Summary: How to overcome loneliness
This morning we are going to look at what loneliness is, four cause of loneliness that even the Apostle Paul experienced and four solutions he applied that we can too
Loneliness is defined as "separation anxiety caused by feeling disconnected" or in simpler terms - an unwelcome emotion caused by feeling alone and isolated. You don't have to be on your own to feel lonely. I can remember a painful New Years Eve parties feeling lonely, but surrounded by friends who were all couples. You can have 568 Facebook friends and be lonely as the viral poem video says. You can be in a crowd of 100,000 people and be lonely.
It's not a sin to be lonely - as we will see in a moment the Apostle Paul wrote about feeling lonely in 2 Tim 4. It's what you do with it.
Do things to get love and attention that are unhelpful or sinful - affair, pornography, use a prostitute
Spend money to fill the void
So let's look at near the end of Paul's ministry when he is in a dungeon in Rome, awaiting his fate. 2 Tim 4:6-22
Here's four causes of loneliness
1) Stage of life change v6
"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering and the time has come for my departure"
Paul was in the last season of his life, for him in a dungeon awaiting trial in Rome. He is asking Timothy to come visit him.
Transitions between seasons of life often bring seasons of loneliness. Moving school can be lonely, moving home, area or country can be lonely. Starting or finishing college or university can be lonely. The death of a loved one can be lonely.
Transitional times when you have left one reality to start another can be lonely. Looking back I was loneliest when we moved to Milton Keynes when I was 14 and when I finished uni and went from being with friends nearly 24/7 to back home where I had few friends.
That's why church family is so important - we often talk about the power of the second family. Just like Ruth who told he mother in law - Your God will be my God and your people will be my people. That's why as a Church we love top gather the nations together as family - so that people thousands of miles from family get to be part of family. It was heart-warming to be thanked by Amanda's mum for the way we looked after Amanda when she had her Appendix out.
2) Separation v9
The second cause of loneliness is similar to the first - separation. Being separated from family and friends can cause deep loneliness. Paul in this passage only had Luke with him (who was busying getting the stories for Acts!). Demas has deserted him, going all worldly, but others have gone on in good ways to get on with the mission Crescens, Titus and Tychicus. So Paul wants Timothy to come quickly and to bring Mark with him.
Today we can Skype - made me laugh hearing two 10yr olds coming out of school saying Skype me! Skype's for connecting with Kees & Sarah in China, Gert & Dorien in Holland! We can email, text, facetime, hangout on Google! We can get on a train or a plane and be thousands of miles away to connect with people in a few hours. In Paul's days it would have taken months. Twice Paul asks Timothy to come v9 and v13 -do you best to get here before winter with my coat! Time is running out and he really wants to see Timothy and Mark and enjoy companionship.
Who could you call? Who could you Skype? Who could you visit? I sometimes go on crazy trips with Maurice to visit church planters in Europe - on their own, lonely, battling it out. He often says they go a couple of months from a visit.
3) Opposition v14
Paul faced opposition - here from Alexander the metalworker. It's probably the same guy that Paul kicked out of the church in 1 Tim 1:20 and even the same one in Acts 19:33 where the Ephesian idol makers were loosing business because people were turning to Christ.
being opposed, resisted, misunderstood is a lonely place to be. Jesus told us we are blessed when people insult you, persecute you and say all kinds of false things about you. We are blessed, but that doesn't necessarily take away the loneliness.
The temptation is to draw yourself into a shell and put up the walls. But that only makes one lonelier.
So we have transitions between seasons of life, separation, opposition all as reasons for loneliness - here's a fourth
4) Rejection v16