Summary: A true follower of Jesus will defeat loneliness because he will love and have other followers at his side.

Title: Loneliness

Place: BLCC

Date: 2/18/18

Text: Genesis 2.18; 1 Samuel 23.16-17

Middle-Aged Men, Biggest Threat: [Screen 1] Loneliness

Dr. Richard S. Schwartz, a Cambridge psychiatrist who has studied the problem of loneliness in America, notes that over four decades of studies have shown the devastating consequences of loneliness.

Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke and the progression of Alzheimer's. One study found that it can be as much of a long-term risk factor as smoking. In 2015, a huge study using data from 3.5 million people collected over 35 years, found that those who fall into the categories of loneliness, isolation, or even simply living on their own see their risk of premature death rise 26 to 32 percent.

But Schwartz also concludes that many people have a hard time admitting that they are lonely. He says, "Admitting you're lonely feels very much like admitting you're a loser. Psychiatry has worked hard to de-stigmatize things like depression, and to a large part it has been successful. People are comfortable saying they're depressed. But they're not comfortable saying they're lonely, because you're the kid sitting alone in the cafeteria."

Adapted from Billy Baker, "The Biggest Threat Facing Middle-Aged Men Isn't Smoking Or Obesity. It's Loneliness." Boston Globe (3/9/2017)

LS: A true follower of Jesus will defeat loneliness because he will love and have other followers at his side.

When God created the world, He declared that everything was good. The sun, the earth, the moon, and the stars—all good. He was pleased with the animals, pleased with the mountains, pleased with the oceans, and pleased with the trees.

Above all, God was most proud of His best work: man. All was good—except one thing. “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone’ ” (Genesis 2:18).

Loneliness was the fly in God’s otherwise perfect ointment—a problem He fixed by doubling the human population from one to two (and opening the way for centuries of arguments over who gets to hold the remote control).

But don’t miss this important point: God designed people to need each other. So, if it’s not good to be alone, I have one question: Why do I feel lonely so much of the time?

Loneliness is a weird thing. If you’re like me, you can stand in a crowded room and feel alone. You can have people near your person, but far from your heart. You can be the life of the party and still be relationally bankrupt.

I’ve talked to married people aching for intimacy, kids who crave real friendships, teenagers who battle feelings of isolation. Countless, single adults, who long for married companionship. Many older people feel abandoned, forgotten.

Even leaders—you know, the ones who seem to have it all together—often feel lost in the hollowness of their souls. And God hates it. It’s not good for men or women to be alone.

Why is God so passionate about loneliness? He deeply values relationships. He knows us better than we know ourselves. So He wants us to come to Him by sharing His love with one another. Even though God wants us to be together intimately many struggle with thoughts like:

No one understands me.

Does anyone really care about me?

If I died, would it matter?

No one knows the real me…and if they did, they probably wouldn’t like me.

You may think that as a preacher I should not be lonely. I get to shake hands and say hi to about 150 people each week. I shouldn’t be lonely. I can honestly say I don’t really feel that lonely, now. My first two years were a bit different. I didn’t know everybody and you guys didn’t really know me. You had expectations of me and I knew you did. So I tried to live up to your expectations.

There are three things I came to realize, as I became a part of this church.

[Screen 2]

1. I have to perform for people. I knew if I didn’t perform, I might not last. I knew I had to do a good job. Had to not offend anyone. Say the right thing. Help the church grow but not too fast or too much. Don’t shake up the boat.

Maybe you’re a performer. As a kid in school, perhaps you tried to prove your worth by making all A’s. In your mind, a B was the same as an F.

Maybe you strove to be the best in sports, or to make the first chair in band. As an adult, maybe you want to be the boss’s favorite. Maybe you desire to become the perfect spouse or parent. So you create impossible standards for yourself and daily put on your best performance for others. The show must go on. And so does the loneliness.

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