Letting God meet us in our Loneliness and Fear
Letting God meet us in our Loneliness and Fear
In the last blog, we looked at this question, and we will continue to do so for the next several blog posts.
What emotion or emotions am I feeling when the temptation to look at pornography comes at me? REMINDER - remember, BLAST!
Today let’s look at the issue of feeling LONELY or AFRAID.
I really understand loneliness. I wish I didn't, but I really do understand it because I have experienced it a great deal in my life. There are a variety of reasons why I have battled feeling lonely, but the bottom line is I truly know what this feels like.
However, me feeling lonely is not as big of a deal as knowing that Jesus felt this way. If you read Matthew 26, you will find Jesus in the garden praying right before He is to die on the cross. While praying, He asks His disciples to pray with Him. They continue to fall asleep on Him. As He is praying, it seems He is in intense distress, and His closest friends are not with Him. Wow!
His loneliness continues in Matthew 27 on the cross. As He bears the weight of mankind's sin on His back, God the Father turns His back on Jesus. Christ cries out, "Why have you forsaken me?".
It is encouraging to know that Jesus Christ struggled just like you and I struggle. Hebrews 4 tells us that we have a Great High Priest who understands our weakness. How does He understand? He experienced being lonely.
Genesis 2 tells us that it is not good to be alone. This is before the fall. Perfect garden with perfect man with perfect God, and there is loneliness. God said being alone is not good. Wow!
Loneliness is not a sin, but God does not want me to stay in a place of loneliness. What do I need to do when I am lonely? If I am not careful, feeling lonely will lead me to bowing down to idolatry.
Here are some practical ideas I have to combat loneliness:
Remember that Jesus wants relationship with me. My sin keeps me from relationship with God, but God made a way through Jesus for me to have a relationship with Him. It is possible you are lonely because you don't have a relationship with Jesus. You need to come to faith in God. How? Surrender yourself to Him by repenting of your sin and receiving the free gift of Jesus.
Remember Jesus wants to dine with me. Revelation 3:20 communicates to me that Jesus Christ wants to have an intimate relationship with me and spend time with me. When I am lonely, I am usually resistant to spending that time with Jesus. I must remember that He wants that intimacy with us and spending time with Him helps me in my loneliness.
Surround myself with people who point me to Jesus. In Mark 2, there is a paralyzed man who can't get to Jesus. He had four friends who literally carried him to Jesus. I need friends in my life who will point me to Christ. Many times when I feel lonely, I don't want to reach out to people that are connected to me. One of the greatest things I can do is to reach out to those one or two people in my life who will remind me to take my loneliness to Jesus.
Sometimes there will be times when I don't want to reach out to Jesus or my closest friends. These are usually really dark times. I have found one Psalm to really help me during that time. That is Psalm 88. I think it is the loneliest Psalm in the Bible. There is really no resolution to it either. I am glad that chapter is in Scripture because it helps me to know I can talk to God that way when I feel super lonely.
All of these above ideas have helped me in my loneliness, but I want to specifically focus on #4. One of the loneliest times in my life was when my son, Caleb Micah, was born stillborn. It was brutally hard. His death came right after watching the church I pastored collapse. I was in a really dark place.
A friend of mine challenged me to read Psalm 88. One night in particular I was having a really tough time, and I went outside to work in my yard to take my mind off of how I felt. I started trimming hedges. The next thing I knew I had destroyed those hedges. I decided to just take them out of the flower beds. There were 6 of them. I used a tool to cut the limbs of the hedges down to where all that was left were 6 stumps.
At this point I am really crying out to God about how I feel and how lonely I am and how my heart is not in a good place. I start using a shovel to pull the stumps out by the roots. I finally get to my last stump. As I am pulling on the last couple of roots, I trip and fall. On the ground, I just look up to heaven and cry. I felt so lonely, but somehow in that moment I knew God was with me.
I look back on that night as a turning point for me. Jesus met me in my loneliness as I was destroying those shrubs. It would have been much easier for me to run to anything idolatrous there (examples: distract myself with going back to work, go watch porn, go watch sports, play a bunch of video games, eat a bunch, etc.)
I am so thankful to the Lord that He gave me some shrubs to destroy so I could cry out to Him in my place of deep loneliness. That was my Psalm 88 moment. I took my loneliness to Christ, and I was finally able to see that He was with me.
Where are you today? Wherever you are, don't take your loneliness to idolatry. Take it to the feet of Jesus!
If I am honest, I would tell you that I feel afraid a great deal of the time. Some feel afraid a little, and some feel afraid a ton of the time. The reality is this: we all feel afraid. Of course we would need to be honest with ourselves to admit that we feel this way. Fear, feeling afraid, impacts everyone.
How do you deal with this?
I used to tell myself that I just needed to have more faith. I would almost will myself to have more faith and even try to explain away my fears. Let me tell you. This never worked. All I would do is suppress my fear. I would still feel afraid, but I would lie about it. I would just convince myself that I was having more faith to overcome it.
Like I said, this did not work for me, and it does not work for you either.
Don't misunderstand me. When I am afraid I do need to have faith. I just need to get to a place when I can place my faith and trust in Jesus in the midst of my fear.
One must ask, How do I get to this place? I can't will myself to do it for sure.
1 John 4:18 in essence says that God's perfect love casts out fear. If I want to get to a place that I am trusting Jesus every time I am afraid, then I must be experiencing His perfect love. His love causes the fear to dissipate, and His love compels me to trust in Him.
What do I need then? I need to be experiencing the love of God. How do I do this?
This is what works in my own life. I start with the glory and awesomeness and Majesty of God (We will look more deeply at this in the next chapter). Job 38 says that God commands the ocean to stop. Psalm 29 says that God's voice can snap trees in half. Isaiah 40 says that God can hold the waters of the earth in his hand. That is a powerful God. If he can do all that, then He can probably help me with my fear issue. I don't think it is as big as the ocean.
The next thing I do is move into how He loves me. This awesome and powerful Jesus loves me. He went to the cross and rose from the dead to reconcile me with Himself. He did not do that for me. He did that for the glory of God. Somehow reconciling me to Himself brings Him glory. Man, I must be valuable. Dude, He must love me.
Then I move to practical ways He has shown love to me. He gave me my wife and my kids. It was brutal when my son died, but I remember how He sustained me when this happened. I remember ways He has crazily provided for us.
I might even go on a walk and just meditate on all this, just really deeply letting it sink into my heart. I might listen to songs that remind me of God's love. Here are a few:
The Love of God is Greater Far
Oh, How He Loves
One Thing Remains
As I reflect on God's power, the cross, and the practical ways He loves me, I am not thinking about being afraid. When I sing about His love, I often am experiencing His love, and I am no longer feeling afraid. Why? His perfect love casts our fear!
Feeling afraid can lead us to escape into idolatry. Experiencing God's love can lead us to trust Him.
Will I let Him perfectly love me today? Will you?
I am so thankful for God's perfect love!