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“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

It’s a verse many of us learned in Sunday School, and perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible. ‘For God so loved the world.’ What an awesome promise. What an incredible thought. Not a god, THE God. The creator and sustainer of the universe loves us. Make it more personal. He loves me. Insignificant as I am, a stubborn, selfish, weak-willed person. Yet He looks down from heaven and smiles when He sees me.

Fantastic as that truth is, so often we focus our attention on the first part of the verse and relatively little time really thinking about the next part of the verse. ‘He gave his one and only son’. If you are a parent, ask yourself, “If I knew my only child was going to be killed, what would I do to protect him/her? How much money would I spend to keep my child protected? What would I sacrifice to make sure I could enjoy my child’s presence?

It might be easy to say, “Yeah, but He’s God. Sure, He knew Jesus would die, but He also knew Jesus would rise again.” But remember that we are made in God’s image. Our emotional make-up and intellect comes from Him.

A friend of mine (I’ll call John) recently lost his infant son to a rare disease. The disease struck in the morning and took the little ones life before sundown! It was incredibly hard for the family and all those close to John. I hadn’t seen John in several months since the funeral of his one-year-old little boy. As we sat over coffee, John told me how the morning of his son’s death he’d been spoken to regarding sacrifice. “It was as if God was saying to me, ‘will you give me everything?”

John remembers thinking, I can give you everything except I have to admit I’m not sure I’d give you my son. That day God took his son from him. John learned a valuable lesson about what it must have been like for his Heavenly Father when he was separated from His only son.

When Jesus was on earth it was as though He was imprisoned in a foreign land. While His Father could see Him, the relationship was different. When Jesus was dying on the cross, even His Father turned His face from His one and only Son. That’s why, with agony Jesus screamed, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”

John 3:16 doesn’t just tell us that God loves us. It shows us that God understands what sacrifice means. When we are asked to give everything to God, it’s not an idle statement by a God that hasn’t sacrificed. He loved me so much that He literally gave the only thing He could possibly give, His only Son.

The next time you think the pain of the journey is too great; remember that Jesus endured pain beyond imagination so He could comfort you. When you wonder if you can go on, remember that Jesus’ agony was so great that He sweat great drops of blood. During those times you feel all alone, remember Jesus knew what it was like to have all of his family, and friends reject Him. Even His heavenly Father turned his back on him.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I thank you that you understand my deepest pain. Thank you that in my loneliness you are desperate to be my friend. Thank you for the promise that Your love is eternal and unconditional. I’ve made many mistakes. I struggle with trying to do the right thing. Empower me by your Spirit to learn to live the life of sacrifice for your sake. Amen.


But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10

“I believe in the sun even when it is not shining, I believe in love even when I am alone and I believe in God even when He is silent” Inscription found scratched into a wall in Germany by someone hiding from the Nazi concentration camps.

It’s easy to have faith in God when you have a surplus in your checkbook. Having faith is easy when your spouse is sensitive to all your needs; your kids are well respected, academically achieving, mature young men and women; the doctor’s report comes back favorably and the weather forecast is perfect for that outdoor picnic.

If we are really honest with ourselves, all too often the level of our faith is directly proportional to the comfort level of our lives. When things go well, God is good. When things go bad then something or someone must be wrong. We can easily start blaming others, ourselves, or even God for all the bad that happens. Sometimes we even stop believing that God exists or, if he does, is unconcerned or unable to deal with our situation.

None of us have endured the pain and agony that Job experienced. Children in his day were a sign of wealth and godliness and all ten of his kids were killed in a horrible storm. He was the richest and most generous man in the region, yet had all his wealth taken from him. His body was full of painful, itching, oozing boils for which the only medicine was to sit in a pile of ashes and scrap himself with a piece of broken pottery. His community couldn’t bear to look at him so he was ignored, his friends became his relentless critics, imploring him to turn from sin and his wife, the last person he had on earth, turned her back on him. Job was a completely broken, lonely, pain-racked man.

In the midst all this pain Job testifies to his faith in God. It’s as though he says, in a voice that almost sounds like he’s trying to convince himself, “I know that He’s there. I can’t see Him. But I know He sees me. I can’t understand what I’ve done to end up this way. I followed and obeyed Him. I’ve been a good husband and father. I’ve been generous to the poor. It doesn’t matter what people think of me. This one thing I know. When all this pain is over. When the time of His testing is done. I’ll come out of this shining like gold.

The picture of gold is a picture of refining; a picture of removing all the impurities, all the faults, all the issues that may have been in Job’s character by the cleansing heat of fire. Fire is painful and ruthless in it’s purifying of gold just as trials are ruthless in purifying our character. Enduring faith is seen in the hard times of life, when everything seems to be going downhill.

Wherever you are in life, ask God to help you grow to have enduring faith. Perhaps you’ve looked back on your life and seen many times when your decisions and lifestyle have brought on the consequences you now face. Nothing you have done or anyone else has done can keep you from enjoying the peace and comfort only God can give through His Son Jesus.

Praise Him today for the fact that someday your earthly trials will be over. Someday He will show Himself to you in ways you never thought possible. You may not be able to see Him. His ways may seem to far off for you and your pain may be too great right now. But He does love you and knows where you are and wants to walk with you through the adversity that lay ahead.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. Although I’m not in nearly as bad of shape as Job, my pain is still very real. I’ve tried to find you, but I can’t. I’ve tried to fill this void in my life with all sorts of things, even things like religion, but that hasn’t worked. I thank you that you see me where I am and love me the way I am. Help me to have enduring faith as I walk this journey called life. Show me Jesus so I can follow Him. Thank you for forgiving me, in Jesus name, Amen.


But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Psalm 31:14-15

Imagine what it must have been like for King David when he was growing up. He was the youngest in the family and, as a result, most likely the one that picked on the most. Dad was a rancher so he probably got the messiest jobs around. He may have looked forward to the day when he could shepherd the sheep like his older brothers.

Once he was old enough to shepherd he may have realized that the job wasn’t what he expected. He endured long, lonely cold nights where the only light was the fire and stars. Those nights with a full moon must have made things a little better, but the shadows and sounds of the night were still ominous for a young man of 12-14 years of age. Then, of course there was the danger of attack by wild animals and protecting the little lambs that always seemed to be wandering off into dangerous territory. Being shepherd was anything but fun!

Fast forward a few years. You see your brother coming over the hillside. He tells you the prophet is at home for sacrifice and he’s asking for you. You go home in excitement and find out YOU will be anointed as the next King of Israel. Almost before you realize the significance you are thrust into the palace where the current King Saul is trying to kill you. You end up spending many years running for your life!

David’s life was anything but boring and yet there may have been some times later in life when the thought of sitting alone on a hillside seemed mighty tempting. The weight of ruling a kingdom and raising family was as hard then as it is today.

David is referred to as ‘a man after God’s own heart’ and as a courageous warrior. Yet there are many part s of David’s life that aren’t so glorious. He made many horrible mistakes that led to people’s deaths; he sinned mightily against God and his people. His family would be considered dysfunctional by many standards.

What was it that kept David going? How could he rebound from the fear and anxiety of his life? What enabled him to get past the abuse he suffered at the hands of others and the injustice that was thrown at him? How could he forgive himself for the times he openly rebelled against God’s commands?

In the midst of all the turmoil in David’s life, one thought kept him going. David knew God. He knew he could trust Him. He knew that no matter how bad things were, God was in control. Those lonely nights on the hillside taught David that nothing, absolutely nothing happened in life by accident or coincidence. Whether the circumstances around him were a result of his own poor choices or the abusive, evil actions of someone else, his God could be trusted to deliver him.

The same is true for us today. No matter where you are in life, God has your life in His hands. If you are suffering the consequences of your own poor choices He will forgive you and walk with you through the pain. If you are suffering at the hands of an evil enemy He will protect you and empower you to withstand the attack. You can trust God. He loves you and will never ever leave you.

PRAYER: Holy God I thank you for the story of David. There have been many times in my life when I’ve felt abused, alone and scared. There have been times when I’ve doubted your existence, presence or love. Forgive me for those times when I failed to see your loving, guiding hand. As I face an uncertain future I ask that you would comfort, guide and protect me. Amen.


I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. Psalm 142:2

“I just wish he’d listen to me and not try to fix everything!”

Ever heard someone say that about someone else? Maybe they’ve said it about you? Or perhaps you’ve said those words yourself either out loud or in your mind. There are times when life seems so overwhelming and unbearable that we just need to speak our mind. We don’t need grammatical correction or advice or solutions. We just need to talk.

The problem is that as humans we have this little part of our brain that says we need to fix everything and heal everyone. The spot tends to be larger and more pronounced in the male brain but everyone has it!

It may be when a friend is going through health issues or has lost a loved one. It happens when moms, in particular, send the oldest child off to school the first day with tears in her eyes.  It can happen even during those times when you can’t put your finger on what’s bugging you but you just need to cry. Life happens and there are times when solutions, advice and judgment are unneeded, unwanted and out of place.

During one of the times when David was on the run from King Saul he hid in a cave and wrote what we know as Psalm 142. In reading the entire Psalm we read the words of a man distraught and full of all sorts of emotion. He was angry. He was afraid. He was tired. He was no doubt lonely and confused as well. But in the midst of his turmoil he remembers that there is one person he can go to when he needs to be heard.

The same is true for us today. There will be times when no one understands. There will be times when you don’t want to talk to people because you don’t want to risk getting a boat load of unwanted advice, judgment, solutions or stories about how someone else had “the same problem and they tried…”.

That’s where God comes in. It’s hard to think of God giving you His undivided attention. First of all, you can’t see Him (although He sees you from inside out). Secondly, we get this idea that with all the ‘big things’ going on in the world, He’s far too involved with wars, earthquakes and disease to be able to listen to you. (That by the way is a lie straight from Satan himself)

Your Heavenly Father never sleeps. He’s never out of touch with your needs, wants, desires and emotions. He is always available to listen and, even though He does have all the answers, He will simply listen to your words, your heart and your thoughts without judgment.

What an awesome promise to take with you today. When you fail, He supports you. When you win, He cheers for you. When you cry, He listens and holds you close.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the promises that you have given me that you will always be there for me. Thank you for understanding me when I don’t understand myself, for listening when no one else will listen, for encouraging when life is discouraging. Help me to remember that I can always come to you without fear of being ignored, judged or scolded. Amen.


Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. Psalm 27:10 (NLT)

There lies in the heart of each of us a desire to be loved and to be wanted. That inner confidence that we know we are needed and that if we were gone, someone would miss us. The peace of knowing someone cares and that when everyone else turns their back on us, there is at least one person we can turn to for a heartfelt hug, a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear.

For many of people that’s what family is for. Family is that one foundation, that one cornerstone that throughout history has proven itself to be the most consistent, reliable and faithful place to find love, acceptance and understanding.

Friends move or find other interests. Marriages, some of which have lasted almost half a century, end in divorce and send children of any age reeling and seeking answers. Illnesses, emotional distress, financial ruin, greed all take their toll. But family is always supposed to be there for us.

In David’s Psalm of praise (Psalm 27) he recounts the many ways that God can be trusted and praised. Friends can fail us. We have adversaries that seek our demise. Brothers can turn on you and tell you how embarrassed they are to have you as a sibling. Sometimes even parents can turn their backs on you when you don’t meet up to their own lofty expectations.

But God is there. Have you ever been in a crowd of people you know and still feel lonely? Have you ever reached out for someone to talk to and found everyone too busy to really listen? Have you ever made a decision that was so repulsive that even your family excludes you from their circle?

Know this. Your Heavenly Father hears your cries in the night even when it seems your prayers don’t go past the ceiling. During those lonely times He feels the same knot in your stomach. His heart sinks when He sees how you are treated. No one. Not friends, family, your lover, no one understands like Jesus. He is your friend in the midst of the darkest hour.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. There are times in my life when I’m so full of loneliness and despair that I’m not sure I can go on. No one seems to understand me or listen to me or care if I’m even around. There are times I confess I don’t even think you care. Help me this day to know that you love me with all the scars, with all the bruises, with all the issues that pull me down. I love you. Help me to feel your love. Amen.

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