June 15, 2019
1. What is aloneness?
Is it being alone or being lonely? Are they the same? Can someone be alone but not lonely or can they be lonely in a roomful of people?
What is your definition of loneliness?
Discuss the following:
There is a difference between aloneness and loneliness. Alone means you are by yourself in a physical sense. There is no one there with you. It can be a good thing when you want some peace and quiet or a bad thing when you’re alone in a dark, dangerous alley…but either way, it’s physical. However, loneliness is a state of mind. It’s a feeling of having no one to turn to, having no one who loves you…and can easily become a state of despair. Loneliness can be experienced when we’re alone or when we are completely surrounded by people. It is very internal. #
2. The causes of Loneliness.
Loneliness can happen for all sorts of reasons – bereavement, ill-health, a wounded spirit, lack of self-confidence, miss-information, feelings of emptiness & isolation, loss of friendship, broken relationships, personal failure & rejection by others. #
Can you add to the list? As most people can relate to some of the above share in your group and discuss which of them you have experienced.
3. Three people in the Bible who experienced Loneliness.
Read and discuss the following:
a. Jesus. Isaiah 53:3, Mark 14:32–42, Matthew 26:56. Compare Jesus’ words in John 8:29 with Matthew 27:46.
b. David. Psalm 25:16-21.
c. Elijah. 1 Kings 19:10.
4. Elijah’s Experience.
Read 1 Kings 18:36-19:18.
What was Elijah’s response when Jezebel made her threat to his life? 1 Kings 19:1-5.
Why did he respond that way?
Consider and discuss in your group the following:
Elijah was an iconic, “super-prophet” in the OT. Despite this, James 5:17 says that “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are”. James says, despite Elijah’s triumphs as a powerful & influential prophet, he shared the experience of humanness in common with our humanity.
In 1 Kings 19:10 Elijah’s humanness is on display, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant; torn down Your altars & killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; & they seek to take my life” .God had equipped Elijah to defy kings, to control nature & to call down fire from heaven. Yet here is Elijah, sitting under a juniper bush, besieged by a sense of “aloneness”. Elijah was overwhelmed with a mindset of defeat, a mindset of failure, futility, isolation & disconnection.
The thing to notice about Elijah’s “aloneness” is that it was based on a limited view of his circumstances. He saw himself as disconnected from meaningful purpose & disconnected from likeminded people. “Aloneness” is often associated with these two things – a disconnect from purpose & a disconnect from people. #
Read 1 Kings 19:3-14. What was Elijah’s ‘run down’ condition in the following areas?
Discuss in your group how God met his needs? 1 Kings 19:5-18
Can you relate with Elijah, David or Jesus in any of their experiences of loneliness?
5. God’s Design.
Read Genesis 2:18-23. Though Adam had fellowship with God what else did he need? What was his response when God brought a suitable helper fit for him?
God’s design intention, has wired all of us with the need to give & receive fellowship & companionship. Giving & receiving companionship are to operate vertically, with God & horizontally with others. Whenever you are separated from companionship (vertically with God or horizontally with others) you will experience a deficit from what is otherwise intended by God for you. Whenever you withdraw from companionship (vertically with God or horizontally with others), you will experience a deficit from what is otherwise intended by God for you. It is this deficit that gives rise to “aloneness.” #
Discuss the importance of getting our relationships vertically (with God) and horizontally (with other people) right and in proper balance.
What is the role of the Holy Spirit and our brothers and sisters in Christ? (Refer to 7. Further Reading)
# taken from George’s message on Sunday.
7. Further Reading.
Does the Bible say anything about loneliness?
It is both ironic and tragic that in a time where we are more connected technologically than ever, we also see some of the highest recorded rates of loneliness in history. Loneliness is not about being with people—we can feel lonely surrounded by others and not feel lonely when we are alone. Loneliness is an emotional state in which we feel isolated or completely alone in the world. And though it seems this emotional state is becoming more commonly chronic, loneliness itself is not a new phenomenon.
The first mention of loneliness is found in Genesis 2:18, where God states that it is not good that man should be alone. God’s remedy for Adam’s loneliness is the creation of Eve and the institution of marriage (Genesis 2:21–24). God provided Adam with a companion – a helpmate also made in the image of God – to join him in life. Throughout Scripture we see the importance of companionship, friendship, and fellowship. People were built for relationship—with both God and one another.
When Adam and Eve sinned, relationships broke down. Not only was humanity separated from God, human relationship was damaged (Genesis 3:16, 24). No longer did peace exist between humans and God or between humans and one another. However, even as God pronounced the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin, He also granted hope: the protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15). This hope was the promise of a Savior who would defeat Satan and restore peace between God and mankind. This Savior is Jesus Christ, and He is the only true and lasting remedy for loneliness.
It is through Jesus that we are reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18–21). Jesus is the one who has laid down His life for His friends (John 15:13–15). To paraphrase Pascal, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in every human heart.” That vacuum manifests itself in the ache of restlessness and loneliness, which is only soothed by the peace and love of God found in Jesus Christ (John 14:27; Matthew 11:28–30). And what can separate us from the love of God in Christ? Nothing (Romans 8:35–39). To all who believe in Jesus, He has given the Holy Spirit to live inside us and be with us forever (John 14:15–17). He promises that He is with us always (Matthew 28:20). In Jesus, we are never isolated or alone.
It is also through God’s work that we are reconciled to other people (Ephesians 2:11–22). Having received the Spirit of God and the example of Christ, we learn to put pride aside and seek to meet the needs of others and not ourselves only (Philippians 2:3–8). As husbands and wives grow in their love for and service to Jesus Christ, they learn to love and serve one another (Ephesians 5:22–25). Likewise, children learn loving submission to parents and parents learn not to exasperate their children (Ephesians 6:1–4). Although relationships are not perfect this side of heaven, they can be restored, established, and strengthened by the grace of God. Restored relationships functioning in mutual submission mean less loneliness.
Even more, in Christ, we have become part of a new spiritual family that is one hundred times larger than any natural family. Love of and loyalty to Christ can sometimes cause even our natural families to turn against us. However, God more than makes up for such losses, both in this world and in the world to come (Matthew 19:29). As believers in Christ, we have become part of the family of God and that is a big family. A family where no one need be lonely.
So, if you are feeling lonely ask yourself if you have been reconciled to God by believing in Jesus Christ. If you have, then remind yourself of the promise that God has made to you, “… I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus, who died for you, has gone to prepare a place for you where you will dwell with Him and all who belong to Him eternally (John 14:1–3). In the meantime, He has given us His Spirit to dwell within us, teach us, and comfort us (John 14:16–18). No believer in Christ is ever truly alone.
Consider this short story from a recently widowed lady:
“On Jan. 5 I discovered what true loneliness was. You see, on that day my husband of over 37 years died. On that day, I felt as though I had also died; yet, here I was still alive. There was now a huge void in my life. Since I was still alive, I knew that it meant I needed to go on. In order to do that, I began to look around our congregations. I saw many widows and widowers. There were also many other members who, for one reason or another, were alone. As much as I missed the conversations with my husband, I soon realized that perhaps these others might also be starved for conversation.
“So I came up with a plan. Whenever I began to feel lonely, I would call someone. Hearing the voice of a friend has helped me. If you ever find yourself feeling lonely, try these tips:
1. Pick up the phone and call someone.
2. Send a card to someone.
3. Visit someone—especially those who may be homebound or in a nursing home.
“By taking your mind off of self and onto others, you will soon realize how very beneficial it is.
“Even if you are not lonely, follow the above tips and call, visit or send a card to someone who is alone. Take it from someone who has been on the receiving end, that it is very much appreciated to know that others remember and care for you! It really does help keep loneliness at bay.”