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← What Really Ministers to Loneliness? - Tim Conway

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Showing Revision 6 created 03/06/2018 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. You know the thing about this subject
  2. is that you all can relate.
  3. Well, wait, is there anybody
    here that can't relate?
  4. Is there anybody here that's
    never experienced loneliness?
  5. Nobody's raised a hand.
  6. So, ok, if you've all experienced it,
  7. define it for me.
  8. Lack of companionship.
  9. Now, is lack of companionship loneliness?
  10. Not necessarily.
  11. Is it related?
  12. It's related.
  13. Or is it that loneliness may have
  14. different types of meaning?
  15. Like I was thinking,
  16. some of you that have ever read Tolkien,
  17. you may remember a "lonely mountain."
  18. What does "lonely mountain" mean?
  19. It's by itself.
  20. Have you ever - some of you maybe,

  21. perhaps have seen the message
  22. that Charles Leiter did
  23. on the loneliness of Christ?
  24. Have any of you ever seen that message?
  25. What do you think he meant by that?
  26. If you've listened to it, where did
    Charles go with that message?
  27. What did he mean by
    the loneliness of Christ?
  28. Maybe right in line with
    what Ken just said.
  29. No companionship.
  30. How did Christ not have companionship?
  31. I mean in what way was He void?
  32. How was Christ lonely?
  33. There's nobody who could
    be sympathetic with Him,
  34. because nobody else was like Him.
  35. Nobody else was headed down a road -
  36. you remember when He's trying to tell
  37. His disciples about the fact
  38. that He was going to Jerusalem
  39. and there, He was
    going to suffer for sin.
  40. What were they doing?
  41. They were arguing about who
    was going to be the greatest.
  42. When He's in the garden
  43. sweating great drops of blood,
  44. what are they doing?
  45. They're barely able to stay awake.
  46. The idea was that He
    had nobody sympathetic.
  47. He was alone with regards to anybody else
  48. who could identify with His situation.
  49. Now, typically, when we
    think about loneliness,

  50. what are we thinking about?
  51. Are we thinking about:
  52. there is nobody else who
    can identify with me?
  53. Perhaps.
  54. But what do we typically
    mean by loneliness?
  55. (from the room) Lack of attention?
  56. Tim: Maybe.
  57. But I can tell you this,
  58. there are people in this world
  59. who we might call "loners,"
  60. who like to be alone,
  61. and when they're out watching the sunset -
  62. I mean, there's lots of
    times I can remember
  63. growing up and being in the woods hunting
  64. all by myself -
  65. maybe a few creatures of God's making
  66. are roaming around out there.
  67. But I'm far outside of earshot
  68. of any human being besides myself.
  69. And I didn't feel lonely.
  70. And yet there are people who are married,
  71. and yet they feel lonely.
  72. There are people in a crowd -
  73. you can have somebody go to a fellowship
  74. and experience loneliness.
  75. So what do we mean?

  76. What happens when we feel lonely?
  77. Notice that. Notice the
    word I'm saying there.
  78. We feel.
  79. It's got to do with how we feel
  80. so much of the time.
  81. It's subjective.
  82. Right? Loneliness is subjective.
  83. You can take a person
  84. and put them out in a barren place
  85. and they don't feel lonely.
  86. And you can put them in a crowd
  87. and a person can feel lonely.
  88. It doesn't have to do with whether
  89. they're among people or not among people.
  90. Now, it can be related
    to that undoubtedly.
  91. The loneliness of Christ -
  92. nobody was able to sympathize.
  93. Alone.
  94. There's an idea where you don't have
  95. somebody sympathetic,
  96. and there can be a
    loneliness in that sense
  97. that nobody else can identify
  98. with the situation that I'm in.
  99. And there's definitely a connection
  100. with the kind of loneliness that we feel.
  101. We can feel like there's nobody
  102. to communicate with;
  103. there's nobody to get close with;
  104. there's nobody to fellowship with;
  105. there's no companionship.
  106. There was no companion of Christ
  107. that was His equal or
    that could sympathize
  108. or that knew what He was going through.
  109. There was nobody for Him to relate to.
  110. That's the idea.
  111. And loneliness is that. We feel that.
  112. A wife can feel lonely even though
  113. she's married to a man.
  114. Why? Because she feels distant.
  115. She feels like there's no communication.
  116. She feels like there's no
    companionship there.
  117. Isn't it amazing? God made us social.

  118. Have you ever thought
    about how amazing it is
  119. that we can even feel lonely?
  120. We can feel that.
  121. God made us that way.
  122. God made us social creatures.
  123. I doubt that there's a loner
  124. on the face of this earth
  125. that truly desires to be isolated
  126. and exclusively without any interaction
  127. with other people.
  128. Now they may say it.
  129. They're trying ot protect themselves.
  130. They may say they like it,
  131. but I don't think there's
    anybody that really likes it.
  132. I believe God has made us social.
  133. Because the greatest loner in here
  134. didn't raise his hand when I asked
  135. if there was anybody
    who's ever felt loneliness
  136. or hasn't felt it.
  137. Nobody raised their hand.
  138. Now maybe somebody's
    not just wanting to be
  139. brought to attention here,
  140. but I think the reason
    nobody raised your hand
  141. is because you're all being honest.
  142. You've all experienced loneliness.
  143. And the thing about it is
  144. it can be one of the sorest trials
  145. that God can put His people to.
  146. Loneliness can be a trial
  147. of immense proportion.
  148. And so I want us to talk
    about loneliness tonight.

  149. How do we deal with it?
  150. How do we deal with it if
    we're the one feeling lonely?
  151. How do we help others
    who are feeling lonely?
  152. Let me ask this.

  153. What is it that truly
    ministers to loneliness?
  154. Because you can be in
    a crowd and be lonely.
  155. You can be married and have kids
  156. and be lonely.
  157. So what is it that really
    ministers to loneliness?
  158. What ministers to it?
  159. Tell me from your own experience.
  160. Everybody here is admitting to having felt
  161. and experienced the difficulty,
  162. the trial of loneliness.
  163. What is it that actually helps?
  164. What is it that alleviates it?
  165. What is it that causes it to go away?
  166. A listening ear.
  167. So somebody willing to invest time in you.
  168. Quality time.
  169. Because to have a listening ear
  170. means what?
  171. What does a listening ear indicate?
  172. What does it communicate?
  173. You're willing to carry their burden.
  174. Somebody cares.
  175. So it's got to do with
    relationship on that level, right?
  176. That somebody actually comes along
  177. who shows you that they care.
  178. So in other words, bodily presence
  179. doesn't make loneliness
    go away necessarily.
  180. It's somebody who cares.
  181. It's somebody who loves you.
  182. It's somebody who invests in your life.
  183. Right?
  184. Somebody you know
    who's thinking about you.
  185. I mean, my wife likes that.
  186. She just likes to know
    I'm thinking about her
  187. when I'm not with her.
  188. Because isn't there a loneliness in that?
  189. I was just heading out the door today

  190. and Letty and Jordan were walking by.
  191. And I was telling them about when I was
  192. just down in Corpus Christi
    on Saturday night.
  193. I mean, some of the most hellish things
  194. were bombarding me when I was down there.
  195. And the thought crossed my mind:
  196. Oh no, I wonder if
    nobody's praying for me.
  197. And then today I looked at all my emails
  198. and it was interesting
    how many of the people -
  199. I had bunches of emails from being gone
  200. over the weekend - and how many
  201. of the people said they
    were praying for me.
  202. That matters.
  203. To know people are thinking about you;
  204. to know that people love you;
  205. to know that people are willing
  206. to lend that ear or
    to invest or they care.
  207. I mean, can you imagine people
  208. behind the scenes - like the Apostle Paul
  209. who you knew were willing to be
  210. thrown into hell for you?
  211. He wished himself accursed
  212. and cut off from Christ.
  213. There's something about that.
  214. Loneliness - so much goes hand in hand
  215. with just feeling that you're forgotten.
  216. Right?
  217. Nobody's thinking about you.
  218. To have that feeling -
  219. nobody really cares about me.
  220. But now let's make a connection here
  221. that as a Christian, is that true?
  222. "For He careth for you..."
  223. You know, during those three years

  224. that I was single,
  225. although loneliness was probably
  226. the most bitter trial that I endured
  227. through those three years,
  228. and the sharpest loneliness
  229. that I have experienced in almost
  230. the 25 years that I've been a Christian -
  231. I also had seasons of the greatest
  232. closeness to Christ.
  233. And there's nothing comparable.
  234. No relationship in this
    world can compare to that.
  235. And here's one of the things.
  236. As much as I want to stress
  237. that we need to have our eyes open
  238. to those who are lonely,
  239. and seek to minister -
  240. like I know James,
  241. I can see him right ahead of me -
  242. but I know James went and got married.
  243. He knew what the single life was like.
  244. He went and got married.
  245. And on a regular basis now,
  246. they're having people over to their house
  247. and they're showing hospitality.
  248. You know if you've come
    through those lonely years
  249. that's a good way to respond.
  250. We need to be mindful.
  251. We need to be thinking about
  252. who those are that will be lonely
  253. and help to bear the burden;
  254. help to come in and
    alleviate that loneliness.
  255. Remember, love is going to do that.

  256. Love is going to treat others
  257. the way it wants to be treated.
  258. And because you've all
    experienced loneliness,
  259. I just want to say this.
  260. There is a real tendency to the self-pity
  261. I think that Martha brought up.
  262. You know what happens?
  263. I can remember this.
  264. I can remember that one of
    the young people in the church,
  265. he was feeling lonely.
  266. He was feeling self-pity.
  267. He got sick.
  268. And he went and spent time
  269. with his former girlfriend who's lost.
  270. I said, brother, what are you doing?
  271. He said well, nobody in the church
  272. ever made soup for me
  273. when I got sick.
  274. And I said to him, brother,
  275. when's the last time you made soup
  276. for anybody in the church?
  277. He never had.
  278. And you know one of the problems
  279. that can happen especially when
  280. we have a church full of single people?
  281. Not exclusively, but
    lots of single people?
  282. Is you can get all the single people
  283. on a self-pity binge
  284. where nobody's thinking about anybody else
  285. because they're thinking:
  286. I'm lonely. Woe is me.
  287. And you're going along and
    you're thinking about
  288. what other people don't do for you,
  289. when probably one of the greatest ways
  290. out of loneliness is not to wait
  291. for other people to come along to you.
  292. Now, they should.
  293. We do have a responsibility to one another
  294. and we need to be seeking out one another.
  295. But if you're in a situation
    where you're lonely,
  296. rather than allowing self-pity
  297. to rule the day,
  298. take that loneliness -
  299. much the way Ruby and I can
  300. remembering back -
  301. and we're not in a good place, I know,
  302. with regards to the hospitality thing.
  303. But I'm hoping, Lord willing,
  304. my responsibilities in Austin
    are going to be alleviated
  305. and I'm hoping that Thursday nights
  306. are going to very quickly become
  307. one of our nights that we can
  308. begin to reach out to
    people more that way.
  309. But, I just want you single
    people to be thinking

  310. that if you know loneliness,
  311. you've experienced loneliness,
  312. don't let that hurt;
  313. don't let that experience drive you
  314. into the realms of self-pity.
  315. Let it drive you to show
    compassion to others.
  316. Let it drive you in feeling
    your own pain from it
  317. to go do what this guy didn't do.
  318. I mean, rather than feeling the self-pity
  319. that no member of the
    church ever made him soup,
  320. let it be a trigger in your own mind:
  321. I ought to make soup for people
  322. when they get sick.
  323. You might find that the visitations
  324. that you receive from Christ
  325. in the midst of keeping His commandments
  326. very much akin to like John 14:23
  327. when He's talking about
    manifesting Himself;
  328. making His abode
    (v. 21, 23 there in John 14).
  329. But what's it connected with?
  330. Keeping His commandments.
  331. It's doing the things that please Him.
  332. Do you think it pleases Him
  333. when we pour out ourselves for others?
  334. Do you think He's likely
    to fill your cup
  335. so that you can minister to others
  336. as you're seeking to pour
    yourself out for others?
  337. Certainly, we have promises all
    through the Scriptures like that.
  338. And see, the thing is we can react
  339. to our loneliness in a wrong way.
  340. "Woe is me."
  341. We can react that way.
  342. And we can even deepen that loneliness
  343. by feeling like nobody
    else can sympathize.
  344. And look at everybody else.
  345. Everybody else gets this
    or everybody else gets that.
  346. Nobody's doing this for me
  347. and God hasn't given this to me.
  348. And we can compound it with self-pity.
  349. But that's not the way to respond.
  350. You see, Paul talked about comfort;

  351. being comforted.
  352. I think we can comfort one another,
  353. and as we comfort one another,
  354. I think we can expect and experience
  355. the comfort that comes from the Lord.
  356. And as He comforts us
  357. and He comes visit us,
  358. we can again in turn seek to comfort
  359. others with the comfort whereby
  360. He's comforted us.
  361. We're learning - constantly learning
  362. and pouring ourselves out that way.
  363. Have any of you actually been

  364. in a situation where you're
    experiencing loneliness,
  365. and other than somebody coming along
  366. and spending time with you,
  367. lending you an ear -
  368. which that's good and we need to be
  369. ministering to one another in that way.
  370. But let me ask you this.
  371. Have any of you experienced loneliness
  372. and ever had somebody speak truth
  373. to you in a way and biblically whereby
  374. you found your loneliness dispelled?
  375. Is there any truth that's
    helped any of you
  376. in the midst of loneliness?
  377. (from the room)
  378. I've been going through
    loneliness in the past year.
  379. And a passage that's helped
    me is 1 Corinthians 7:35.
  380. (unintelligible)
  381. Tim: Give your loneliness.
  382. But is that loneliness or that aloneness?
  383. How do you take that?
  384. When you used the word
    loneliness right there,
  385. how did you mean it?
  386. (unintelligible)
  387. How many have in some way or another -
  388. those of you who are single
  389. or you remember being single,
  390. how many of you have found any help
  391. in that verse?
  392. (from the room)
  393. What was the verse again?
  394. Tim: It was a text out of 1 Corinthians 7
  395. where it speaks about the usefulness
  396. of being single.
  397. And Jeremy was just bringing together
  398. the idea that - look, there is
  399. the gift of singleness
    that's described there.
  400. I reckon, but even if
    you don't have the gift,
  401. the very same thing
    that can be accomplished
  402. by having the gift, can be accomplished
  403. if you don't have the gift,
  404. but are single in the fact that what?
  405. Rather than giving your time to a husband
  406. or giving your time to a wife,
  407. you are able to what?
  408. In an undivided fashion,
  409. give yourself to the Lord.
  410. And if you don't have a gift of singleness
  411. but you're in that situation,
  412. it's likely going to compound
  413. your loneliness if you're really desiring
  414. to be married and you're not,
  415. that can tend to compound that loneliness.
  416. And yet, what Jeremy is saying is
  417. that is a season that
    rather than succumbing
  418. to the woe-is-me attitude;
  419. rather than succumbing to the self-pity,
  420. that that is a time in
    life when you can be
  421. especially fruitful and
    give yourself to the Lord.
  422. That's what I'm wanting
    to hit on right now.
  423. We need to minister to one another.
  424. We need to get involved
    in one another's lives.
  425. We need to have an eye for the people
  426. in the church who are most likely
  427. prone to loneliness.
  428. We need to be reaching out
  429. and loving one another
  430. and doing what we
    ourselves would want done.
  431. But I'm really wanting to focus in

  432. on some truth that really helps.
  433. I mean, really helps.
  434. We can often throw truth out.
  435. But, we're talking about
    deepest needs here.
  436. We're talking about deep longings.
  437. We're talking about deep trial,
  438. struggle, pain.
  439. Loneliness is a pain.
  440. We feel it. It cuts.
  441. It's hard to endure.
  442. And if there are truths that really help -
  443. they really help -
  444. I want to know what they are.
  445. Martha.

  446. (from the room) I struggled
    with loneliness a lot.
  447. Probably the thing that's
    helped me the most
  448. has been Psalm 50:23.
  449. Tim: Psalm 50:23.
  450. "The one who offers thanksgiving
  451. as his sacrifice glorifies Me."
  452. Bear in mind that
  453. where I'd gone in sinful self-pity
  454. is just all about me.
  455. When I turn my mind to thanksgiving
  456. towards the Lord,
  457. (unintelligible)
  458. My thoughts aren't toward myself,
  459. but giving thanksgiving towards the Lord.
  460. That's when He comes
    and there's joy there.
  461. Tim: But did you catch that?

  462. She gives thanks. What's she doing?
  463. She's communing with the Lord.
  464. And she said that's when He comes
  465. and the cloud lifts.
  466. You see, as a Christian, we're not alone.

  467. We may experience loneliness,
  468. but we're not alone.
  469. Not only are we not alone,
  470. we have a Savior who bids us
  471. do things like this:
  472. "I stand at the door and knock."
  473. He says if anyone opens to Me,
  474. I will come in and eat with them.
  475. I'll sit across the
    spiritual table from you
  476. and I'll fellowship with you.
  477. "My Father and I will make
    our abode with you."
  478. "I will manifest Myself to you."
  479. Those texts right there ought to help you.
  480. Because when you're
    experiencing loneliness,
  481. you can take that pain
  482. and you can pour it out,
  483. because Jesus can sympathize.
  484. One of the ways we feel lonely
  485. is we feel nobody can sympathize.
  486. Nobody could sympathize with Christ
  487. because He walked a path
    no one else has walked.
  488. But I'll tell you this about His path.
  489. Everywhere you've walked was on that path.
  490. Now His path went
    beyond where you've gone,
  491. but it hasn't gone short
    of where you've gone.
  492. Everything you've experienced,
  493. every trial you've tasted,
  494. every bit of loneliness
    that you have felt,
  495. He felt.
  496. Can you imagine?
  497. I'm going to the cross
  498. to pay the massive debt owed for sin.
  499. You say something to the guys.
  500. They're arguing about who's
    going to be the greatest.
  501. He's going to die for them.
  502. He's going to pour out His life's blood.
  503. He's going to be crushed
    under the wrath of God.
  504. He's going to Calvary.
  505. He's got to go by way of Gethsemane
  506. where the very anguish of it -
  507. He said that He was nigh unto death.
  508. This thing is going to bring Him
  509. under such turmoil of soul,
  510. that even just in the garden,
  511. imagining the cup that He
    needs to put to His lips,
  512. (incomplete thought)
  513. God is just sustaining Him.
  514. It's the only thing that keeps
  515. His soul from separating from His body
  516. right at that point.
  517. He's under such distress,
  518. sweating as it were great drops of blood.
  519. He's not even to the cross yet.
  520. And He's telling His disciples
  521. back down the road,
  522. I'm heading to Jerusalem,
  523. and this is going to happen to Me.
  524. His God is going to forsake Him.
  525. And they're arguing about
  526. who's going to be the greatest.
  527. Do you think that was a lonely road?
  528. These guys don't get it.
  529. These guys cannot relate.
  530. And then when He's actually
    on the eve of the cross,
  531. here He is and He's under such anguish.
  532. It's twisting the very inner being
  533. with the turmoils of the coming cross
  534. where He'll be poured out like water.
  535. And He looks over and
    there they are asleep.
  536. They can't pray.
  537. It's a lonely road.
  538. And He's gone places none of us
  539. can ever imagine.
  540. But the thing is, He was made like us
  541. in every respect
  542. and He feels what we feel.
  543. And so He can be sympathetic.
  544. See, the thing is, when
    your pain is most sharp,
  545. you can boldly approach
    the throne of grace
  546. and you can know there
    is a sympathetic High Priest
  547. who has felt what you're feeling,
  548. and there's help.
  549. If there's anything you ought to be able
  550. to take courage in, it's that.
  551. There is grace to help in time of need.
  552. Like I say, if you will go
    pour out yourself in love;
  553. if you'll think "woe is me,"
  554. why doesn't somebody (fill in the blank)?
  555. Oh... maybe I should go do that.
  556. Maybe I should be doing that.
  557. (incomplete thought)
  558. Now look, if there's an elderly widow

  559. and she just can't get out;
  560. she can't do those things,
  561. that's another thing.
  562. She ought to be a special object
  563. of the church's attention
    when it comes to this.
  564. But when you're young and single,
  565. you have energy.
  566. You have cars.
  567. You have legs that are strong.
  568. You can run somewhere.
  569. You can help others.
  570. You can pour yourself out for others.
  571. You can minister to others.
  572. And you know, I have it on good authority
  573. that if you pour yourself out for others,
  574. God will pour Himself out for you.
  575. Have you ever seen any
    promise like that in Scripture?
  576. (from the room)
  577. I was thinking 2 Corinthians.
  578. He's the Father of mercies
    and God of comfort,
  579. and the reality in my life -
  580. my experience in times of loneliness
  581. is when it's like the self-pity thing too,
  582. but the most comfort I find is when
  583. I am pouring myself out for others -
  584. people who have needs or are struggling.
  585. And taking my eyes off myself
  586. and not be introspective is when
  587. the Lord has really blessed me
  588. in some supernatural way
  589. and comforted me because I'm not
  590. thinking of myself and
    thinking of others' needs.
  591. Tim: I can remember those years

  592. that I got involved in Little
    Brother Little Sister program.
  593. I got involved with a
    juvenile home situation.
  594. But get involved in those things.
  595. And you know what?
    I got involved in sports.
  596. There was a church league softball,
  597. church league volleyball.
  598. I got involved in that.
  599. And I got involved in as many
    Bible studies as I could.
  600. You know what?

  601. I'm not surprised on Tuesday nights
  602. that the vast majority of you are single.
  603. I know why that is.
  604. Loneliness compels you to want to be
  605. where other young people are.
  606. I know. I was there.
  607. I remember the Friday night Bible study
  608. that I used to go to.
  609. I can't remember anybody in
    that class that was married.
  610. But that's a good way to do it.
  611. Don't forsake the assembling
    together of the brethren.
  612. Don't do that.
  613. You need that.
  614. When there's meetings like this, be there.
  615. I understand when people get married.
  616. They start having to
    work at their marriage,
  617. and they start having to raise kids
  618. that they don't come on Tuesday nights.
  619. I understand that.
  620. But this is a good place to come.
  621. But not only to receive.
  622. It's good to be where
    other young people are.
  623. It's good to be where other singles are.
  624. It's good to come out
    into social environments.
  625. But you know what?
  626. When you do that,
  627. invest your life in others.
  628. Don't be the quiet guy
  629. that stands over in the corner.
  630. I understand that some people are quiet.
  631. I'm naturally quiet.
  632. But love will invest
    itself in other people
  633. even if you're not the most
    socially smooth person.
  634. And other people will appreciate it.
  635. They really will.
  636. There are lots of people in this world
  637. that will appreciate your efforts.
  638. But go visit the nursing home.

  639. There's Big Brother,
    Little Brother programs.
  640. There's all sorts of places that you can
  641. invest your lives in needy people,
  642. needy seniors, needy children,
  643. others that we talked about -
  644. the impaired, the handicapped,
  645. people that are in wheelchairs,
  646. people who are especially
    prone to loneliness.
  647. Pour yourselves out for others.
  648. Don't waste this single part of your life
  649. just in self-pity and "woe is me."
  650. Really take advantage;
  651. really take opportunity to get
  652. the best mileage out of this season
  653. of your life.
  654. Redeem the time, right?
  655. The days are evil.
  656. Redeem the time.
  657. Don't add more evil to it
    by all your self-pity.
  658. And in all of this,

  659. if there's anything that's comforting,
  660. I mean, I find it comforting now
  661. when I experience the bitterest of trials.
  662. And I experience trials now stronger than
  663. those that I experienced back then
  664. of loneliness.
  665. But one thing that's an anchor
  666. is this truth that we've
    seen from Hebrews 12.
  667. His suffering isn't random.
  668. His suffering that He brings
    in our life has purpose.
  669. It's not just happening by chance.
  670. God is designing it with purpose.
  671. I can know that.
  672. I need this trial.
  673. Why?
  674. Because He's imparting His holiness to me.
  675. I need this to be more like Christ.
  676. I mean, if we can really come to grips
  677. with there is a Vine-dresser,
  678. and I am a branch, and He prunes.
  679. And like Charles Leiter says,
  680. the vine-dresser is never closer
  681. to the vine than when he's pruning.
  682. And if we can really know,
  683. wow, there's a hand of a
    God who loves me so much -
  684. remember, He's not going to
    withhold any good thing.
  685. any good thing.
  686. Not one.
  687. And if the greatest
    good thing in your life
  688. right now is loneliness,
    then you'll have it.
  689. If it's a husband, you'll have it.
  690. If it's loneliness, you'll have that.
  691. You know what, as bad as I wanted

  692. to be married those first three years,
  693. I was not ready to be married.
  694. In fact, sometimes I wonder still
  695. if I'm ready to be married.
  696. But I was not ready.
  697. I'm not saying it's been easy for Ruby
  698. after those three years,
  699. but I recognize, I wasn't ready.
  700. And God recognized that.
  701. That loneliness was necessary
  702. for that given season.
  703. And so is all of our suffering.
  704. And just to come to the place
  705. where we really recognize,
  706. wow, I have a loving Father.
  707. Remember? Do you remember
    that from Hebrews 12?
  708. This is evidence of His love.
  709. Not that He dislikes me,
  710. but that I am an object of His love.
  711. He says in other places
    the apple of His eye.
  712. We are the ones that He had His Son
  713. shed His blood for.
  714. Do you remember the
    argument of Romans 8:32?
  715. If you get the biggest, best,
  716. most valuable -
  717. if you get that,
  718. how is He going to withhold
    any lesser thing from you?
  719. He's not.
  720. And He's never going to let anything
  721. come along to harm you.
  722. Everything works together for your good.
  723. He's only going to give
    you good in this life.
  724. Now, it doesn't always feel good.
  725. Loneliness does not feel good.
  726. But you know what loneliness is doing?
  727. Day in, day out?
  728. It's like those pruning shears.
  729. It's like the fire that the
    silver gets put in to
  730. and it comes out and
    the dross is skimmed off.
  731. It's put back in and out, in and out,
  732. and in and out.
  733. And every time, more dross is coming off.
  734. And it's from one degree
    of glory to another.
  735. As that's happening and
    you're beholding Christ
  736. and you're being made to suffer
  737. and you're keeping your eyes on Christ
  738. and back and forth it goes.
  739. And you continue communing with Him,
  740. and even though it is a bitter trial,
  741. by degrees - from one
    degree of glory to another,
  742. you are being transformed
    into the image of Christ.
  743. And you're becoming more and more
  744. this object of His crafting
  745. and beautiful to behold.
  746. Purer and purer and purer.
  747. We don't like it.
    We don't like it.
  748. None of us wants loneliness.
  749. None of us wants pain.
  750. None of us wants to suffer.
  751. Why don't we want pain?
    Because it's painful.
  752. It hurts.
  753. And none of us choose it.
  754. We all would choose Christlikeness,
  755. but none of us want to choose the path
  756. that God has designed for it to come.
  757. But if we can really
    just come to recognize,

  758. God loves me.
  759. And it's hard. It's hard.
  760. Because we look at:
  761. you're a young lady,
  762. and you see another young lady,
  763. she gets a husband.
  764. And you feel like:
  765. God loves her. Not me.
  766. But that's not true.
  767. If you're children of God,
  768. God loves you both.
  769. And the truth is that oftentimes -
  770. well, we know it.
  771. Nobody's going to say they
    made their greatest strides
  772. in Christlikeness when
    everything was good.
  773. And the reality is, as much as
  774. a godly wife is a gift of God;
  775. as much as a godly husband
  776. is a gift of God and
    definitely to be cherished,
  777. it may be that those of
    you that don't get that
  778. but get the suffering
    and trial of loneliness,
  779. you're making advances
    towards Christlikeness
  780. at a pace that other people may not be.
  781. And in God's timing - He knows
    the perfect timing for all.

  782. And He knows the seasons
  783. when it's going to be difficult.
  784. But before you always see
  785. the grass greener on the other side,
  786. you do need to know
  787. that I've met more than one person
  788. that when they got married,
  789. the real trials started.
  790. So, before you think your own case
  791. so desperate and so to be loathed,
  792. I know more than one person
  793. that would love to be single again
  794. after getting married.
  795. Anything else? Any truth

  796. that you have specifically found
  797. genuinely helpful?
  798. And you see, we talked about this,
  799. did we not?
  800. That part of loneliness is when you think
  801. everybody's forgotten you.
  802. You know the problem we have
  803. with what James just said
  804. is there's a difference when
  805. I'm at my desk and my wife comes in
  806. and sits on my lap
  807. and we have a face to face conversation.
  808. Or we hug each other.
  809. There's a difference in that
  810. and us going into this book,
  811. into one of the Old Testament prophets
  812. and reading it.
  813. What's the difference?
  814. One's by sight. One's by faith.
  815. There's a difference.
  816. One requires faith.
  817. We need to believe it's true.
  818. But look, faith isn't an artificial thing.
  819. Faith really does lay hold
    on the promises of God
  820. and it believes them.
  821. So by faith, we believe.
  822. We believe that He's there
  823. and we believe that He cares.
  824. I mean, that matters.
  825. That's not useless.
  826. It's different, but it's not useless.
  827. It's not like it's of none effect.
  828. It is.
  829. And just remember this,
  830. just remember this:
  831. That even though there's a difference
  832. between believing that
  833. and having my wife come into my office
  834. and sit on my lap,
  835. it's very experiential
  836. when Jesus Christ manifests Himself to us.
  837. Somebody read John 14:21.
  838. Because I think this is really important.
  839. Because in times of loneliness,
  840. where we are lacking the companionship
  841. with other human beings,
  842. companionship with Christ is precious
  843. and it can be so real
  844. and it can be so manifest.
  845. Somebody read John 14:21.
  846. "Whoever has My commandments
    and keeps them,
  847. He it is who loves Me.
  848. And he who loves Me, will
    be loved by My Father,
  849. and I will love him and
    manifest Myself to him."
  850. But did you see the conditions?

  851. What are the conditions of Him
  852. manifesting Himself to us?
  853. It is for everybody?
  854. What are the conditions?
  855. Say that again?
  856. Keeping His commandments.
  857. It's really important that
  858. when you're in these
    situations of loneliness
  859. and you're being tried by that,
  860. that you don't just fall off into sin.
  861. That you're striving to love Him.
  862. That's why I think it's so important
  863. for you to pour yourselves out -
  864. when you feel loneliness -
  865. to pour yourselves out for other people.
  866. Let that be the motivator.
  867. Let that be the impetus behind you.
  868. Let that be the catalyst
  869. that sends you in the direction
  870. of visiting others
  871. and showing love for others
  872. and seeking to alleviate other suffering,
  873. especially other's loneliness.
  874. In so doing, you're
    going to be doing that.
  875. Because after all, what is it
  876. to really fulfill Christ's commandments?
  877. Isn't it love?
  878. As you're pouring yourself
    out for other people,
  879. oh, if there's something that tends
  880. to only deepen and compound loneliness,
  881. it's when you withdraw into yourself,
  882. feel self-pity,
  883. kind of isolate yourself,
  884. and don't want to reach out
  885. and help other people.
  886. That only spirals this thing downward.
  887. Any other truth that we would apply?

  888. Yeah, whoever waters
    will himself be watered.
  889. There's many places in Scripture -
  890. "with the measure that you measure,
  891. it will be measured back to you."
  892. Pour yourselves out for the hungry,
  893. you're going to cry out to the Lord,
  894. Isaiah 58 says, and God's
    going to say, "Here I am."
  895. Among many other promises there.
  896. Secure and fulfilled.

  897. She's sitting at the feet of Christ.
  898. Yeah, if you're totally
    satisfied in the Lord,
  899. it's a loneliness killer.
  900. And one other thing for God's people,
  901. this momentary, light
    affliction does what?
  902. Prepares for us an
    eternal weight of glory.
  903. You know one thing you
    can take comfort with?
  904. Your suffering is momentary.
  905. Whatever you're experiencing
  906. as far as loneliness,
  907. the day is coming soon -
  908. a few more rolling suns at most -
  909. and you will be eternally fulfilled.
  910. Look, if every tear is wiped away,
  911. every tear of loneliness is included.
  912. There is no loneliness in glory.
  913. So your suffering?

  914. It's as your life is. It's a vapor.
  915. I know it seems long now.
  916. It seems sharp now.
  917. But putting it in proper perspective.
  918. Any other Scripture?
  919. Any other truth that anybody knows?
  920. One other comment that
    I would make right here

  921. is I know - I love this -
  922. I don't remember the exact message,
  923. but I've heard Paul Washer
  924. emphasize the fact that our God
  925. is a jealous lover.
  926. And you know one of the things
  927. about those three years
  928. that God kind of put me in isolation?
  929. You know, I'm sure He did that
  930. to teach me to walk with Him.
  931. And I'll tell you, God will put you often
  932. in lonely places because He wants you
  933. to walk with Him
  934. and to commune with Him.
  935. And He may very specifically remove
  936. something from your life
  937. if you're investing too much in it
  938. or you have your hopes set too much on it.
  939. He will leave you in that place
  940. because He wants you to walk with Him
  941. and talk with Him and commune with Him
  942. and find your all in Him
  943. and find your satisfaction
  944. and find your fulfillment.
  945. And I really believe that
    during those three years,
  946. you know what, I never had
    a serious thought of marriage
  947. in my whole lost life.
  948. It never even crossed my mind.
  949. The moment God saved me,
  950. I wanted to get married.
  951. But now, for three years,
  952. God left me in a situation
  953. where that wasn't the case.
  954. And I spent many a night
  955. walking lonely fields
  956. and dirt roads.
  957. I call them lonely because I was alone.
  958. Out under the moon.
  959. But oh, the free hours
  960. to talk and walk with Christ.
  961. Walking with Him.
  962. God just putting me in a place
  963. to learn to commune with Him
  964. and to trust Him.
  965. And you have to know,
  966. God is in the business of doing just that
  967. with all of His children.
  968. He wants our heart.
    He wants our affections.
  969. He wants us satisfied in Him.
  970. He doesn't ever want to be in a position
  971. where He's saying to His child:
  972. "Here I am,"
  973. and the child is just longing -
  974. like looking over His shoulder
  975. and longing for something else
  976. and pining after, oh, I wish I had that.
  977. You know, here's God saying,
  978. "Embrace Me."
  979. "Sit down and fellowship."
  980. "Sit at My feet like Mary."
  981. "Come and embrace Me,
  982. and I will embrace you."
  983. "Come and know that
    I haven't forgotten you."
  984. "I love you. Come and
    lavish yourself in My love."
  985. And you're looking over His shoulder
  986. at some guy or at some girl
  987. or at some other situation.
  988. Let your own loneliness
  989. be a reminder - a healthy reminder -
  990. a wake up call.
  991. Let the pain of it actually produce
  992. good fruit in your life.
  993. You say, is that easy, when I'm hurting

  994. to pour out myself for others?
  995. Well, no, I know there's difficulty there.
  996. But it's very pleasing to Christ.
  997. That's what He did.
  998. He suffered on behalf of others.
  999. While He was suffering,
  1000. He gave Himself for others.
  1001. And just be mindful.
    Just be mindful.
  1002. What I wanted to do tonight

  1003. was just put loneliness on the table.
  1004. Just get us thinking about it as a church
  1005. that we really might try to help alleviate
  1006. that suffering in one another.
  1007. Father, we pray that You would give us
  1008. grace to be successful in this;
  1009. to be fruitful in this.
  1010. In Christ's name, we pray.
  1011. Amen.