You weren’t created to be lonely.
MAY 2, 2023
You weren’t created to be lonely. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown. He doesn’t want to be your guru and he’s not trying to be your mother. He just opens the Bible and gives you the simple truth that will make you free. Steve’s a lifelong broadcaster, author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. I know, I know I’ve heard from a lot of you. Monday is when I usually pray at the beginning of the week and I didn’t yesterday. That was on purpose cause I wanted to see if you were paying attention. Actually, I just forgot. So, it’s Tuesday and it can’t hurt if we pray now, since God is out of time and space, he will have heard this prayer at the moment of creation. So, whether I did it on Monday or Tuesday, it doesn’t matter. So let’s pray. Father, thank you for being the God of time and space who when we forget, never forgets. When we miss it, never misses it. When we sometimes leave a lot to be desired, you leave nothing to be desired. And we praise you. And we worship you. Father, pour your favor out on every person who is listening to this broadcast and to the teacher too. And teach us to be still and praise you and worship you, no matter what. And Father, forgive the teacher his sins cause there are many. We would see Jesus and Him only. And we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. Okay. I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying that was neurotic. I know that, but I do feel better, just so you know. So, we’re looking at a book that I wrote, and it’s called Laughter and Lament. And in some ways it’s a hard teaching to look at, it was hard to write. But I wrote a chapter in this book, and we’re looking at the themes in that book called The Curse of Loneliness. Ecclesiastes 4:11 says this.
If two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
The Biblical book of Lamentations is the mother of lament. It opens with these words.
How Lonely sits the city that was full of people!
The Psalms of Lament are not written, by the way, for personal devotions. Now, they are personal, you can use those Psalms of Lament for your personal lament, but they were songs to be sung by the congregation, for corporate singing, sometimes even giving instructions to the worship leader on how they should be sung. A Song of Lament is hardly ever a solo. There are two very sad and human episodes in the life of Christ that come to mind. The first was when Jesus expresses concern that his disciples would leave him, and on that occasion, he expressed it to them. It’s in John 6:67 through 68, and it’s one of the saddest, most depressing, filled with pathos passages of Scripture. Here’s the Son of God, God incarnate, who has everything, who can do anything, who is God himself. And he’s looking at his loneliness. Now, you’ve got to know what’s going on in that chapter in John 6, people are beginning to drift away from Jesus. When he first started teaching and preaching and healing, they were drawing the crowds and then the crowds started hearing things about death and persecution and crucifixtion. And they say to themselves, and that’s still true today, I didn’t sign on for this. And they start drifting away and pretty soon nobody’s left except the twelve disciples and Jesus. And in that, and it’s filled with pathos.
Jesus says, “Are you, are you going to leave too?” Peter said, and the disciple said, “Where are we going to go?”
You’ve got the word of life, and nobody else sells that at their store, so we’re stuck with you. Now, the second time in the life of Christ where there’s pathos of loneliness was just before the cross when Jesus said that his soul was very sorrowful. He asked his disciples, stay awake, and he went off and prayed and wept. And you’ll remember what they did, they fell asleep. Matthew 26:38 through 40, they fell asleep and Jesus said, and these words are filled with pathos too.
Could you not watch with me for one hour?
Paul knew loneliness and often expressed his affection for the church people that he loved and missed. He wrote to the Philippians.
For God is my witness, how I yearn
And that’s a strong word.
how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ.
Philippians 1:8. Jean-Paul Sartre, the French existentialist famously said.
That hell was other people.
I sort of understand that, when I was a pastor, I would say to the Lord, I could do this job if it weren’t for all these people. I even sometimes joked from the pulpit that there was nothing wrong with the church that I couldn’t fix with a few funerals. I’ve said often that I’m a loner, and that’s true. I love those times when nobody’s around, that’s when I get to read and think, smoke my pipe, and play solitaire, and sometimes even pray, without the noise and hassle of people. I think I could be a monk if they would let me bring my wife, but they won’t. But I also know that if I’ve heard a joke and there’s no one around to tell it to. Or I feel like weeping and there’s no one around to hear the sound of my tears, that I was not created to be alone. There are a lot of reasons God ordained the church, but at the heart of it is the truth that God created our loneliness and then ordained the church as the remedy. Let me say that again because it’s really important. God created our loneliness and then ordained the church as the remedy. Augustine said.
That our hearts were restless until they found their rest in God.
And that of course is true, but God also created us for one another, and our hearts are restless there too, until they find their rest in one another. The church was created to be a place of laughter and lament. When we stifle the laughter or hide the tears, we truncate real life and the main reason for our existence. As I was working on this book, we were, hopefully, I said in the book when I was writing it at the end of the COVID 19 pandemic, vaccines, you know, and don’t get me started, I did them and got COVID twice. I just want you to know that, so you’ll feel sorry for me. And the second bout of COVID was just two weeks ago. But there was hope when I was writing this book that the vaccines were going to fix everything and everything would get back to normal. I don’t know if you remember, but during the pandemic and the lockdowns, depending on the day, I thought the whole thing was a crock, or alternatively, that we were all going to die. At the beginning of the pandemic lockdown, I thought it was kind of cool to do church in my pajamas, and you did too. You just won’t admit it. Attend meetings without going anywhere and have a ready excuse to not have to do what I didn’t want to do, or to be with people I didn’t like. But then, but then in the middle of that lockdown, after watching a thousand worship services on my computer, After not having to do anything and staying at home until I was being driven nuts. After all of that, I realized something, that I was lonely. The loneliness wasn’t because I wasn’t connected, there was always Facebook and Skype and Zoom and the phone, but I realized that there is a ministry of touch, where a hug will substitute for a lot of words, a touch will communicate better than an e-mail. And a compassionate look without a mask will do more than any sermon or community. Not only will our restless hearts remain restless without one another, our lament and our sadness will overwhelm us without one another. I’m out of time, but we’ll talk about it more tomorrow. But for now, just remember, you were not created to be alone. You think about that. Amen.
God created our loneliness, then ordained the church as the remedy, that is powerful stuff. Thank you Steve. Our texts today were Ecclesiastes 4:11, John 6, and Philippians 1:8. Much more to discover tomorrow, sure hope you’ll join us then. So, you’re hearing my voice right now on May 2nd, but we recorded this about a month prior, during a week when our nation experienced an awful tragedy. And I don’t like saying it, but there’s a good chance something else bad has happened in these intervening 34. So, what are believers to do when we are just enveloped in these dark days of hatred and division and despair? Where do we get the energy and perseverance to love? Well, Steve spoke about this and a sermon called We Will Be Restored. It’s a powerful and timely word, and I know it’s going to encourage you. Can we send you that sermon on a CD, for free? If so, call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] and ask for that CD. Or to mail your request, go to Keylife.org/contact for our mailing addresses. Just ask for the free CD called We Will Be Restored. Finally, would you partner in the work of Key Life through your giving? Any size helps, and you can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or simply text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.