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HEARTBREAKING LONELINESS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, August 10, 2014

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).


Jacob was like many young people today. He had enough to eat. He had good clothes. He had so-called “friends.” He seemed to have everything you need. But one night he lost it all – and he was alone!

I’ve been preaching to young people for 55 years. I’ve been listening to the problems young men and women experience. And I’ve found that loneliness is the greatest problem facing this generation. Don’t you sometimes feel alone? – even when you are in a crowd of happy people? Don’t you feel cut off from them in some terrible, unexplainable way?

J. D. Salinger wrote short stories and novels like The Catcher in the Rye. Many young people read that novel in college or high school. And it always touches a chord in their hearts – because Salinger put into words what these young people feel – an aching inner loneliness that no adult seems to fully understand – and no one can help them overcome.  I had to read some of his stories in college, but I do not recommend them to anyone.

J. D. Salinger became so obsessed with the alienation of his own youth that he stopped writing – and became a lonely hermit. For forty-four years he lived completely alone – cut off from everyone in society. He never allowed himself to be photographed. He never gave an interview – even though he was still considered one of the most insightful authors of our time – especially concerning the loneliness young people feel in the modern world. Why did he cut off all communication with his family and friends, and become a recluse, a hermit – hidden from all contact with the outside world? It was because he gave up all hope of ever overcoming loneliness. He died alone in 2010, without ever finding a cure for his misery and inner pain.

Most young people never go that far. But the rise of drug abuse, and even suicide, show that an increasing number of college-age and high school-age young people have also given up hope of ever overcoming their alienation and loneliness. Green Day’s popular song “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” expresses the alienation many young people feel today.

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone...
I walk alone. I walk alone. I walk alone.
   (Green Day, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” 2004).

Have you ever felt like that? I know I did when I was young. This morning I am going to give four thoughts about the loneliness so many young people feel today. Please listen carefully because what I am going to say about loneliness could change the direction and course of your entire life!

I. First, the loneliness you feel is common in most
young people of our time.

According to Dr. Leonard Zunin, a prominent psychiatrist, mankind’s worst problem is loneliness. Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said, “The deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison house of his aloneness.”

And there is no place more lonely for young people than a big city like Los Angeles. Someone has said, “A city is a large community where people are lonesome together.” That being true, American cities are among the loneliest places on earth! Literally millions of young people in cities like ours are lonely. How about you? Do you ever feel that no one really cares – that no one really understands you – that no one really sympathizes with you?

Your parents are either divorced or arguing with each other most of the time. Their schedules are so busy that they come home tired and flop down on the couch to drink beer and watch television. They have no energy left to listen to you. Isn’t that right? Your parents don’t really understand you, do they? They don’t really listen to your problems, do they? They can’t help you overcome loneliness – and you know it! You knew it before I even said it – didn’t you?

Your so-called “friends” don’t help much either, do they? You are afraid to tell them your inner turmoils and fears. You’re afraid if you tell them the things that are really bothering you that they will think you are weird, and you will lose them. So you can’t really trust your friends either, can you – I mean about the inner things – and your fear of being left all alone. You can’t really talk to them about any of that, can you?

Where will you turn? You often feel like the writer of the Psalm, who said:

“I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top” (Psalm 102:7).

Young people often feel as lonely as a bird on top of the house! No wonder J. D. Salinger became a recluse, withdrawn and weird! No wonder so many young people take drugs, spend endless hours playing video games, and some even commit suicide! They can’t live in a world without real friendship. They can’t live in a world of endless loneliness!

And that’s why so many girls commit adultery. They are going along to school and they feel lonely. Some guy smiles at them and pays attention to them, and it seems to take away some of that lonely feeling. But the next thing you know the girl is pregnant – and the guy runs off and leaves her – every time! Now she’s alone and pregnant! Then she either has an abortion, which scars her forever emotionally, or she has the baby and struggles to raise it – alone! No! Leaving your church and moving out of your home, and running off to have sex with some guy you met at college will only lead to even more loneliness for you!

That’s why so many young people go and wander around in a mall. They have nothing else to do – but “hang out.” There are lights there. People are moving around. It helps a little, but not much! Alone in a crowd! Horrible!

That’s the way Jacob must have felt that night!

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).

He was all alone. Someone jumped out of the shadows and grabbed him. There was no one to help him. Jacob spent an entire night struggling with this “mugger,” who jumped out of the dark and threw him to the ground! Terrible to be all alone, and then to be attacked like that!

Did you read in the newspaper about those two teenage girls who were mugged and raped, and somehow escaped? Did you read in the paper about that young girl who was kidnapped in Utah? Yes, in Utah! There used to be very little crime there, but young men and women are being raped and mugged and kidnapped at an alarming rate.  Salt Lake City has become a haven of crime and drug trafficking. And there’s no one to help them. They’re all alone. Jacob found that out! It’s a frightening and lonely world out there for young people today.

One young person said to me, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to turn. I don’t have any real friends I can count on.” Have you ever felt that way?

II. But, secondly, the loneliness you feel can be cured in this local church.

That’s why God gave you this church! God put local churches like this in the world so that people could be happy and fellowship together – and not be lonely! Our church is here to cure your loneliness! That’s the reason we say, “Why be lonely? Come home – to church!”

Nothing can cure your loneliness like a good local church! But you must come into this church and make lasting friends here. The early Christians were happy because the church was their second home.

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat [their food] with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

Being in church all the time filled them with gladness and joy.

The Roman world was dark and cruel, and lonely. But those pagans literally poured into the churches because they found warmth and happiness, and lasting friendships in the local church. They were in church every time the door was open! Follow their example and you won’t be lonely! Come back here next Sunday! Come all the way in to the fellowship of our church! It will cure your loneliness!

We have something going on almost every night, and there are events going on all day Sunday! If you start coming to this church every week, you will not be lonely!

III. Thirdly, the loneliness you feel must be cured on
a deeper level to be lasting.

But I would be dishonest if I didn’t tell you that you must have a deeper experience if the cure for loneliness is to be a lasting one. It’s great to have friends in the church, but that’s only the beginning. If your only purpose is to have new friends, you won’t get saved, and you will one day be cut off from God, and everyone else, in Hell. And there is no more lonely place in all the universe than Hell!

If all you are looking for is new friends, you will leave sooner or later to run off with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or to sin in some other way. Or you will ultimately die – and then experience the worst loneliness of all – in the Lake of Fire!

To permanently cure loneliness, you must go deeper – and you must look inwardly.

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).

This lonely night-long contest represents the deeper, inward searching of the soul for Jesus Christ. You see, the man Jacob wrestled with was Jesus Christ Himself – the pre-incarnate Christ!

Jesus said:

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Only when you strive to enter into Christ can you experience conversion, and find

“peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

You are cut off from God by sin. That’s why God isn’t real to you. Only through an inward conversion can you find “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

IV. And then, fourthly, the loneliness of conversion is necessary
for you to be saved.

What do I mean by “the loneliness of conversion”? I mean that no one can experience this for you. You have to go through this inner experience alone. The Apostle Paul said:

“For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died” (Romans 7:9).

You’re going on in your life without any pangs of conscience. Then the Holy Spirit begins to awaken you. You begin to think about your sins. You begin to think about God and judgment. That’s God awakening you.

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).

You will have a lonely struggle with Christ if you want to be truly converted. You have to be convinced inwardly of your sin and your ruined nature. You have to be convinced inwardly of sin and judgment. You must come to Jesus, the Son of God, and believe on Him with saving faith. Only then will you experience a real conversion, that will last for all time, and for all eternity. Only then will your loneliness be cured forever.

You see, the cure of loneliness is only a by-product. The main thing Jesus Christ does is forgive sin. When you have gone through the struggle and crisis of conversion, then, as a by-product, as something else thrown in, you also receive a permanent cure for what I call our “cosmic loneliness.” Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.”

But start by coming back to church next Sunday. That will be the beginning of a new and better life for you. Nothing takes the place of a church like this. But you can’t get help if you come once in a while! Could you become healthy by going to a gym once in a while? Could you graduate from college if you went to class once in a while? Of course not! And if you want the church to cure your loneliness, you can’t just come once in a while! You must come in with us. You must come into the fellowship. You can’t make friends with someone you see just once in a while! We want to become the best friends you ever had! If you come every week, your loneliness will soon be cured! Come back and have fun with us! Sing my little chorus together!

Come home to the church and eat,
Gather for fellowship sweet;
It’ll be quite a treat
When we sit down to eat!
   (“Come Home to Dinner” by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., 1941-;
      to the tune of “On the Wings of a Dove”).

Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He rose from the dead to give you life! Come home to church! Come home to Jesus, the Son of God. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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These sermon manuscripts are not copyrighted. You may use them without Dr. Hymers’
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Genesis 32:22-25.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (by Green Day, 2004)/
“Never Lonely, Never Fearing” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

HEARTBREAKING LONELINESS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).

I.   First, the loneliness you feel is common in most young people
of our time, Psalm 102:7.

II.  Second, the loneliness you feel can be cured in this local church,
Acts 2:46-47.

III. Third, the loneliness you feel must be cured on a deeper level to be
lasting, Jeremiah 29:13; Romans 5:1.

IV. Fourth, the loneliness of conversion is necessary for you to be saved,
Romans 7:9.