Summary: This is a Valentine Sermon that deals with the feeling of being lonely and what to do about it.
Are You Lonesome Tonight 2/8/04
Hopefully, we all have just celebrated Valentine’s Day. This is the day when we show our appreciation to those we love. You might have received the traditional gift of flowers or candy. Maybe you received a card. Whatever the gift, it is nice to feel loved. And if you ever had a Valentines Day that you didn’t receive a gift, you probably felt pretty lonely. I don’t know if poor Charlie Brown ever did receive a card from the little red hair girl, but I’m sure all of us have had a time in our lives that we have felt lonely.
Elvis sang about the feeling with his hit song, “Are you lonesome tonight”. It would be hard to believe that Elvis knew anything about being lonely, but I’m sure there were times in his life that he did.
In our text we read the last chapter of the last writing of the Apostle Paul. Paul was a huge part of the beginning of the Church. He wrote about 2/3 of the New Testament. He went from being the chief persecutor to the chief advocate of Jesus Christ. But now his race was almost over. His time was almost done. He was getting ready to be executed by Nero. In verse 7 he states, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”.
Paul new his time was coming to an end. With all the good he had done, as many who looked up and admired him; I see a sense of loneliness in his farewell letter.
If this great Apostle of Christ can have a moment in his life that he felt lonely then I’m sure that all of us have had times where we feel lonely as well.
So why do you think Paul was feeling lonely?
He was lonely because of where he was
You have to look at where he was to understand his circumstances.
Where he was in his life? He had never been married, so there were no kids. There was no mention of any family in his life. Paul was getting up there in years.
He had completed three missionary journeys; and had been put in a dungeon for his preaching and now he was waiting for his execution. The dungeon was cold, dark, and damp. He asked them to bring his cloak (vs. 13) for warmth.
He was preparing to die and though I’ve never experienced death, I imagine it is a lonely road, one that many fear.
So here he was. Cold and preparing for death in a dungeon.
Have you ever been in a dungeon? Have there been times in your life that you feel all alone. Maybe your dungeon has been coming home to find that your child that you have raised and nurtured from birth, just told you where to go and stormed out the door. Maybe you came home only to find out that your spouse has left you. This world is full of dungeons and things to make you feel lonely.
Paul felt lonely in his dungeon and there will be times in your dungeon you will too.
He was Lonely because of who he was with (vs.9)
He would have been on death row, as we would know it; no other cellmates and his only company would have been the soldiers who would mock him.
He speaks of the ones who have left him. “Demas has forsaken me, having loved the present world”. Demas was a trusted coworker who had fled because he could not endure the hardships of the ministry and instead he followed worldly pleasures. Has a friend or a loved one ever betrayed you? How did that make you feel? Did you feel alone the way that Paul felt here?
I can tell you that you can be lonely and have a lot of friends. You can be lonely and be around a lot of people. If you have ever gone through a divorce, you might have experienced loneliness. I’ve seen someone who lost a spouse or a child who have felt lonely. I can tell you from experience when I was dating that there were times that I had a different girl every night and yet I felt lonely. Why, because I did not have anyone that I cared about. I was lonely but never alone. Have you ever felt that way?
I find it interesting who he asks Timothy to bring (vs.11-12). Mark as you may remember was the one who deserted Paul in the first missionary journey, which led to the separation of Paul and Barnabas in the beginning of his second missionary journey. But latter Paul and Mark were reconciled, and Mark served with Paul in the ministry.
Paul didn’t carry a grudge, which should be a lesson for us all.