Mind Viruses 3- Loneliness Virus

July 24, 2017

In this series we’ve seen how viruses affect and infect your subconscious mind. We’ve seen how learning involves us accessing He subconscious through our conscious mind, and we found that when you consciously do an action over and over and thereby commit it to your subconscious mind, it is powerful training indeed.

 

But on the flip side, addictions are when the subconscious dictates to the conscious how to act. We call it a compulsion. But mind viruses are different… they access our subconscious mind in the most subtle of ways. Yes through our conscious mind, but in a way we would never suspect.

 

And then they can influence every part of our existence, and start influencing how we feel, react and behave, or misbehave as the case might be.

 

As a follow up to what Melva shared last week, this week I want to have a look at a virus that is increasing in frequency and affecting many of us so subtly we don’t even realise…

 

THE LONELINESS VIRUS

 

We are social creatures… always have been, always will be.

 

So here’s the irony… we live in the most connected generation in history, yet we are lonelier and more depressed than ever before! Why? Because the enemy has created a virus that infects so many of us, and society subtly infects us with this virus… the loneliness virus.

 

I met a 40 year old lady this week who told me that, after her 10 year and 2 child de facto relationship had collapsed, she is alone and miserable, so she is putting herself out there on dating websites and fighting off sleazy guys who only want sexual relations not an actual relationship. She is lonely, and she is one of millions infected by the loneliness virus.

 

Look at our Songs, movies, TV shows, books… life imitates art in that loneliness is all around.

 

WELCOME TO HEARTBREAK HOTEL

 

Since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell

It’s down at the end of lonely street, called Heartbreak Hotel

You’ll be so lonely you could die.

 

Loneliness is a virus that has always been there. You hold in your hand a universal communication device. You can talk to or write texts to anybody, anywhere, any time. So clearly loneliness is not simply a function of not having the ability to communicate.

 

I mean, we have email taking seconds instead of snail mail taking weeks or months. We have cellphones to call each other, instead of trying to find a phone booth like Superman. You can have 600 Facebook friends, and be the loneliest person in the world. All this technology, all this communication and still we struggle with a feeling of being separate.

 

In fact, from birth we as human beings crave attachment and connection.  Without attachment or relationship, infants will fail to thrive. Without a feeling of connectedness, adults may yield to depression. Because God created people in His image, He made them relational.

 

Right back at creation God said,

Genesis 2:18

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

When God saw Adam alone in the Garden of Eden, He described it is “not good” (Gen. 2:18). Despite God’s own presence and relationship with Adam, God knew people also need human relationships. And nothing has changed, we still need both.

 

Human beings like you and I need both vertical intimacy (with God) and horizontal intimacy (with people) in order to feel fulfilled. Without these relationships, we are vulnerable to the complex set of emotions described as “loneliness.”

 

So, loneliness is not just being alone. I like being alone, as do many of you, some more than others. In fact, there is much to be said for being alone, to spend time with God, to ponder the meanings of life, to relax and chill, sleep, maybe think a bit, maybe cry a little.

 

Being alone on your terms, by your choice is not loneliness. That’s solitude, and I like it, even crave it at times. Loneliness is when being alone is forced upon you, and it quickly leads to depression and its associated problems. So where did this come from?

 

When sin entered the Garden, genuine intimacy disappeared. Adam and Eve blamed each other, lied, blamed God and excused themselves. From that moment, genuine intimacy with God and even with other human beings was lost. Loneliness in people has its beginnings in sin, like all other evils we see in the world.

 

WHY IS THERE AN EPIDEMIC? OR IS IT A TECHIDEMIC?

 

Any casual observer would agree that today, more than ever, the loneliness virus is rampant. Why is that, especially given we are technologically more connected than ever?

 

I think that’s it… technology and lifestyle. While the technology connects us to people on the other side of the world we don’t know and will never meet, we fail to connect socially with people right next to us in a coffee shop!

 

Truth is, more than ever before, we hide behind technology and the anonymity it offers. Couple this with a modern lifestyle that has cut the heart out of families, marriage and relationships, and you have a recipe for loneliness. Our society cannot even define who a person is and what a marriage is, so this further destabilises people’s live.

 

We are even told by society today that love and acceptance equally agreement. If we disagree with someone’s opinion apparently now we cannot love or accept them, further isolating them! One young lady I know told me she is turning into a boy, and that if I love her I would agree with her decision. I said I Di not agree with her, but nothing will stop my live for her, and she was confused.

 

 

No wonder the modern world is so miserable… we’ve put a modern twist on an age old problem!

 

In Christ, people can rediscover the pathway to genuine intimate connection, and they can catch glimpses of true and restored relationship with God and other Christians. Yet even us Christians are not yet able to fully appreciate the spiritual connection this side of heaven. Therefore, loneliness continues to be the constant companion of the human race, regardless of technology, regardless of how rich, powerful or successful you are.

 

So everyone from Napoleon to Elvis, from Marilyn Monroe to Janice Joplin, all publicly have declared struggles with loneliness. The wealthy, the powerful, the popular so often are lonely because with all the trappings, they are infected with the same mind virus.

 

And remember, a virus gets into your body and uses your own cell’s DNA against you. In the same way, this virus gets into your subconscious and uses your own thoughts, your own fears, your own sense of rejection, against you!

 

SYMPTOMS OF THE LONELINESS VIRUS

 

 

Psalm 142:1-7

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.

I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!

In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.

Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me;

no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.

 

I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!

Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!

 

The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.

 

This Psalm is a beautiful illustration of the cycle of sadness, loneliness and discouragement we all face at some time, or if you’re like me, you face pretty regularly.

 

David wrote this Psalm when we was on the run from King Saul, in the cave of Adullam…

 

1 Samuel 22:2

And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

 

Birds of a feather, right? He wrote these words because he was surrounded by 400 people of like mind, oppressed, depressed, distressed and miserable. Even in that crowd, he was alone. 

 

He was the leader, he was the one they looked to, so he couldn’t let them see how he actually felt inside. Like many of you, he painted on a happy face and came to church. He smiled and said, “She’ll be right mate,” but inside he was desperately lonely.  You can put flowers on a grave to make it look nice, but inside there’s still death and destruction.

 

So let’s look at the symptoms of the virus that David expresses in this Psalm…

 

 

1.     FEELING OVERWHELMED

 

Verse 3, my spirit faints within me. The Hebrew for this word faints means overwhelmed, swooning, made feeble, fainting or muffled. Circumstances are such that they overwhelm him and actually muffle his spirit. I experience this often, and sometimes I’m overwhelmed to the point of numbness.

 

Some of you here will feel like that right now. Whatever is troubling you, whatever you struggle with within, you reach the point of overwhelm, like you’re about to faint, and the joy of the Lord is not your strength, it’s a distant memory, muffled and suppressed.

 

 

2.     FEELING DESERTED

 

Psalms 142:4

Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me;

no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.

 

Notice the lonely words David uses… total rejection, abandonment, isolation. No one cares he laments, because he’s hunted by Saul, abandoned by friends, surrounded by the world.

 

I bet many here feel like that. You ask, does anyone even notice me? Does anyone care? Does anyone even notice how I feel? I’m so alone

 

 

3.     FEELING DEPRESSED

 

Psalms 142:6

Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!

 

That phrase in Hebrews literally means to be in a valley experience, emotionally so low, a walking through the valley of the shadow of death experience. That’s the lowest ebb of human existence, the bottom of the pit, where all hope is gone. To put it in 21st century speak, he is depressed, zo low he needs Zo-loft! We would rather medicate than meditate on God’s Word and promises!

 

 

 

4.     FEELING HOPELESS

 

Verse 6 continues... Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!

 

At this point he is feels so alone that he is without hope.  Those against him are too strong, those with him too down, he feels lonely, depresses and at his lowest point. The walls are closing in, and in the next verse he cries,

 

Psalms 142:7

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!

 

Some of you here feel like you are in prison. You try and cheer up. You dress the prison up with nice curtains and furniture, but it is still a prison.

 

Today is the day you begin to dismantle your prison, because today Jesus says…

 

Luke 4:18

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

 

Is the loneliness virus oppressing you today?

 

WHAT IS THE CURE FOR THE COMMON LONELINESS VIRUS?

 

The cure for this potentially devastating and debilitating virus is multi step, but you can and will overcome the virus of loneliness in your life. The answer is not to join a social network, or dating site, because with all the tech, we still need real people and real relationships, right here where we stand, right now! Let’s get back to that Psalm…

 

1.     RECOGNISE YOUR EMOTIONS

 

Psalms 142:3

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!

In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.

 

David recognises and even visualises the rough, difficult, dark path, the valley of the shadow of death. Later he visualises a prison, and what he is doing here is recognising his emotions. When you visualise, it bypasses the intellect and goes to the heart. That’s why songs and movies are so powerful and tug at your emotions.

 

So if you feel lonely and broken-hearted, don’t suppress it, recognise it as a valid and very real emotion.  

 

We often fake it, don’t we? We come to God with pious platitudes not honest openness. Listen, God is not interested in religious prayers, He responds to open and contrite hearts. We have the greatest friend, the One who created and redeemed us, who longs to meet our every need, spiritual, emotional and physical, and we can’t even open up and be honest with Him. We cannot fool Him you know!

 

Proverbs 18:24

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

 

Step 1 is recognising your emotions and how you feel and this must lead to step 2, being honest and telling God how you actually feel, even if it’s ugly. He’s big, He can take it!

 

 

2.     VERBALISE YOUR EMOTIONS

 

Psalms 142:1-2

Psalm 142

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.

I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.

 

He does the same in verse 5, and 7. David verbalised how he felt, he didn’t dress it up and pretend, he didn’t toughen up soldier on, he offered cries and complaints not a stiff upper lip!

 

Habakkuk 1:2

 

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?

Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?

 

Habakkuk didn’t hold back and sound all godly, he let God know how he felt. It’s ok to tell God that you are lonely, that you are down and miserable, because He can take it and He won’t take offence. But bear in mind that your anger, frustration and lashing out at God isn’t what impresses Him… your faith does!

 

 

3.     RECOGNISE HIS PRESENCE

 

Psalms 142:5

I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

 

This is the turning point… the moment when, having recognised our feelings and emotions, having verbalised them, having ranted and raved and got it out of our system, we then need to take our eyes off how we feel and place them firmly on Christ, our provider and our sustainer. We need to hide in the shadow of His wings, we need to turn our eyes upon Him.

 

Psalms 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

 

When you are overwhelmed by loneliness, stop and recognise that He is with you. He cares, He loves you, He wants the best for you and He walks the road with you, as in Psalm 23.

 

I remember when my girls hit puberty. Suddenly, instead of logical processing of problems we got the waterworks. I remember as a father reaching the point where it was all too much emotion for me, so I would walk away and say, talk to your mum! But God never does that. He is always there, He is always ready to listen, to save and to care for you. He never leaves you.

 

4.     RECOGNISE HIS PAST PROVISION

 

Look back at your life. How many times has God sustained you, provided for you, blessed you?

 

Psalms 77:11-12

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

 

We don’t stop to remember how we have been blessed enough, do we? When we recognise His provision in our lives, our faith is strengthened, and we recognise that

 

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

This includes emotional needs. This includes His promises

 

5.     RECOGNISE HIS PROMISES

 

If you are lonely, God makes you a promise...

 

Psalms 68:5-6 (NIV)

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing;

but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

 

We live in a sun-scorched land, full of loneliness and pain. But God promises to set the lonely in families, and this church is a family, here for you. What we all need to do is take our eyes off our circumstances and feelings, and place them firmly on God and His promises!

 

6.     REACH OUT AND SERVE OTHERS

 

I know this might seem crazy, but when you are lonely one of the best things you can do is to serve others. Why? Because it takes your eyes off yourself as you serve others. And the church is a great place to do that.

 

Hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

 

If you’re lonely today, please don’t pull away. Let us stand with you, let us open our arms to you. So many isolate ems elves when they are feeling down, and that just drives the virus further into your subconscious. Don’t run, stay and open up to those who will love you. I know you’re fearful, but we are family, and we love you. Sure, every family has an annoying sister or a weird uncle, but as unworthy and inadequate as we are, many here want to share the journey with you. If you open up, if you have a heart to serve others, your loneliness will begin to dry up!

 

 

7.     REACH OUT TO HIM

 

But we must also recognise that no person, no pastor and no church can ever be all that we need. No person can ever fully take our loneliness, so pressuring people around us to fulfil our needs is foolishness. They cannot possibly do it.

 

Only One person can be all that you need, and only One can take away the loneliness you feel. Yes surround yourself with good people who love you, and this church needs to be part of that, but only One can fully cure the virus of loneliness …

 

James 4:7-8

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

Drawing near to God is the ultimate cure for loneliness. Can you trust Him to build the right human relationships into your life?

 

John 14:16-18

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

 

Lonely people either draw away from God or towards Him. It’s a simple choice. So what will it be today for you?

 

THE MISSING LINK

 

So what’s the missing link in the battle against loneliness? Here’s a hint… it helps you draw near to Christ.  That’s right, reading the Bible every day is the great kept to conquering loneliness.

 

So today, I want to ask you to stand.

 

Let me finish with the words of Paul. Let us take these in and believe them today, and let us live them…

 

Romans 8:35-39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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