"About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my Cod, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:26.
"Alone He must tread the path; alone He must bear the burden. Upon Him who had laid off His glory and accepted the weakness of humanity the redemption of the world must rest. He saw and felt it all, but His purpose remained steadfast. Upon His arm depended the salvation of the fallen race, and He reached out His hand to grasp the hand of Omnipotent Love." The Desire of Ages, p. 111.
To walk the street of any major city in the world and to look in the faces of those you meet, is to be impressed with the look of loneliness that fills the eyes of thousands of individuals even while they are in the midst of a multitude.
Loneliness is a problem that disturbs the heart of men around the world.
Do you have periods of extreme loneliness when you feel forsaken, cut off, abandoned, isolated, and very alone?
The desire for fellowship, a sense of belonging, and the assurance of acceptance are basic needs of the human heart.
II. Why do we have a problem with loneliness?
A. One can experience loneliness because he is lost in the crowd. Merely to be in the midst of people does not guarantee that one will have the problem of loneliness solved.
B. Some experience loneliness because they feel they are misunderstood by members of their family or by the circle of people whose acceptance is important to them.
C. One can feel lonely because of mistreatment at the hands of someone else. This is a perennial problem because we are always subject to mistreatment by others.
D. One can experience loneliness as a result of frustration in his work or in the relationships of life that are important to him.
E. One can experience loneliness because of weariness of body and mind. The body and the mind must have rest from the burdens and the stresses of life.
F. One can experience loneliness because of a position of leadership. To bear the weight of responsibility or to stand at the top of an organization can be a very lonely position for the one who must make decisions.
G. One can experience loneliness because of physical or emotional suffering. Pain can be so intense that it can cause us to feel we are alone in the midst of our agony.
H. One can feel lonely because of a negative and critical attitude toward self. This is one of the major contributing causes to a feeling of loneliness. Many of us developed a negative way of thinking early in life and have never been able to replace our negative thoughts with a positive mental attitude.
I. Many experience loneliness because of known, unconfessed, and unforsaken sin in their life. This is true particularly among those who are the people of God. To tolerate known sin is to create a feeling of guilt and a feeling of not being in harmony with God. The restoration of fellowship and the joy of association come only after the sin has been confessed and forsaken. To truly make confession is to "agree with God" concerning the sin.
J. Many experience loneliness because of inadequate and incorrect understanding of the nature of God. Many of fus have accepted fragments or fractions of God's great self-revelation as being the complete revelation of the nature and purpose of God. In order to overcome the problem of loneliness, one needs to have a proper understanding of the nature of God and a life in harmony with His purpose.
K. Loneliness is often the result of permitting ourselves to live on the level of our emotions rather than letting our intellect determine the way we are going to feel and react to the various situations of life.
III. Our Lord and the problem of loneliness
Would you be surprised to know that our Lord suffered the agony of feeling lonely? Because He has experienced the pain of loneliness, we are assured by the writer of Scripture that He is able to sympathize with us and to assist us with this painful problem (Heb. 2:17, 18).
Our Lord who suffered in all points as we can provide us with a pattern or a model that can give us guidance in dealing with the painful problems of life. The words of our text are words of appalling woe for we hear the Savior crying out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The Savior felt utterly forsaken and very lonely. It seemed as if He were cut off from God completely.
On many different occasions our Lord must have experienced the pain of loneliness.
A. Our Lord was misunderstood by the members of His own family (Matt. 12:46-50).
B. Our Lord was misunderstood and rejected by the people of His own city (Luke 4:24-30).
C. Our Lord was betrayed by one of His twelve intimate friends.
D. In a time of great stress when our Lord needed the prayer support of his most intimate friends, they went to sleep leaving Him alone in His agony (Luke 22:45, 46).
E. When our Lord was seized by the hands of wicked men, we read that all of His apostles forsook Him though one did follow afar off.
F. The words of our text come from the lips of the lonely Savior while He was impaled upon a cross. In the midst of His physical anguish, His greatest suffering was the feeling of having been forsaken by His God. The words, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" are words of deepest mystery and of the profoundest solemnity. The mystery behind these words and behind the event that was taking place is beyond human power to fully comprehend.
IV. Was our Lord really forsaken?
There can be absolutely no question concerning the agony of His loneliness as He bore the burden of human guilt and condemnation. Our Lord had taken upon Himself the sin and the guilt of a rebellious creation and was dying under the penalty of human sin.
A. Our Lord felt Himself to be utterly forsaken. He felt the awful loneliness of being cut off from God, separated from God, and forsaken by His friends. There is no more intense agony than our Lord experienced at this moment as He died to redeem us from the awful penalty of sin. .
B. This cry of utter pathos reveals the genuineness of the agony of our Lord on our behalf. This was no farce. This was no mere drama. Our Lord was "smitten by God, and afflicted." He was suffering the wrath of a Holy God against the malignancy of evil.
V. What can we do to solve the problem of loneliness?
We probably need to admit that we cannot obliterate and make ourselves totally immune from the problem of loneliness. It is a problem with which we will have to deal as time goes by, and the example of our Lord provides us with a pattern to follow.
A. Our Lord responded to the problem of loneliness by crying out to God in His time of need. First and foremost, when we feel lonely we should look to the Lord for grace, guidance, and help. It is not the will of our Father God that any of us experience the painful agony of loneliness. It is His will that each of us be members of His family and that we dwell together and relate to each other in terms of warm, generous love. It is His desire that we enjoy the delight of spiritual fellowship with other members of the family at all times.
B. To develop a positive mental attitude, based on faith in God, will aid us greatly in overcoming the problem of loneliness.
C. To accept the humanity of others so as not to be knocked off balance by their misunderstanding or by mistreatment by them can help us overcome the problem of loneliness. To continuously practice the habit of forgiving others will assist us greatly in overcoming the loneliness that comes about as a result of misunderstanding and mistreatment.
D. To secure proper rest and to follow good health habits will go a long way toward helping us overcome the problem of loneliness.
E. If unconfessed and unforsaken sin is causing us to feel lonely, then we need to recognize the cause for our feeling of isolation and unhappiness and confess and forsake that attitude or action or ambition which has set up a vicious, destructive cycle in our life. Not to do so is to add to our problem of feeling lonely and forsaken.
F. Another positive suggestion comes at the point of defining our reason for being in terms of living a life of unselfish giving rather than just merely living to get.
Our Lord could endure the agony and the loneliness of the cross because of the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). Our Lord was sustained, strengthened, and stabilized because He knew that what He was doing was going to please the Father God and be most productive in its benefits for others.
Let the Lord Jesus Christ become the Savior of your life. If you have already trusted Him as your Savior, then trust in His promise to be with you at all times and under all circumstances. He has promised, "I will never fail you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).
There is none lonelier than the man who loves only himself. Moses Ben Jacob. Solitude is bearable only with God. Andre Gide (1869-1951).
Loneliness is being unaware of the One who is with us everywhere.
rt is yours. Joy is an option. And it's all been made possible by your Savior. He went without comfort so you might have it. He postponed joy so you might share in it. He willingly chose isolation so you might never be alone in your hurt and sorrow. Joni Eareckson Tada.
Margarida F. Sarli is the editorial coordinator for this section.