The Saturday Evening Post this month is featuring a topic that is felt deeply across our society.
There is a lot of sadness in this modern world.
Despite all its glitz and glamor there are millions of people in all walks of life who are treading a path that to them has no purpose.
Many feel disillusioned and without hope and its a problem that won’t go away.
It’s the vexing problem of Loneliness.
My good friend and colleague Ps Ian Parker has recently preached on this subject and so I have asked him to share his thoughts, which I know will be a blessing to you.
The Bible says that God walked daily with Adam in the garden, then one day he said,
“It is not good for you to be alone or lonely. I will give you a friend.”
We often tell people to fill their empty loneliness with God.
That sounds good, but God filled Adam’s loneliness with another person.
There is a void inside you that only God can fill.
There’s another void that can only be filled by someone with skin on – loneliness is not good for you.
That is why kids join gangs.
They want friends so they wear their cap back to front and wear their pants crutch down near their knees.
It’s uncomfortable, but it says “I belong.”
The most severe punishment in our prisons is to put offenders in solitary confinement. That isolation often sends people insane.
In one year the average Australian today probably meets as many people as the average person did in a lifetime 100 years ago – yet we are far lonelier.
You may be sitting in church with a lot of wonderful people and feel terribly alone.
Sadly, you can be married and be as lonely as the widowed and divorced.
A recent survey of men in our country showed that 90% of them lacked a true friend they could confide in and trust.
Loneliness affects your entire being: Body, Soul, and Spirit.
1. LONELINESS AFFECTS YOU PHYSICALLY
PROFESSOR PHILLIP ZIMBARDO from Stanford University wrote in “Age of Indifference” – “I know of no more potent killer than isolation. There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and us from them. It has been shown to be a central agent in … a wide variety of disease”
THE ALAMEDA STUDY – one of the most comprehensive studies on relationships. It studied 7000 people over 9 years.
Researchers found that, “Isolated people were three times more likely to die earlier than those who had strong relational connections.”
NOW READ THIS NEXT SENTENCE SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY.
“People who had bad health habits such as, smoking – poor eating habits – obesity – alcohol abuse but strong social ties lived significantly longer than people who had great health habits but were isolated”.
Read that again and rejoice because it is saying it is better to eat mud cake and drink thick shakes with good friends than eat broccoli alone.
You will not only live longer you will feel much happier.
2. LONELINESS AFFECTS YOU SPIRITUALLY.
Many people have walked away from God because they had no close supportive Christian friend.
PAUL WAS IN JAIL AND ABOUT TO BE EXECUTED.
He was desperately lonely so he wrote to Timothy who was like a son to him.
He begins and ends his second letter requesting – almost begging Timothy to come and be with him.
2 Tim 1:4. LB – How I long to see you again. .. I remember your tears as we left each other.
2 Tim 4:9 Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.
(There will be times friends will disappoint you. We are afraid of being hurt, rejected, betrayed, judged, laughed at and abandoned by other people, so we build up walls of protection around us)
Do your best to get here before winter.
He is saying, “Timothy, I won’t be alive much longer. Come quickly. Come before winter. I need my cloak. I also need the books, and the parchments!
But Timothy, more than anything, I need you. Soon the blade will drop on my neck and right now I need a friend to be with me, to strengthen my spirit.
In 2 Cor 7:6 he was going through a very tough time and he said “God comforted us by the coming of Titus.” It wasn’t things that brought comfort but the touch of a loving friend.
Ecc 4:9-12. Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed….. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble….. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?….. A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
3. LONELINESS AFFECTS YOUR SOUL.
Neuroplasticity is a science that “explores how and why the brain changes throughout life.” One of the things we have learned is our friendships and relationships affect brain development.
There is a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. That’s where all planning – reasoning – creativity – problem solving – judgment – evaluative capacities – your ability to initiate and follow through – to change, and to solve obstacles.
For it to function well, it needs a positive, emotional climate.
It’s is designed to do two things: fight or flight.
It kicks in when we’re under threat. The stress hormones that get released under threat shut your creative thinking down like a circuit breaker.
Scientists have taken images of the brains of children who were institutionalized or not cared for as babies when their brain was developing.
They may have been fed and physically taken care of, but if they did not have a loving connection and bonding, there are literally dark spots in the brain where there should be wiring and circuitry.
To function well we need a positive emotional climate.
That is why in a hostage negotiation the negotiator never arrives and says, “You let these people go or we’re going to shoot you.”
They walk in and say, “What’s your name? What’s going on? Would you like something to eat or drink?”
They connect with them, and they gradually get them to begin sharing.
What happens? Smarter parts of their brain takes over.
IN AN EXPERIMENT WITH MONKEYS – they took a monkey and scared the daylights out of it.
The researchers would then draw blood, measure the stress hormone levels in the blood and monitor the brain activity neurotransmitters etc.
They got a baseline of how stressed and anxious the monkey really was.
Then they changed one thing. The lights flashed – the clanging and shaking didn’t stop.
They opened up the door to the cage, and they put the monkey’s buddy in the cage and shut the door.
They didn’t give him a valium or alcohol or even a banana – what they did was to give him a buddy.
Just because there was another monkey in the cage, the stress level dropped in half. Amazing!
The most important thing that you can ever do in business, as a team, as a company, as a family, as a single person in life is to make sure you have a friend in the cage with you.
JESUS HAD A STRATEGIC PLAN and it was huge.
He asks 12 very average men to take the gospel to the whole earth.
He brought them together in the upper room, and then he prays.
He does not pray to raise the finance.
He doesn’t pray for the plan.
He doesn’t pray for the strategy.
He prays for them to be connected to each other. He says, “Father, make them one as you and I are one.”
I say all that to say this;
Whether it’s in your marriage, your family, your circle of friends, or your business, the most important thing you should work on is that everybody feels connected and supported and someone has your back.
Here’s my question to you. Who is your “monkey?” Who is in the cage of life with you?
Jesus never sent people out into a stressful world alone.
It was two by two.