“Turn to me LORD and be gracious to me; for I am lonely and afflicted.” – Psalm 25:6
“God sets the lonely in families…” Psalm 68:6a
Have we been there – lonely? Probably so, if we are honest. Loneliness. The painful, crippling even paralyzing feeling of being disconnected, isolated, dismissed, unnoticed, unheard, empty, bleak, estranged and alienated from other individuals even while we are surrounded by them. Is there a life moment that mentally has started playing when we personally knew everyone of those difficult emotions listed above? Yep. Probably so. We relate. And why is it that although there are countless ways to be connected in our present day culture that study after study is revealing that we are more disconnected than ever before. Wait. What? How’s that even possible? We are not truly engaged in life-giving relationships with others. It’s an odd situation. Roge Karma states, “The coronavirus pandemic has created a loneliness epidemic, but Americans were experiencing a loneliness crisis long before COVID-19…almost 60 millions adults feel lonely or socially isolated.” Former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy adds, “loneliness is a public health epidemic.” To this need God responds – powerfully!
My pastoral mentor Alan Ahlgrim recently stated, “The isolated person is a vulnerable person. (Truth) We all desire to belong. (Yep) Everyone needs community. (Absolutely) It is not good for us to be alone. (You’ve got that right)” (Italics mine) You know what? (What?) Satan knows the value of community and companionship. Guess what? So does our God! (Oh yeah HE does) That’s why God sent His son Jesus. As John 3:16 states. God Himself invites us into a divine community relationship with Him. Then Genesis 1:26 reminds – God Himself lives in community. Enter the divine triune community of God the Father; Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then in Genesis 2:18, God notices that something is ‘not good.’ What is that? It is ‘not good’ for man to be alone. We were never created to do life in our personal ‘solitary confinement’ if you will. We need each other. We thrive on true togetherness. God knows this. Satan does too. And if Satan can get us isolated long enough-he will pick us off; destroy our faith and steal our desire to engage with others. Mentally, he will play havoc with us. We will experience a myriad of self-defeating emotions that, if allowed, will paralyze us. Been there anyone? Probably so!
So friends, when loneliness attempts to paralyze will we grasp and cling to the life-giving companionship of the Christ-Child – God WITH us! God FOR us! That’s the message of Christmas. Accepting. Embracing. Living in and with God 24/7 in HIS Presence – God WITH us – FOR us! We are not alone. (Read Psalm 23:4; Matthew 28:20). Matthew 1:23 powerfully reminds, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means ‘God WITH us.'” God WITH us! Did we catch that? Do we grasp that? Truly! Our God desires a personal relationship WITH us. He shouts it from the heavens with an angelic army in beautiful resounding harmony. Wow! The Christ-Child IS God WITH us. Let’s not miss that when loneliness tightly grips us.
So how do we combat loneliness? Be engaged with God and others. Be loving. Be reaching. Be giving. Boldly and loudly proclaim, “God is WITH me! God is FOR me! I am not alone!” Say it again. And again! Proclaim it. Claim it. Friends, Christmas is NOT about the size or amount of presents under our Christmas tree that we are all frantically trying to purchase – rather it IS all about God’s Presence! God WITH us! God FOR us! WOW! Will we accept this His precious gift: divine, yet personal companionship NOT just now, but into eternity. Will we live knowing this. I so pray this for you today, I do!
God is WITH us. God is FOR us! We are not alone. Please know and live that!
Pastor Doug Reed // Lead Pastor
Merry Christmas to you and yours. See you on-line or in person this Christmas Eve, December 24 at 4 or 5:30PM then again on Sunday, December 27 at 9:00 and 10:30AM.