house, alone, and empty

Overcoming Loneliness

    Many, many people live with loneliness. This is especially true of those that go away to college and those who join a military service. They are suddenly separated from friends and family. Those who lose a loved one through death, divorce, or romantic breakup also face loneliness. There are also those who sense loneliness in the midst of a crowd of friends and family. Sometimes, we experience feelings loneliness because we are a social outcast. We don't fit in with the majority of the people. We may be from a minority social, ethical, religious, or racial group. We may have a physical or mental handicap that makes us different and causes us to feel alone. We feel rejected, isolated, and alone.

    One may respond to the feelings of loneliness in a number of ways, but basically, we will in some way try to fill the void. One may become angry and bitter about loneliness, but will also seek out others who have the same feelings. A lonely person may withdraw from people and fill his mind with fantasies. Many young adults marry out of feelings of loneliness. Others try to fill their lives with sexual partners. Some teens join gangs so that they can fit into a group. Some people strive to fill the void with achievements. Others fill their lives with alcohol or drugs. Still others seek "thrills" to fill the void. Finally, some people try to fill their lives with religious practices and rituals. The problem is that these things are only "temporary fixes". They don't last!

    We should understand that we are lonely not just because we lose friends and family, but because God created us to have a relationship and fellowship with HIM. In one sense, we have a God-shaped void in our lives. God created us to be the habitation of God. God not only lives in Heaven, he also desires to take up residence within each of us.

    In the Old Testament, men built a tabernacle and temples for God to dwell in (Exodus 25:8-9, II Samuel 7:13). The tabernacle basically had three parts: the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. The presence of God came into the Holy of Holies and sat upon the throne of the Mercy Seat which sat upon the Ark. The New Testament concept is that Jesus Christ came as the tabernacle of God (Hebrews 9:11). The Spirit of Almighty God lived and dwelled within Him. We should understand that as Jesus was the Son of Man, he was a temple having three parts: spirit, soul, and body. Furthermore, he was born of the Spirit of God. Therefore, the Spirit of God lived within Him within his spirit. Wherever Jesus went, the Spirit of God went with Him. Furthermore, at Jesus' water baptism, the anointing power of the Spirit also rested upon him (John 1:32, Luke 4:14, 18-19). The presence and the power of God that dwelled in Jesus enabled Jesus to live a life of obedience to the Father (John 5:19).

    When Jesus died on the cross, the veil which had separated God from man in the man-made temple was tore from the top to the bottom (Mark 15:38). This indicated that God tore the veil. Man could now have access to God through Jesus. Moreover, God would now have access to live and dwell within the temple of man, himself. I restate: God left the man-made temple of stones to live and dwell within man. Like the Old Testament temple that had three parts, we also have three parts: spirit, soul, and body (I Thessalonians 5:23). The Spirit of Almighty God was to live and dwell within the spirit of men.

    How would you like for the Spirit of Almighty God to live and dwell (I Peter 1:23) within you? Jesus offered this reality, this experience, to his disciple and ultimately to all men on the day of his resurrection. He explained to his disciples that he had made peace with the Father on their (and our) behalf (John 20:21). Then Jesus said, "As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you" (John 20:21b). How did the Father send Jesus into the world? He was born of the Spirit of God! "And when he said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John 20:22). We must conclude at that moment the disciples received the Spirit of the Living God. God took up residence within the disciples. They were born of the Spirit.

    You may also receive the new birth and have the Spirit of the Living God live and dwell within you. If you have not already experienced this reality of new life, please pray the following prayer: Dear God ...

1. I confess to you that I have not obeyed all your laws (Romans 3:10, 3:23).
2. I understand that the penalty for my disobedience is death (Romans 5:12, 6:23).
3. I believe that Jesus, God's Son, came and lived a perfect life, but died for all my sins, was buried, but arose the third day (Romans 5:8, Isaiah 53:6).
4. Therefore, I give my life to Jesus as my Lord (ruler, king, boss) and ask that he come and live inside me and make me a new person. (Romans 10:9-10).
5. Now, I thank you that you are my Lord and Saviour and that you now live inside of me. Amen.
    If you have honestly prayed this prayer, you have become a child of God (John 1:1-13). You have experienced a new spiritual birth (John 3:1-8). Furthermore, the Spirit of God has taken up residence within you. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (I Corinthians 3:16). Imagine it! The Spirit of the Creator is living inside of you! Peter writes, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (I Peter 1:23). This not a temporal experience that will pass away the first time we sin. It is lasting unchangeable reality. It is a matter of fact. It is a truth, whether or not we fully understand or acknowledge it.

    Look at the words of Jesus, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect [complete] in one; and that the world may know that thou has sent me, and hast loved them, as thou has loved me" (John 17:23). Did you catch it? God loves us just as much as He loved His Son Jesus! Wow! As Believers, it is extremely important that we acknowledge and profess the truth that we are the temple of God and that God lives and dwells within us. We never, never have to be alone again! Jesus said, "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20b).

    We should also know that we may be baptized (immersed) in and filled with the power of the Spirit of God (Acts 1:8). Although the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of the resurrection (John 20:21), they were baptized in and filled with the Spirit fifty days later (Acts 2:1ff). On this day, God gave the power of the Spirit to Believers to live the Christian life and to minister to others. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter who is to walk along beside of us as we live (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:7-15). Look at the words of Jesus, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever: Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless [as orphans]: I will come to you . . . At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you" (John 14:16-20). Have you received the Holy Spirit since you have believed (Acts 19:2)? You can receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit by asking the Father (Luke 11:1-13).

    How does one overcome loneliness? One way is by acknowledging God's presence in your life. This sounds all too simple, but let us look at the factors involved. First, fear is usually associated with loneliness. We have a fear of failure or the fear of being overcome by the devil. However, with the acknowledgment of the presence of God, who is the Almighty Creator, being there, there is no reason to have that fear. Second, we sometimes just have a need to unload upon someone else. We may want to air problems, share successes, or just fellowship with someone. With God being there with us, we can unload upon Him and fellowship with Him.

Some benefits of acknowledging God's presence in your life

1. You can overcome the struggle with loneliness, because the Comforter is with you (John 14:16-17).

2. You don't have to be afraid, because God (Yahweh) is with you (Psalm 23:4).

3. You don't have to continue in turmoil, because the King gives us peace and joy (Romans 14:17).

4. You can overcome sin, because in His presence is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 3:7).

5. You don't have to panic, because God is in control (Romans 8:28).

6. You don't have to worry about what to say, because the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say (Mark 13:11).

7. You don't have to fret over how to pray, because the Holy Spirit will pray through you (Romans 8:26).

8. You can gain freedom from the enemy, because the Spirit sets you free (II Corinthians 3:17).

9. You don't have to worry about God giving up on you, because He will continue to work in you life as you allow Him to do so (Philippians 1:6).

Some ways to practice acknowledging His presence
1. Be still and bathe in His presence (Psalm 4:5, 46:10). In today's world, it may seem hard to find the time or the place to do this. However, it is essential in overcoming loneliness and finding a peace of mind.

2. Stop and give thanks unto the Lord (Psalm 100:4, 107:22). Yesterday, morning I prayed for rain because there were cracks in my yard around my house. Yesterday evening it rained. I was naturally glad it rained, but I had to purpose to stop and give thanks to God.

3. Take praise breaks (Psalm 22:3, 119:164). We are to praise God for who He is. It is amazing how our vision of life changes when we purpose to enter His presence with praise. We begin to see things from His perspective. The Lord inhabits the praises of His people.

4. We should sing songs unto the Lord (Psalm 100:2, Colossians 3:16). While growing up, I learned many songs about the Lord. However, it was later that I learned to sing song unto Him. Try creating your own song to sing unto Him and see how you will be blessed by His presence.

5. Prayer in a general sense is communication with God (Psalm 55:17, I Corinthians 14:15). We should recognize His presence by asking for His opinion, His advise, and His direction. We are to pray with the natural mind and also in the Spirit.

6. We may acknowledge His presence in studying His Word (Psalm 138:2, II Timothy 2:15). Bible study, to me, is often like setting down and eating a meal with God. The bread is the Word. We just sit and fellowship over the Word.

7. When we acknowledge His presence, we may find that we need to repent of certain sins (Isaiah 6:5, Psalm 139:23-24). We may acknowledge His presence by inviting Him to look inside of us and to show us where why we are having so much unrest and pain.

8. We may acknowledge His presence by making professions of faith (Psalm 134:3, Hebrews 10:22-25). Profession of faith are declarations of what God has done and is doing in our life.

9. We may acknowledge His presence by taking time to rejoice in Him (Psalm 16:11, Philippians 4:4). Rejoicing in the Lord is a matter of faith and a matter of choice. We are to rejoice in most every situation.

10. We may also acknowledge His presence by the playing of musical instruments unto Him (Psalm 150:3-6). Recently, we had a tambourine and dance troop minister in our church. When I heard about their coming, I was very skeptical about any ministry that would be in it. Boy, was I wrong! They ministered praises unto the Lord. I was drawn into the worshipping in the presence of God.

11. We may also practice acknowledging the presence of the Lord by fellowshipping with other Believers (I John 1:3-7, Proverbs 18:24, Hebrews 10:25, ). Sometimes Believers are lonely simply because they refuse to accept other members of the Body of Christ. When we accept other Believers even as Christ accepted us, we are acknowledging His presence.

12. We also may acknowledge His presence by sharing our faith with others (Isaiah 6:8, Psalm 105:1). If the presence of God is truly with us, then we should have a boldness to witness to others (Acts 4:29-31).

    I pray that this brief study on how to overcome the struggle with loneliness is beneficial to you. For prayer or further help please e-mail Basil Frasure, Ph.D. at  Whole Person Counseling.

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