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HELP FOR THE LONELY!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, October 13, 2002


"Woe to him that is alone when he falleth" (Ecclesiastes 4:10).


Before my mother moved in with us she lived alone. One night she fell in the bathtub. She had experienced a stroke a few months earlier. Her legs wouldn't work. She laid there all night in the bathtub. Horrible! That was one of the experiences that led to her conversion at the age of eighty. "Woe to him that is alone when he falleth" (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Most young people experience feelings of loneliness today. Several surveys reveal that loneliness is experienced by most college-age young people. I believe that loneliness is the greatest problem you face. It can lead to isolation, mental disease, physical problems, hopelessness, and even suicide. When the problems of life confront you, then you will discover that the Bible was right.

"Woe to him that is alone when he falleth" (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Since it is the greatest single problem you face, let us consider three things about loneliness this morning.

I. First, what is loneliness?

Job described loneliness with these words:

"He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me" (Job 19:13-14).

The modern philosophy of Existentialism teaches that human existence is a basically lonely experience. At the end of each day you are alone. No one can fully understand or appreciate your pains and sorrows. You can talk to other people, the Existentialists say, but this is ultimately futile, because something is always missing. You cannot fully express your feelings to another human being. The Existentialists tell us that there is a painful reality that ultimately you are alone, by yourself, and, in the end, lonely.

Loneliness has been expressed throughout history in literature, music and art, because loneliness is a universal phenomenon. It is inescapable. It comes to all people. But young people in America feel more lonely, probably, than any group in the world.

If you are abandoned as a child, you will protest by screaming for a while, then you will quietly withdraw. Finally, after about ten days, you will become detached and withdrawn, with no emotional involvement. Infants may actually die if they are not talked to, held, and stroked. Social contact is a powerful human need. One out of every five Americans do not have a friend with whom they could discuss a personal problem. The Bible says:

"Woe to him that is alone" (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

II. Second, how loneliness affects your health.

New research shows that lonely people have a far greater risk of heart disease, for instance. According to an article on the Health Scout News website:

Researchers gave 99 male and female Ohio State University undergraduates a questionnaire to determine whether they were lonely. The researchers then monitored their blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac output while they did stressful tasks.

Blood pressure rose for both the lonely and non-lonely students during both tests…[but] the lonely students had chronically higher levels of what's known as vascular resistance…Vascular resistance occurs when the arterioles (small arteries) are too constricted to handle the increased output from the heart, making it more difficult for blood to flow, hence, raising blood pressure.

Over time, both vascular resistance and chronically high blood pressure are risk factors for heart disease.

In the long run, vascular resistance could increase wear and tear on blood vessels, increase the likelihood of blockages and increase blood pressure, says study co-author Louise Hawkley, a research scientist at the Institute for Mind and Biology at the University of Chicago.

This finding is consistent with the idea that, over time, vascular resistance in the lonely can lead to hypertension [high blood pressure], Hawkley says.

Sarah Knox, a psychophysiologist at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, says, "There is a large body of research that shows people who are lonely die sooner." Knox says, "We know they have poorer cardiovascular health."
(www.buildingbetterhealth.com/article/hscoutn/102433378)

It's as simple as that. If you are lonely, it is bad for your heart and blood vessels. That's why the Bible says:

"It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18).

"Woe to him that is alone" (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Here is another report from the Health News website:

Escape from loneliness may drive Ecstasy use.

Many young people drawn to the "party drug" Ecstasy may use it as a way to banish feelings of loneliness, according to new research.

"Given the…effects of Ecstasy in promoting 'togetherness,' it is likely taken by people who feel socially isolated and...unable to feel a sense of belonging in other ways," said researcher Dr. Ami Rokach, of York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The use of [the drug] Ecstasy has surged in recent years among youth, who often consume it at dance clubs and "rave" parties. Numerous reports of serious adverse reactions and even deaths linked to the drug have heightened public concern.

Ecstasy users were much more prone to relying on networks of friends to help them feel less alone, and were also more likely to deny…their feelings of loneliness by using drugs or alcohol, compared with non-users.

[Rokach said], "The locations in which the drug is most popularly consumed, namely at Raves and parties, are also conducive to a feeling of oneness," the researchers point out. "A lonely individual who attends a Rave and takes [Ecstasy] may find himself suddenly surrounded by hundreds of 'friends,' most of whom are also taking the same drug…and seeking connection with others."

According to Rokach and Ozeck, counselors…need to address core feelings of loneliness, "especially when counseling Ecstasy abusers in their teens or young adulthood years."
   (http://12.42.224.168/HealthNews/reuters/NewsStory0822200217.htm)

My question is this: why don't these doctors just send those lonely kids to our church? Then they wouldn't have to take a drug because they're lonely! Why be lonely? Come home - to church!

III. How the local church can heal your loneliness.

The Bible says:

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

"Two are better than one." That's pretty simple. It seems to me to be pretty simple: young people need to be in a church like this one! You need Christian friends to help you make it in this dark and unfriendly world!

I was in the jacuzzi at my gym last Monday night. I was talking with an old man who is a Seventh Day Adventist. He asked me about our church. I told him, "It's a young people's church. We evangelize seven or eight college campuses around Los Angeles and bring in young people to our church." He said, "What's the attraction?" I said, "Me." "You?" he asked, raising his eyebrows, "Why, you don't look like a youth leader!" I sure didn't! I was exhausted, with my hair streaked down the sides of my head, and an old pair of dirty swimming goggles on top of my head. I said, "Yes, me. I work day and night to make our church a warm and friendly place for them. And I tell those young people, 'Why be lonely? Come home - to church!'" And they do!

That was the appeal of the early church, recorded in the book of Acts, in the New Testament. The Roman world was a cold and lonely place for young people in the first century. The Roman world was cruel, and heartless, and lonely. When young people found the church, they found a lively and loving group of people better than any rave or "dance club." Yes, they were young people. The average person in that day didn't live past thirty-five or forty. A fifty-year-old man was considered ancient. These were young people - and they poured into those early churches by the thousands.

"And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).

Yes, young people were coming into the church "daily," every day! The Bible says:

"And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women" (Acts 5:14).

One of the main reasons that thousands of young people came into the churches in the first century was because they were lonely - and the churches healed their loneliness! They loved being together. They were in church every time the door was open! There was such a move of God that Christianity spread like lightning throughout the whole Roman world in just a few decades!

You couldn't stop these young people from coming to church. They loved being together. They loved God and they loved each other. The Bible says, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it" (Song of Solomon 8:7). That proved to be literally true in the first century. The pagan Roman Emperors, like Caligula, Nero, Domitian, and Diocletian, tried to stop the churches from growing. They persecuted those young Christians horribly. They burned thousands of them alive. They threw them to the lions in the Coloseum in Rome. They crucified them by the hundreds. But the Emperors could not stop the churches from growing. The more Christians they killed or imprisoned, the more young people flocked into the churches and wanted to be saved. They loved each other more than life itself! "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it" (Song of Solomon 8:7).

The same thing is happening right now in Sudan and the People's Republic of China. The Muslims are killing Christians by the thousands in Sudan. But hundreds of thousands more are pouring into the churches there. The Muslims have killed three million Christians there, but people keep getting converted. Nothing can stop them because they love God, and they love being together. It's happening in China. The Communist officials don't know what to do! They lock up pastors, but it doesn't seem to stop the inflow of millions to the churches. Here's a report from the New York Times on the persecution in China:

Church leaders get life in China

BEIJING - After a new trial lasting less than two days, three leaders of an underground Christian church, whose death sentences were overturned by an appeals court, were resentenced Thursday to life in prison. In the unusual retrial, which came after a global outcry over China's fierce suppression of the evangelical Protestant group, the previous charges of fomenting an "evil cult" were dropped. But Gong Shengliang, the founder of the banned South China Church, and two other leaders were reconvicted Thursday on [false] charges of rape, assault and destruction of public property and given life sentences, relatives and lawyers told rights monitors abroad (New York Times, October 11, 2002).

The more Christians they imprison and torture, the more people flock into the churches. Literally millions of young people are flowing like a mighty river into the churches of China this morning. These young people have found something that the world does not offer! They have found love, and warmth, and friendships in church! They have found God. They have found the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, the Son of God! These are things that no Muslim terrorist or Communist policeman can stop. These young people are saying, "I would rather be a Christian than live. You can take my life! I've found something better than life!"

Here in the darkness of America there is no revival like that in Sudan or in the People's Republic of China. We have wealth, but we do not have living Christianity. We have cars, and money, and movies, and drugs, but we don't have churches like they have.

But here, in downtown Los Angeles, I believe that God Himself is raising up a church like theirs - a church where young people can come home to God through Jesus Christ. Come and help us make this church a second home for lonely college-age kids. Come and help us make this church better than any Rave or drug party, or dance club. Help me make this a living church, where lonely young people can come and be converted to Jesus Christ!

Christ died to pay for your sins! Christ has risen! Christ is alive - at the right hand of God in Heaven! Come to Him and be saved!

Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Come home to Jesus Christ, the Son of God! Come to Christ and be washed from your sins by His Blood! Then come on Saturday night! Then come on Sunday morning! Then come on Sunday night! Come! Come! Come! Come!

"The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17).

Let us sing hymn number one:

Majestic sweetness sits enthroned Upon the Saviour's brow;
His head with radiant glories crowned, His lips with grace o'erflow,
His lips with grace o'erflow.

No mortal can with Him compare, Among the sons of men,
Fairer is He than all the fair That fill the heavenly train,
That fill the heavenly train.

He saw me plunged in deep distress, And flew to my relief;
For me He bore the shameful Cross And carried all my grief,
And carried all my grief.

To Him I owe my life and breath, And all the joys I have;
He makes me triumph over death And saves me from the grave,
And saves me from the grave.

Since from His bounty I receive Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give, Lord, they should all be thine,
Lord, they should all be thine.
   ("Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned," by Samuel Stennett, 1727-1795).


(END OF SERMON)


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Ecclesiastes 4:7-10.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus" (by Anna B. Russell, 1862-1954).

THE OUTLINE OF

HELP FOR THE LONELY!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Woe to him that is alone when he falleth" (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

I.   What is loneliness? Job 19:13-14.

II.  How loneliness affects your health, Genesis 2:18; Ecclesiastes 4:10.

III. How the local church can cure your loneliness, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10;
Acts 2:47; Acts 5:14; Song of Solomon 8:7; Revelation 22:17.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."