Despite the fact that our generation is more connected than any other before it, we’re the most lonely. Why is that and how do we stop feeling lonely? In this message, we talk about how to battle loneliness.
All right! Welcome, friends in the room, friends in Fort Worth, Houston, El Paso, Phoenix, Fayetteville, Philadelphia, North Carolina. Wherever you are joining us from, we're so excited. We're wrapping up this Mood series tonight. Let me start by sharing a little bit of something related to the Marvin household recently.
My kids are terrible sleepers. I like to think they get this from their mother, but I think that would be a lie. She reminds me often that probably comes from their father, who's not a great napper or sleeper. We have done everything we can to try to get them to sleep. The latest thing we've been attempting to do is cut out as much sugar as we can any time around bedtime. We want to make sure there's very little sugar so that they'll go right to sleep.
It has not worked. That has loved me to discover, "Man, what could that possibly be like? What is not causing sleep?" Looking at even the sugar thing, I recently came across a discovery that sugar has nothing to do with your energy levels. Do you know this? It's not responsible, it's a little bit mind-blowing, but I'm going somewhere, people, so just stay with me.
It's not responsible for sleep in children or you. If it's chocolate, there could be caffeine, which could be a factor, but it doesn't have anything to do with that. That led me down an article spiral. Have you ever been on the internet and all of a sudden you're going to check your email and then you're on the vortex of information and you're checking out one myth after the next after the next from the article you looked up related to sugar?
This will give us some traction for where we're going tonight, because there were several different myths that I came across in exploring that one I really think most of us have heard for a long time in life, and they are not true, apparently. So not just is sugar not responsible for increasing energy levels in kids or people, there are other myths maybe you walked into this room believing.
This is one maybe you've heard before, or at least it's kind of hard for me to believe, and it is shaving will not make the hair come back thicker. If you shave an area, and I think we all at some point, at least when I grew up in high school, there's this moment… Depending on whether you're a guy or a girl, how you interact with this is very different.
If you're a guy, you're hoping your facial hair is going to come in high school, so you're shaving every day just hoping three hairs are going to pop up. If you're a girl, you're like, "Hey, the one thing you cannot do is wax right here. You shave right here and it's gonna blow up on you. So you need to be very careful about what you do." Apparently, it is totally a myth. Shaving will not make it come back thicker.
Here's another one. Turkey does not make you tired. Anybody ever heard this before? Yes, it's a myth. Turkey does not make… before anybody's like, "No, wait a second. Hey, Thanksgiving, I've experienced it." It is not turkey that makes you tired, it's that you're bloated and you had too much dessert, or alcohol, or something that made you feel like, "Man, I just need a nap."
But it is not… In case a lot of you are checking it and you're like, "Wait, there's some hormone that's inside of it," that hormone is in every meat. So any meats you make… In fact, it's in cheese. If you had cheese, it should make you just as tired. It's not true. It's a myth.
Another myth that maybe you came into this room believing is a dog's mouth is not cleaner than a human mouth. Yeah, what? Depending on who your dog is, I guess, this would be a factor, and depending on who you are and how often you brush. On average, a dog's mouth is not cleaner than a human mouth. This is only said by people who love their dog licking their face. You should stop it. It's weirding everybody out, and his mouth is not cleaner, and you shouldn't let anybody lick your face. Let alone a dog. It is a myth a dog's mouth is cleaner.
Here's another one, a very famous one. Urine will take away a jellyfish sting. Now if you grew up in the era I did, you saw Monica and Chandler in the episode of friends where Chandler steps in…I can't believe this is how we're opening…after Monica gets stung by a jellyfish and he's like, "I gotta help out." This is not true.
So if anyone, if you're ever at the beach and you get stung by a jellyfish and somebody tries to come up and help you, tell them to back it up, because it will not help you. In fact, it can often make things worse, apparently. Saltwater is your best option at that point, because it will clean it out, but urine is definitely never really the solution to really any problem you have.
It is a myth and whoever came up with this, I'm not even sure where it came from, other than maybe that episode in general. The reason I start there is because in talking about myths and how if you believe a myth it can impact your behavior, and just the truth and how often times culture or just different people, we grow up and we embrace these different myths and they impact our lives, some in really silly and fun ways…
There are other things in life where we embrace a myth and it has tremendous impact. Tonight we're going to talk about the subject, or the mood, of loneliness. We're going to explore some of the myths people, often times well-intentioned people, promote and many of us believe as it relates to loneliness and what a solution to loneliness is.
We're going to look at three teachings from God's Word on the subject of loneliness. Three myths and then three truths that come directly from Scriptures as it relates to loneliness. This has been called the loneliest generation. A recent study found 68 percent of young adults would say no one really knows them. It's been called the most connected generation in history, and it's also one of the loneliest of all time. Consistently a majority of young adults describe feeling extremely lonely or very lonely on a consistent basis.
Despite the fact we are more connected than we've ever been before, we're often less known than we've ever been before. In fact, young adulthood in general can be a lonely time, because your whole life you're running with your crew and your friends from very early on until you reach young adulthood.
So you've started in elementary school, you're hanging out and you're on the playground, you're running around playing tetherball. You're all together. Then you move on to junior high. You're still together, you just get a locker this time and you get a little bigger and start going through puberty, but we're all in this together.
Then you move on to high school and you've still got your crew you're running with, your friends are all together, and you're with your group of people this whole time. Then you go to college and there's a little bit of splitting off, but it's like, "Hey, I'll see you back there. We'll hangout when you come back for the summers, but we're going off, and I'm still around people my age group.
Then all of a sudden, it's like the track is going along and everything is fine and it's like the track runs out. It's just a total decline and you're just free-falling out into the real world after you graduate college, where you're like, "Oh, my gosh. All of my people. I'm no longer just around all 21-year-olds all the time. I no longer live with seven roommates all the time. I'm in a new city. I got a new job. I don't work with a bunch of people like me and my age all the time. I'm kind of free-falling and I just feel alone."
I don't know what your experiences with loneliness look like, or what is looks like today, but it's a feeling all of us at some point in our lives have. If you haven't experienced it, you're going to experience it in the future, and knowing how to face it and combat it, because it's loneliness that's responsible for so many issues that spring forward out of that loneliness… People get into relationships they shouldn't be in. People start interacting with alcohol in a way that is destructive towards them and further relationships.
It drives them back into shame and loneliness. People make all types of decisions to try to deal with the pain, because it is such a real pain that can come with loneliness. So we're going to look at God's Word about how to battle and real solutions for loneliness, and how to reject and identify real lies as it relates to loneliness. We're going to look through three of these things and look at the Scriptures that correspond.
The first myth as it relates to loneliness is related to friends, and that is friends can fix my loneliness. The truth is it is the right friends who help us to fight loneliness. It is not just friends in general who can fix my loneliness, but the solution is not I need more friends, or my old friends, or my college friends, or any friends. The truth is the Bible says you are to have the right friends, to have real friends, and friends who align with God's design for the types of friend relationships your supposed to have.
You may not know this. God cares about you having friends and the right types in your life. It gets very clear in scripture about the types of relationships that are to mark your life and my life. Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man of many companions may come to ruin…" So a man of many companions…this could be a man of many Facebook friends, man of many Instagram followers, a man who knows a lot of people…may come to ruin.
"…but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." The Bible says there is a type of relationship you would have with lots of people, but there are certain relationships that should mark your life so no matter what you face, they're sticking by you and you're sticking by them. There's this real friend God wants you to have.
Specifically, here's the type of real friends, or the right friendships, that should mark your life. People who know you and who know God. We'll talk about and unpack why that's so important here in a second. The solution to fixing any loneliness is not more relationships, not more social activities. It is having the right friendships.
If you do not get this right, you will not fight and battle loneliness in the way God wants you to experience…freedom from loneliness and the ability to fight against loneliness. It's not just any friendships, it's the right ones. Just like it's similar if you go to fill an empty room in your apartment or an empty room in your house.
You're looking for someone to split the rent with, the lease with. There are a couple of ways you could go about that. The first would be through a connection, a relationship, through an old friend, an acquaintance, someone you know, somebody from this church, somebody from your church wherever you're connected to, someone who you're like, "Oh, I think we would run together well."
Then you could go what is the more risky approach, which is called Craigslist. You could go search for "looking for a roommate". What you're likely to experience is a roommate who no longer is someone who you get excited about going home and being around all the time. It's someone who doesn't know how to wash the pasta out of the pot when they finish cooking.
Somebody who borrows everything you have and is like, "I thought we were sharing this whole thing together." Somebody who doesn't tell you they're bringing over friends who are going to stay in the middle of the week over the night, so he leaves the TV on until 1:00. The goal is not to just fill the empty room. It's to fill the room with the right person.
In the same way, the goal is not for you to try to fill the empty parts of your heart with relationships with people in general. It's to fill them with the right people, specifically people who know God and who know you. I'm going to talk about both of those. Without both of those being present, you are not going to experience the type of friendships God wants you to have and he designed you for relationships.
The very first thing God says is not good was for man to be alone. Before sin was entered into the world, in the book of Genesis, God said, "It is not good for man to be alone. You are designed for relationships, but not just any relationships will help you battle loneliness. The right ones will help you battle loneliness.
So what do I mean by knowing you or knowing God, specifically as it relates to knowing you? They know you. They know flaws and all. You open up and have a life in front of them where they know not just what everyone sees on the outside, they know all of the different parts of you where God still needs to take ground.
If you are Christian, you should have people who know you. They know where you struggle, they know the areas where you're tempted. The Bible says in Hebrews 3:12-13, "Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God."
Everybody listen up, I want you to make sure you watch out that in the midst of you guys…he's talking to this writer of Hebrews whose writing this church…there's not an unbelieving heart. A part of you that doesn't trust God, that could lead you to turn away from your faith. But here's the way to do that. "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
God says, "Hey, the antidote, the remedy for you having your heart hardened by sin, is to have people in your life who can look in and exhort or call you to the standard of God's Word. They can call you out in areas of your life you need to be called out." They can call me out in the areas of my life I need to be called out.
How is that possible? The only way it's possible is for them to know the areas of your life you need to be called out in. For them to know what is going on in your dating relationship. For you to open up your life and share about the anxiety you feel at work. For them to know the challenges you're having with your family or parents, for them to know about the pornography, the eating disorder, the cutting that's taking place.
For you to open up your life and say, "Hey, this is not who I want to be. God's Word is clear, and I don't even want to talk about this, but I need someone to know it and hold me accountable and pray for me and come along side." You will not have the right relationships unless you are willing to open up your life to other people to be known.
Proverbs 27:6 says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." That a true friend, a real friend, the Bible says, is someone who is willing to wound you with the truth because they love you enough to tell you. So it is not one to be like, "Hey, dude, I know you're dating Roger and Roger's a little crazy and I think he has got an anger problem, but I really would love to be a part of your bridal party. Can we make that happen?"
They're not willing to just go along with it. If they see something not consistent with what God's Word says, they're willing to say, "Can we talk about your relationship? I just feel like I'm seeing this. Maybe I'm wrong, but I want to love you enough to wound you." Do you have friends in your life who love you enough to wound you? Who love you enough to share the truth? When is the last time someone was honest enough with you to say, "Hey, I see this in your life. Has anyone ever told you this before"?
If you want to have real relationships and real friends, it's going to involve people who are willing to speak the truth because they care enough about you to speak the truth to you. If I didn't love you, I would just tell you whatever you wanted to hear, because I need you to affirm something in me. Real friends are willing to speak the truth and they're people who you have to be willing to open up your life to.
They have to know you and, the second thing is, they have to know God. If you're going to have the type of real, intimate relationships… Can you be boys, or can you be girls, with somebody who's not a follower of Jesus or not a Christian? Or he's like, "Yeah, I'm cool with that, but it's not really a big part of my life." Can you be friends with him? Sure. Can you spend a lot of time with him or can you like being around that person? Absolutely.
But will you experience the type of friendship that fights against loneliness? No, because you're not experiencing a friendship that shares the most intimate part about you, which if you're a Christian, is your faith. It's the fact you have a faith and you are in a relationship with the one true God through Jesus.
You're just going to have superficial, shallow relationships. So you may have a good time, you're able to catch up on memories and, "Remember that one frat party we were a part of? That was the best, man," but you're not going to have the true, real relationship God wants for you if they're not someone who actually knows God.
If you're from a family like I am where there are nonbelievers and non-Christians in your family, you can get around other Christians and it feels like you're closer…for me, closer with my community group, with other Christians I've known for a while, than I am for my own blood, or members of my family who don't share the same faith.
Why is that? Maybe you grew up in a Christian home and you're like, "Dude, my family and I are thick as thieves, so I don't even know what you're talking about." But a lot of us did not. So when we get around family and we're back home, it's like, "I feel closer with the Christians I've developed relationships with than my own family I was around for 18 years."
Why is that? It's because kindred spirits are a true thing. If you share the Holy Spirit, you all have a kindred spirit with one another. You have the same values, the same perspective, the same faith, and the same commitment to following Christ, which is a far more uniting thing than any human or family relationship will. "Blood is thicker than water."
Has anybody ever heard that before? "Blood is thicker than water, but the Spirit is greater than them both." It's the Spirit of God that bonds these people together. The strongest relationship. If you're a Christian, you are more family to me than any family member I have who is not a believer. That's what the Bible teaches. That we are all children of God united underneath Jesus together in the body of Christ.
So you need to have real relationships with someone who knows you, who you open up your life to, and somebody who knows God. What is at stake if either one of those are gone? Well, if they're someone who knows you but they don't know God, then you just get together and they're like, "Dude, let's celebrate the sins Jesus died for."
They're like, "Let's go have another one of those nights. We kind of kicked back. It was relaxing. It was a Friday and I think you got so wasted you made out with that random guy. That was amazing." And yet they don't call you to be the person who you want to be. They don't push you in the direction you want to go.
They're going to be someone who knows you because they know all the jacked-up stuff that they're like, "Dude, that's great." They're going to continue to influence you in a direction that's away from God. If they know God but they don't really know you, they just know what you let them know and you manage your perception with them, you're not open about, "Here's where I really struggle…"
If you don't have people in your life who are like that, you essentially only have Facebook friends. Think about it. What's a Facebook friend? A Facebook friend is someone who manage the perception if you're friends on Facebook. You are going to see whatever I want you to see, right?
Whatever I want to post, whatever I want to talk about, I project whatever image I want to with you. If you don't have people who know you, junk and all, scars and all, flaws and all, you just have Facebook friends. That's what you have. You just have people who you manage the perception they have.
Here's the tragedy in that: you'll never experience being loved because they don't actually know you. They don't know the you to love. The moment you're willing to open up and say, "This is really who I am," you allow for a real relationship and real intimacy and real love to take place. But as long as you hide behind, "I can't really share that or I don't feel like I can be open or honest about that," you will never have the real relationships God wants you to have, the real types of friendships he wants you to have.
It is being unknown that will make you feel alone. Some of you, the reason you feel so alone… And I hate this. If I could hammer one thing, it's because no one really knows you. You're afraid of what would happen if they actually got to know you? You're afraid of what they would think about you? The tragedy is here is if you're actually honest with people in your life… I'm not saying everybody.
You don't have to go on Facebook and be like, "I've got to let everybody know about everything in my life." I'm saying having real relationships with other believers, other Christians. If you're going, "What are they going to think about me?" They're going to think you're honest. They're going to think you're a lot like them, only more honest if they're Christian.
As long as you hide behind, "Well, I can't really be open," you're not going to have the real relationships God wants, and you're going to feel alone. God doesn't want you to feel that. One of the ways he is giving you to fight is by having real friendships. Not just any friendships.
The second myth, and probably the most widely held myth, is this: Marriage can fix my loneliness. Marriage will address your singleness, not your loneliness. Marriage can fix your singleness, and not even fix your singleness as though it's something to be fixed. Marriage will address your singleness. It can't touch your loneliness. Those are two entirely different things.
The only thing getting married does if you're someone who's lonely… I hear this all the time from people who are just like, "I just feel such a loneliness. You'll never understand because you're married. I just feel like I need to get married to someone." They're assuming marriage would fix their loneliness, that marriage will change your singleness. It will not address your loneliness, because loneliness is a heart issue only God can fix.
You can be married and lonely. You can be single and not lonely. You can be single and lonely. You can be married and not lonely. Those two things are not related together. The God who's there says he does not want you to buy the lie that marriage is meant to be some solution to the heart issues you have.
Marriage will change your singleness status, but it will not change your heart because loneliness is a heart issue. The reality is marriage can add to loneliness. So listen to me very closely. After doing this for the last 10 years, I cannot tell you how heartbroken and how often my heart is broken for the people in my life who, because they were so lonely, they thought, "You know what? I just need to get married despite the fact he's not the best candidate. He's the one I'm with right now, so let's make it happen."
They end up heartbroken. The pain of loneliness in marriage far exceeds the pain of loneliness in singleness. Please, please, please believe me. It is better to be lonely today and single than to be lonely tomorrow in marriage. If you allow loneliness and that void inside of your heart to lead you to get married to someone as an attempt to fill that, not only will it not fix your loneliness, it'll amplify it if you marry the wrong person. It's not just similar to this.
Anyone go to Costco here? Shop at Costco? That's kind of like a "Dad" thing. There are, like, five of us here. So for me, in this stage of life, we go to Costco all the time, like once a week. It's like, "Hey, we have nothing to do. We're going to Costco." It's like going to the zoo with kids. We're walking around and we'll eat the samples. What I've discovered about myself is that I can't go to Costco when I'm hungry, because I end up going around and buying things I don't need to buy.
I'm just like, "Oh, man. This apple bacon sausage is delicious. I needed this. Let's get it." Then I go home and I'm like, "I didn't mean to buy this. How did we end up with all this stuff we ended up purchasing?" I went shopping when I was hungry, and it was a bad idea. In the same way it's bad to go shopping when you're hungry, it is a bad idea to go dating when you're desperate.
Whoa, whoa. That's not just some line. That is the truth. If you are out there and you are thirsty and you're looking to satisfy something inside of you… I'm being totally serious. If there's a part of you that, out of that desperation of, "Hey, man. I just feel lonely on the inside so I'm going to go looking," you're going to end up marrying someone who is not what God says.
You're going to end up marrying someone out of that desperation and attempting to cope with that pain of, "Man, I want to not be single so bad, so I don't care if they don't exactly add up to God's Word. I'm moving forward with this." You are going to find yourself more lonely than ever before. Marriage cannot fix your loneliness, but it can add to it.
I couldn't be more clear as a guy who's so committed to seeing amazing marriages breakout all over this room. You guys get married, make babies, make disciples. It's going to be amazing. I hope it happens. I hope to be a part of it, and truly there are lots of great options around this room. Lots of probably not great options, too, so be careful.
The point being, as someone who's so deeply committed to hoping all of you end up in amazing marriages someday, I want to be abundantly clear. You need to make sure you address the heart issues inside of you before you go dating. Just like you need to address the hunger inside of you before you go shopping, you need to make sure you address the heart issues so you don't allow that desperation to push you to date someone who God says, "This is not who you should be in a relationship with."
This is why the danger of marrying or dating someone who's not a follower of Jesus or not a believer… And by "believer" I don't just mean they say they're Christian. I mean they are following Jesus. This is why it's such a bad idea. Or date someone of a different religion, of a different faith. If you think loneliness being single… If you marry someone who doesn't share the faith that you have, you are heading for tremendous heartbreak and heartache.
Think about it. It's the most intimate part about you. If you marry someone and you're Christian and they're Jewish, not only does that set up lots of challenges down the road of like, "The kids are coming to church now and they're going to synagogue. What are we going to do? I thought we were going to raise them this way…"
It's not only logistically a nightmare, it is the most intimate part of you. Your soul. You're saying, "This thing I share, this connection with God, this belief I have he alone is the one who satisfies, that he died in my place so I can know him, I'm going to live forever with him…" That most intimate, incredible thing about you, you don't share with the person who you're married to?
Think about how lonely that is. If you know anyone who's in that spot, if they're honest, what happens is their faith either dies in that marriage or their marriage dies. Either way, it leaves you with incredible loneliness. The God who is there does not want you to experience that. Marriage will not fix your loneliness. It will address your singleness.
Loneliness is a heart issue. Only Jesus can address that part of you. The best thing to do while you wait right now is begin to work on your heart, the areas of your life where you're like, "I feel like I'm looking for a solution in a man. I'm looking for a solution in a wife. I'm looking for a solution outside of Christ to fill some void, some loneliness I have. I think a person could fix it." It's just a lie.
The third and final myth is related to this idea. Accepting Christ will fix my loneliness. Accepting Jesus as the one who came, became a man, died in my place on the cross, paid for all of my sin, everything I've done in the past, everything I'll ever do in the future, every mistake I've ever made…
It was all nailed to the cross. He paid for all of it, and then he died and rose again. He came back alive, showing the payment was more than enough. Accepting that will not fix your loneliness. It is not accepting Christ that will fix it. It is walking with Christ. That is the way we battle loneliness. Accepting Christ doesn't battle loneliness. Walking with him does.
Two or three weeks ago, my wife and I joined a gym. Thank you. We're like, "Summer's here. This is going to be great." Thank you. Thank you, Mom. Thank you for that support. That's not my mom. Two weeks ago we joined a gym, and we haven't been back to exercise yet, but we have gone to the pool like eight times. It's just become our pool. As crazy as it would be if I went to that gym and was like, "Look, we signed up to get in shape and to get fit. We were told if we signed up with this gym, we would get in shape."
They'd ask us, "Well, how many times have you came and used the exercise equipment?" "None, but that is not the point. We signed up to get in shape." They would say, "What is wrong with you?" In the same way it's not access to a gym that leads someone to be in good physical fitness, it is taking advantage of that access and putting it into action that leads that.
It is not access to Christ that alone is going to solve your loneliness It is taking advantage of that access and walking with Jesus on a consistent basis. You can't only express that, "If I just accept Christ, you'll spend eternity with God in heaven." That is what the Bible teaches. If you have true faith and you confess with mouth Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart God rose from the dead, you shall be saved.
But it is not just having access to that relationship with God that's going to allow you to battle loneliness. It is taking advantage of that access and acting on it, walking with him. Any more than I could expect to be fit by having a membership, by having access to Christ, you cannot expect to battle that loneliness without walking with him consistently.
What do I mean by "walking with him"? Here are a few things I've laid out as it relates to walking. One of the first things if you want to walk with God, or what walking with Christ looks like… This is not an exhaustive list, but it should at least step you in the right direction. It involves confessing and repenting of sin.
You cannot walk with God without a willingness to confess and turn from, which is what repent means, sin. The Bible says in Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart…" Those who seek to purify their heart. Those whose hearts have been purified. "…for they shall see God." In other words, the less pure of heart you are; the more you allow sin to infiltrate, define, and contaminate your heart; the more sin is present in your life, it creates a barrier of intimacy with you and God.
It was this barrier, sin, being introduced that ultimately was the reason Adam and Eve, and mankind, were separated from God. Anytime sin is present, it creates a barrier with a perfect, Holy God. So if you continue to sin… Some of you, the reason you feel so far from God, is because you're addicted to pornography. Every time you close your eyes you see nudity. You don't see a chance to pray and reflect on God.
Some of you in a relationship, and God has been so clear. You have an anxiety about it. You wake up in the middle of the night sweating because you're like, "I know I'm not supposed to be in this, but I'm afraid of what will happen if I break up here." It's because of an unwillingness to be obedient to him you feel far from him. He didn't move; you did.
God says, "When you confess and repent of sin, when you confess and acknowledge it to God, in doing so you will have a step in the right direction of the intimacy being restored with God." Walking with him means confessing and acknowledging all of us are not perfect people. We need a Savior. So I can confess and repent and turn from that.
The second part of walking with him included here is a constant communication with him or praying to him. What does it look like to walk with God? Like, "What is it going to mean if I actually want to battle loneliness, not accepting but walking with him?" It means I'm going to confess and repent of sin when I see it in my life and when people point it out in my life.
It means I'm going to be in constant communication with you God. God doesn't want some relationship with you where you see him as either the bell service or the 911 call, but as a constant walkie-talkie. He wants a relationship, and all relationship doesn't survive without communication. He wants you to be in everything you experience and constant communication with God.
Some of you… First Peter 5:7 says, "…[cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." I want you to think about this verse. He wants you to bring to him everything you care about. Not just like, "Hey, God, I'm praying today, and thank you for this food. I want to pray for all the orphans in Africa, and I want to pray for sick Aunt Betty."
Everything you care about, your anxiety about work, your concern about your friend, your anxiety about what your boss may think of you, the presentation you have coming up, you hope you get green lights on the way to work… I don't know if you should pray for that or not, but I know he wants you to pray.
As you do so, he'll align your will to his, but he doesn't want you to hide back and say, "I can only bring things to him I can read a verse exactly for this in here of what exactly I'm praying for." He wants the relationship where you bring everything to him. "God, I'm feeling lonely right now. God, I just want to be married. I don't know how I'm going to make ends meet financially. My roommate's moving out, and I don't have an option of where I'm going to live, and I'm anxious about it. Will you provide a roommate for me? Will you help me not be anxious?"
Everything you feel. Think about that verse. Some of you need to hear this more than anything else I'm going to say, because anxiety is a part of your story, it's a part of your present. God says, "I care about everything you care about." That's what the verse says. "… [Cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."
Everything you care about, he cares about, because he cares about you and he wants you to bring those things to him. Constant communication, not as a bellhop or as a room service, like, "Hey, can I get this one thing here?" Or as 911. "Only when I'm afraid she's pregnant am I praying," but a constant communication to God he wants to have with you.
You'll be amazed whatever happens when you do that. Whenever you begin to actually pray with him, your awareness… It's like my awareness of his nearness and presence over my life is raised. It's like my awareness of how much he cares about me and cares about the things of my circumstances is raised just by praying more. "God, will you help me right now? I'm going to walk up here and share. Help me to be clear. Help me to be clear what people think about me. Will you help me?" Whatever those things are in your life, he wants you to bring them to him.
The third thing in the component of walking with Christ involves trusting and obeying. "I'm going to trust you and obey. I'm going to follow what your word says in here." "I'm going to walk by faith," is another way of saying that. "I'm going to trust what you say is right and I'm going to do it." Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world…" Don't conform to what everybody else is doing out there.
If everybody is doing it, it's probably not the behavior that should mark you. If it's the behavior or the way of thinking the world has, if it's like, "This is the common way people think today," it's probably not the right one for you. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…" That's reading God's Word and allowing the truth of what it says to transform you, not become formed in what the world tells you to be.
Then you will be able to test when you know what God's will is, which is what the Bible is. When you know what it is, then you'll be able to put it to the test. When you know what he says about sex, when you know what he says about, "Hey, flee sexual immorality. Don't allow that to be part of your relationship. That is a thing saved for marriage…"
Whenever you actually do that and you're like, "Dude, do people actually do that?" and you're like, "Hey, you know what? I'm going to try it." Whenever you do it, the Bible says then you will be able to put it to the test and you will approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will.
It's like whenever you begin to put it to the test, you're like, "Oh, I guess I'll really try this," it's as though the Bible is saying, "Test me." You're not going to end up being like, "Gosh, I've got buyer's remorse here. I cannot believe I dated the way God says to date. I really regret my decision there." "No one does it," Paul says. You begin to walk according to the ways God says to walk as it relates to your relationship with other people. As it relates to the way you use your time, your money, your job, the way you think, alcohol, sexuality.
He's like, "Do what I say. Put it to the test. You have a money-back guarantee. It works. You will be able to test it, and you will approve it because it is good, pleasing and perfect." Do you know what happens whenever that happens? When you begin to actually say, "I'm going to begin to take steps and I'm going to trust you God. This is how you think I should handle this situation. I'm going to trust you and I'm going to do it," your faith will begin to grow.
Faith is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. The same in the inverse is true. The less you exercise it, the weaker it gets. The muscle atrophies if you don't use it. That's going away. If you use it, it's going to get stronger and stronger and grow.
This is how faith works. This is why some people can walk through the valley of the shadow of the most painful things and they're unshakably fixed on God. Over their life they've said, "I'm going to trust you. I've seen you show up over and over. I've seen your ways are higher than my ways, but they're better and I can trust you."
Then there are other people who slowly by slowly begin to step away from God. Maybe they step into some kind of sexual relationship they shouldn't be a part of. Maybe they step through apathy. They're like, "I'm going to get back to being serious about my faith when I'm in my thirties and become more of an adult. I'll get serious about that then because I'm really working on my career."
They just slowly begin to step away from God. It's not overnight like, "I'm out of here, deuces." They just drift away, and they wake up one day and they're like, "I don't even know if this whole thing is true. Their faith was never exercised, and it weakened just like a muscle. If you haven't used your legs since high school, men, which many of you haven't in terms of exercising, they're going to atrophy away.
This is how faith works if you don't use it. You don't lose it in an internal sense, but it's not growing. It weakens over time. The Bible says, "If you walk with God, your faith, begin to trust him, and it will grow your trust every single time." You'll become more convinced his way is true. "I can trust him." So walking with God includes confessing and repenting, praying constantly or constant communication, and trusting and obeying him.
Let me be very practical, because we're about to wrap it up. If you're in the room or you're listening right now and you want to know, "What do I do when I'm lonely?" In that moment when it reaches and washed over me, and I feel alone? I feel alone. I feel abandoned. What do I do very specifically in that moment?" you go to God and you go to God's people.
You go to God in prayer and you say, "God, I feel alone. I feel like there's no one who cares about me. I don't even feel like you're near to me. I don't even know if praying to you will help me." You're honest and you go to him. You cry out to him and you call out to God's people. You reach out to other believers in your life.
That's why we hammer having a Community Group in your life who can care for you. Friends who, in the midst of walking through loneliness, you can reach out to and say, "I feel lonely right now. I'm battling with lies and I need someone. Will you pray for me? Will you come? Can we hang out? Can we talk? Can we go on a walk right now? I need someone in my life."
Someone who you can be in their life for in those moments where they feel loneliness grabbing ahold of their heart. You reach out to God's people and to God. You go to him in prayer and you reach out to his people. This is the way we battle against loneliness. The reason I have intentionally said "battle" and not "fix" loneliness is because in this life, in this world, because of sin entering, there's a loneliness that can be of a good thing.
It's a reminder of the fact we have been separated from God. If you're a Christian, you have been restored and are being reconciled to him, but ultimately, it's a reminder for all of us that one day loneliness and pain will be no more. It is going away for those of you who are Christians. There will come a day where you will be home.
That loneliness, the reason sometimes it feels like I'm homesick, is because you're homesick. There's going to come a day in eternity where you're going home, and it will be no more. For others of you, you've never had a moment where you've actually trusted in Jesus. The scary thing is apart from you having Christ as the payment for your sins, you're going to spend eternity alone, away from God, separated fully and finally from him.
He doesn't want you to. He's crazy in love with you. He made that abundantly clear 2,000 years ago when he reset the calendar and he died in your place. The reason I say eternity alone is because hell has been described as being totally separated and cutoff. Someone's hell is just eternal loneliness. Think about it.
"Every good and perfect gift," James 1 says, "comes from the Father of Lights who is above." Basically he's saying, "Every good and perfect thing comes from God." Every good thing comes from him. If you are cut off and hell is separation from God, there's nothing good there. You're not taking shots of Patron with your buddy and the Devil. You're not hanging out with friends like, "This is so good. Let's rehash that one time at the frat party."
You're not doing any of that. You are cut off from humanity. You're cut off from God. You're cut off from relationships, because those are good things. You are totally separated and eternally lonely. You don't have to be, because Jesus came to this earth, and he went through eternal loneliness in your place so you wouldn't have to be eternally lonely.
He went through eternal loneliness. What do I mean by that? Maybe you've heard this before or you don't understand. When Jesus died on the cross, it wasn't just the crucifixion and nails were painful and death sucks. It wasn't just like, "Oh, that had to be a rough day." It was that plus the fact he was separated from his Father. God, the Father, was separated from Christ, the Son.
It says Jesus even cried out. It was as though Jesus felt abandoned because the weight of all sin pushed him away from the Father. He took all of the sin of humanity and it created separation between the Son and the Father. In Matthew 27, he's on the cross, and one of his last statements on the cross is when he cries out and he's experiencing separation from his Father like he has never felt before.
He quotes Psalm 22, and he says, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" The answer was had he abandoned him and allowed him to experience eternal loneliness as he was crucified on that cross so you wouldn't have to forever, because he loves you. That ache in your heart, if there's anything good about loneliness, it's that it points us and reminds us you're not home.
There's something no human can satisfy, no substance can satisfy, no money can satisfy. If you don't believe that, live long enough and you'll see it. No matter how long you live, one day you will see it, either as you experience eternal satisfaction because you're home or eternal regret because you're not and you never will be. The solution for loneliness is not more friends. It's the right friends. Marriage cannot fix your loneliness, only Jesus can do that. It is walking with him every single day as a solution for how we fight and battle loneliness.
When I think about feeling alone, I'm reminded of times in my life where I just felt like, "Nobody is actually following God. No one is actually trying to live this way. There are so few people. God, the world is so crazy. It's going to hell in a handbasket, literally. The number of people who are like, 'I'm all in with Jesus. I want to seek to do his will. I want to seek to walk with him. Though none go with me, I will follow.' It's like there's just no people like that."
I remember in different stages. I remember sitting down with pastors, being like, "If this is what God wants, there are like 20 Christian on the planet, and I guess this is what my lot is. I'm going to have to be friends with these homeschool friends who smell funny. There's not a single attractive Christian girl anywhere, so I guess I have to marry Mother Teresa and woo a nun. Is that what God has for me?"
More than that, it just feels alone. "No one is actually trying to date this way, trying to live this way." It's just not true. So if you're here tonight and you are someone who's ever felt that or wondered that or thought that before, I want you to know it's just not true. In fact, all over, not just in this place, all over right now even listening wherever you are, there are people and men and women gathered together who are worshipping in different locations.
They share the same faith as you, the same kindred spirit if you're a follower of Jesus. They are seeking to not live their lives perfectly, but with the one true God and in relationship with his people. They're not just in Dallas, Texas. They're over there in Fort Worth, Texas. There are gatherings taking place right now, just so you don't feel alone. Here in Fort Worth, Texas. Here in Northwest Arkansas in Fayetteville. These are gatherings of other Porch locations taking place.
This is Houston, Texas, gathering in the Chapel. H-Town, we know you. That's my hood. Tulsa. El Paso, Texas, where people are gathering together. Get excited. The Woodlands, Texas. Phoenix, Arizona. Austin, Texas. Cincinnati, Ohio. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Corsicana, Nashville, Tennessee. There are four other different places we captured up there. I just want you to know you're not alone.
Here's the deal. The way God is working in our world is far beyond anything with the different locations of young adults gathered listening right now all over the country. It far exceeds everything. He's got his people all over the place. Men and women just like you who are seeking to follow him imperfectly, but they're striving. "Hey, I want to be who God calls me to be. I want to live the abundant life and experience eternal life forever."
You are not alone. He's got men and women right now who are praying to him in Mandarin Chinese, Farsi, French, and Spanish. His people are everywhere. You are not alone. The God who is there doesn't want you to feel alone or to experience loneliness in this life or the next. He has made clear how to battle in this one and how he has already won the battle for the next. The choice is yours and mine to accept it. Let me pray.
Father, I pray for every lonely heart right now in this room that you who knows them, who knows everything about them…you know the circumstances they feel, the anxieties that weigh on them, the future that's in store for them, the hairs on their heads, you know the number of them…that you would break through the walls of loneliness now, that you would be bigger than the pain of loneliness now, you would move them to step in the direction of your people tonight, you would help us to fight, and you would win the battle for loneliness in our hearts tomorrow and day by day.
I pray for anyone in this room who's never put their faith in Christ that tonight would be their night, that they would know there's a way you have made so they don't have to be eternally lonely forever because you faced eternal loneliness and abandonment for us. Thank you, God. We are unworthy of your love, of your sacrifice. I pray anyone who's never had a moment where they've trusted that tonight would be their night and they would experience victory in loneliness in this life and forever in the life to come. We worship you now in song, amen.