“In the whole realm of human experience, perhaps the worst form of emotional pain is the pain of loneliness, whether it be the loneliness of desertion, the loneliness of persecution, or even the loneliness of being misunderstood” (Shai Linne, Alone).
My purpose in writing now is that those who are lonely or misunderstood may be comforted with a true everlasting comfort.
A few days ago, last Thursday, July 23rd, I had the opportunity to preach on Psalm 1 at Central Union Mission, a Christian homeless shelter for men in DC.
The main point of my sermon was the same as the main point of Psalm 1:
What does true success look like according to God?
Answer: The truly successful man avoids evil and enjoys God’s Word, and the truly failing man enjoys evil and avoids God’s Word.
The theme of loneliness and comfort was not directly a major theme of my sermon. However, it has been helpful for me to think about loneliness as I was preparing to preach, especially in the context of a homeless shelter. I’m confident that many (if not all) of the men there struggle with loneliness.
Regardless of where we are in life, we can experience loneliness. In response to the discomfort of loneliness, we too often (or perhaps as a lifestyle) seek comfort from our loneliness in God’s creation apart from God Himself. In Jeremiah 2:13, God calls this evil. As a good, loving Father, God calls us to seek comfort from Himself through His Word and through relationships with believers (God’s adopted children through faith) in a local, gospel-preaching church (Psalm 145:18, Colossians 3:16).
Aside from my own experiences, listening to the song that I quoted earlier, Alone by Shai Linne, has helped me to better understand the agony of loneliness. Shai explains how, at the cross of Jesus Christ, “for the first time in eternity, God was alone.”
If you feel that you have fallen to the uttermost depth of loneliness and that no one can understand your experience, there is One who has fallen deeper in loneliness still (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus Christ came from heaven where He had lived in perfect love with His Father for all eternity (John 8:58, 17:24). And He intentionally came to earth and laid His life down on a cross (John 10:18), where He experienced a depth of loneliness that no other human will ever reach. As the only person to ever live a life with absolutely no sin, Jesus did not deserve death. But at the cross, Jesus, the Son of God, was cut off from the hand of God (Psalm 88:4), and He became “a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). For all who repent and believe in Him, Jesus took the punishment that we deserve.
Praise God that Jesus was raised from the dead. And if you are united to Christ through faith, He “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). If you are habitually seeking comfort from loneliness in anything apart from Christ, examine the cross and the price paid for the everlasting comfort of all who repent and believe.
“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:5-6)
While the main theme of my sermon last Thursday was not loneliness, a major theme of my sermon was the Word of God. God’s promises in His Word feed our souls with true comfort from loneliness. And as our souls are nourished by God’s Word “like a tree planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3), we are enabled to know that God’s presence and approval through faith in Christ are all that we need for our everlasting comfort.
To His bride, the church, those who repent and trust in Him, Jesus promises, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). Do you know this comfort?