to Emmaus. Interesting it was the 2 disciples who asked Jesus to walk with them and then asked Jesus to stay with them - before Jesus revealed himself to them.

Psalm 1.1-3 - Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

John 7.37-38 - Whoever believes in me (Jesus), as [ Or / If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me. / And let him drink, who believes in me. / As] the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

So the promise is that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, follow him, obey his laws, think about his commands, serve God, believe in Jesus, if you are thirsty for more of Jesus, if you seek after righteousness (doing things God's way for God's glory) THEN we will be like trees planted by streams of water, THEN we will have streams of living water coming from us. BUT the promise is connected to the need to draw close to and worship God.

This comes through Bible reading, Bible teaching, prayer, being holy, obeying God, seeking his will, loving others, serving God, meeting with other Christians, helping the poor and needy etc.

Prayer

Lord, I'm lonely, I'm feeling low. I don't understand what's going on. But you know me, Lord. You knew me even before I was born and you even chose me. Lord, you chose me for a purpose and you don't make mistakes. Lord, you died on the cross and rose again to save me. Lord, when you were on the cross you suffered such pain and loneliness. But through that I know that you can relate to me, that you are there for me. Lord, you know what I need. I lay down all my pain, frustration, anger, loneliness, unhappiness at your feet. I ask that you take these things away from me, that you help me day to day. Lord, please show me how to break free from these feelings, release me. Lord, make a way so that I can shake off this loneliness and live a full life, with streams of your life running through me. Lord, be with me in the hard times and the good times. Send the right people (person) into my life to help me and help me to be a blessing to them and others too. I ask it, I proclaim it in the mighty name of Jesus and according to the Word of God, I believe you have answered my prayer, Father God. Thank you. Amen.

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