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Dear John (published in The Tribune 8/20/2011)

posted Sep 7, 2013, 1:16 PM by Fccea Webmaster
A fellow goes a psychiatrist and says, "Doctor, I dont know what's wrong with me. Nobody will talk to me. My employees don't talk to me, my children don't talk to me, my wife doesn't talk to me why will no one talk to me?" The psychiatrist says, "Next!"
That would be brutal, wouldn't it? Yet, there are a lot of people who feel just that lonely though surrounded by others.

Naturally, that's an opportunity for us who claim to be Christ-followers. Befriending someone who feels left out and alone is a means of ministry available to all, one that should be part of a true Christian life.

But what if you are that lonely person? Maybe no one knows, but that's you. Your heart is yearning for companionship, but everyone seems to be saying, "Next?". What can you do?

A partial solution is to make yourself available to others. Strategize! Dorothy Parker, well-known literary figure in the early 20th century, once found herself in a small, dingy cubbyhole office in the Metropolitan Opera House building in NYC. Feeling depressed that no one ever came to see her, she had the sign painter remove her name from her door and replace it with "GENTLEMEN"! You have to admire her creativity.

Less drastic measures might entail seeking involvement in local social clubs (for reading, hiking, sporting activities, etc.), political organizations, church, or other places where people gather.

Even better, find ways to serve others. Service organizations abound, and always need volunteers. In one sense, loneliness is a preoccupation with self, and serving others is a beneficial way to re-channel a destructive self-absorption into a productive other-orientation.

But there is another often-overlooked possibility to explore. The Bible introduces a God who seeks relationship with His fallen creation. This is not driven by any sense of need on His part, but by His decision to love us.

Peter explains that God's patience with our failures, and the fact that He delays judgment, is a constant invitation to enter into a relationship with him: "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (II Pet 3:8).

What does this have to do with loneliness? Simply this. It is one of the many methods that God uses to nudge us toward Himself. He knows the human heart can ultimately only be satisfied by Him, and so seeking God belongs at the top of the "How to address loneliness" list.

James tells us in 2:23 how this can happen: "And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness' -- and he was called a friend of God." Isnt that a great title? Friend of God! And it's available to anyone who like Abraham will accept the gift of salvation that God offers on the basis of the death and resurrection of Christ to all who believe.

Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." That first phrase reminds us that human companionship is not perfect. It brings to mind the trapeze artist, flying through the air and reaching out to the partner who has always been there, only to see a note on the other just-out-of-reach trapeze that reads, "Dear John, There's no easy way to tell you this . . ." Human relationships all fail eventually -- at death if not sooner. Be prepared.

"But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Why not let Him adopt you? He's willing. And He will never leave you or forsake you.

By His Grace, Pastor Dave