Thesis: We defeat loneliness by doing something about it.
1. Illust. A number of years ago the following ad was placed in
a Midwestern newspaper: "I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without a comment for $5.00." Sounds like a scam, doesn't it? It was not. Person placing ad received 10-20 calls a day.
2. Illust. Paul Tournier tells of a Swiss woman who lived in a large apt. house and worked with many people. Each evening she tuned in to the sign-off of the radio station just to hear a voice say, "We wish you a very pleasant good night." She imagined that voice speaking just to her.
I. LONELINESS: THE UNIVERSAL EMOTION.
A. Loneliness. It's not uncommon. The world is full of Eleanor Rigbys.
1. Illust. Thomas Wolfe: "The whole conviction of my life now rests upons the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence."
2. There are two (2) basic types of loneliness:
a. GEOGRAPHICAL LONELINESS.
1) What military persons in Somalia are feeling.
2) This is loneliness we feel on business trips; phone call helps--not the same as being there!
b. LONELINESS OF SPIRIT.
1) Husband & wife under same roof but distant.
2) Unwed mother whose former lover deserts her.
3) Elderly person who waits for call/mail/visit.
3. There are times when we all feel lonely.
1) New town, new job, new school, loss of loved one.
2) That kind of loneliness is natural--won't last.
3) But for some, loneliness runs much deeper.
II. WHY IS THERE LONELINESS IN THE WORLD?
A. Because God made us for companionship.
1. "Not good for man to be alone" (Gen. 2:18).
2. Sin entered the picture; people became separated from God and from each other (cf. Isa. 59:1-2).
3. Sin destroys relationships.
B. Sometimes loneliness is a choice.
1. You turn back on folks who really care (friends, family).
2. You can walk away from a church family too.
a. Maybe you quietly slip out the back door.
b. Maybe you confuse yourself with Martin Luther and nail 95 theses to the door ... and leave.
3. The result is the same--you choose against love; you squander relationships; loneliness is a decision--yours!
C. Sometimes loneliness is the price tag you pay for something else you want.
1. Absolutely free to do your own thing = loneliness.
2. Insist on running & winning rat race = loneliness.
3. Rigidly & unyielding; other must conform = loneliness.
4. Completely safe from pain of r/ships = loneliness.
5. Are you sarcastic, critical, always negative in what you say? Are you conceited, self-centered, holier-than-thou, rude? Do you emotionally drain everyone around you? Guess what the price tag is?!
III. PAUL'S LONELINESS ... AND OURS.
A. The Bible speaks relative to mankind's deepest needs--it is not silent on the matter of loneliness.
1. This AM we could talk about:
a. The loneliness of Elijah (1 Kgs. 19).
b. The loneliness of Jesus (Luke 22).
2. This AM we'll focus on loneliness of Paul (2 Tim. 4).
a. Consider his situation.
b. Note specific things he did to combat loneliness.
B. Reasons for Paul's loneliness.
1. He is in prison.
2. He is in prison alone.
a. Some of his friends have deserted him (Demas--10a).
b. Some of his friends have gone elsewhere.
1) Crescens to Galatia (10b).
2) Titus to Dalmatia (10c).
3) Erastus has stayed in Corinth (20a).
c. Some of his friends have been sent elsewhere.
1) Tychicus to Ephesus (12).
2) Trophimus was left at Miletus sick (20b).
d. Many of Paul's closest friends are overseas.
1) Priscilla & Aquila (19a).
2) Household of Onesiphorus (19b).
3) Timothy himself!
3. He is close to death (6-8).
4. Winter is approaching (21).
C. What does Paul do to combat his loneliness?
1. He sought to be around other people (9-11, 21).
a. You beat loneliness by cultivating relationships with other people!
b. Difficult when lonely/depressed--need to force it.
c. Illust. Regarding this someone has said: "Work at these relationships. They take effort. They're not always convenient. We cannot apply the technological rule of efficiency-maximum output--at minimum cost and time to human interaction. Deep, satisfying relationships take time, effort, and sometimes pain to develop. They are not always efficient" (Dale Pauls)
d. Paul put it this way: Phil. 2:3-4.
2. He got involved in a useful activity (13).
a. Illust. Dr. Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist, once gave a lecture on mental health & was answering questions from audience. One man: "What would you advise a person to do if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?" All that he would say, "Consult a psychiatrist." To their astonishment he replied: "Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone who is in need, and do something to help that person."