Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered February 4, 2006 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

We Are Never Alone

(RealAudio Version is available)

During WWII the Germans and Japanese conducted experiments to find the best type of punishment which would extract information from their prisoners. Can you guess what worked the best? It was not forced labor. It wasn't torture. It was not even starvation. The most effective method was solitary confinement. After days of being alone in complete darkness chained to a wall in silence, many men would tell almost everything. As they were languishing there, thinking about their circumstances, their tongue loosened.

Our wonderful God knows that we need fellowship. Without fellowship we become easy victims to temptation and we often abandon our values that we have held over many years. It is during the dark lonely hours of our hours that we are the weakest. But, God's omnipresence means that He is always with us. Have you ever felt alone? Of course you have. There have been iteimes in your life when you have been lonely, and God is always there. There is none more lonely than a rich old man who loves only himself. Come over here to Isaiah 63. Probably this is how many people have felt at various periods in their life. Isaiah 63:3. "I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me." That's aloneness.

A letter was written to Ann Landers:

"Dear Ann Landers:

"'Please come home early.' This was the most unreasonable request ever made by my wife of almost 40 years. She didn't make this request often. It came mostly on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, but it seemed that I always had so many things to do that in spite of her gentle urging, I rarely came home early. It seemed that I was at home a lot. We rarely did anything out of the ordinary. We enjoyed the kids and the grandchildren. We listened to music, read the paper, and had meals together. Sometimes we would just talk. Now I know why she asked me so often to 'Please come home early.' She wasn't just lonely, she was lonely for me.

"When she passed away a short time ago, I learned firsthand what loneliness is all about. I have a supportive family and many good friends. I'm lonesome. Lonesome for her. Now that she's gone, I've found the time to 'come home early,' but there is nobody to come home to. There is nobody to do those simple little things with, such as watching the evening news, listening to music, and reading the paper. And nobody cares how my day went." Signed -- Lonesome in K.C.

You know, Actually somebody does care. We're never totally alone. We have a quality Friend in our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. God cares. God is always there. He wants to be readily available. If we cry out to Him He will be right by your side. With God there, you are never home alone.

Loneliness is a growing problem in the world, especially in America. A study by the American Council of Life Insurance reported that the most lonely group in America are college students. Can you believe that? That's surprising to me. Next on the list are divorced people, welfare recipients, single mothers, rural students, housewives, and the elderly in rest homes or assisted care.

How well I remember the day my loving parents dropped me off at my dorm room in Burch Hall when I was a new freshman at College. I was a lonely stranger in Berrien Springs. There was a sad lump in my throat for days. There I was, surrounded by hundreds of young people and never felt so alone in my entire life. Was I alone?

No. During my time there I developed a deep relationship with God. Some People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges. They bring it upon themselves. Many Christians suffer from loneliness because they are sitting instead of serving. Loneliness is being unaware of the One who is with us all the time, everywhere. Jesus said, "Surely I am with you always."1

A four year old girl got too close to a construction smudge pot and her pants caught on fire. Her legs were terribly scarred. In the third grade she was asked if you could have one wish what would it be? Sarah wrote: "I want everyone to have legs like mine." We want others to be like us. We don't want to be alone.

Let's look at several unique circumstances that maybe many of you face.

1)--THOSE WHO MUST BE ALONE AT NIGHT. They hate it. Every creak in the house might be a snake coming in, or there's a burglar or something. "Something is going to get me." When you are alone at night in the dark, far from the help of someone else, what will it do for you to know that the same God who sent the angels to spend the long dark night with Daniel in that den of hungry lions, has already posted a guardian angel around your dwelling place? You need to realize the presence of god, and you'll never be alone. If you could just sense His presence. Or, perhaps you've got to drive home in the dark and you think, 'My what if I have a flat tire! I surely hope I don't have one here.

Friend, if you can sense the presence of the companionship of the heavenly angels with you, then you will not be afraid. One of my favorite texts is Psalm 34:7, The angel of the Lord encamps around those that fear Him and he delivers them. You never walk alone, you walk with Christ.

2) THE ONLY CHRISTIAN AT WORK, and you feel alone. Let's suppose that you have to work with evil people. They swear and drink and smoke and joke and ridicule you. What will it do for you to know that God is with you? I had a whole summer of that in Fort Wayne. It was a terrible summer. They joke at you, they ridicule your God. You're the only Christian there. What will it do for you to know that God is with you there, and God is observing your reaction when they despitefully use you? That surely helped me. God will give you strength to endure. God will give you the strength to withstand their insults and remarks. You are not alone.

3) Maybe you're MARRIED TO A NON-CHRISTIAN, and you're alone. Several dear people in this congregation are married to someone who stays at home when you go to church. You have to sit there alone in that pew. You have nobody to be there with you. Maybe you have to bring your small children or come alone. It is hard. Maybe your children have left the church and your life companion will not attend with you. It is tough. Or you are the wife and your husband chooses not to be the spiritual leader of your home. So it is left to you to lead out in prayer. You are the only one who studies the Bible.

Are you alone? God is there to sustain you! If you can sense that He is there with you, you will be stronger. How our prayer life would change if we realized that we are actually in the very presence of God Himself. Pray as if Christ were standing right in front of you. Why? Because He is!

4) MAYBE YOU ARE WIDOWED AND HAVE TO LIVE ALONE. A large percent of those are women. Men are strong, but not for long. Many of our members face very unique situations that they never dreamed would happen to them. Suddenly their husband or wife comes down with some disease and they're gone. They must assume total responsibility for their living. After the funeral fewer and fewer people come over to visit. They are alone. Their family lives hours away. It is heart-breaking. They may feel like David when he said in Psalm 102:7, I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof. He felt alone, didn't he.

If your situation can't be changed, God will help you to find that loneliness is not some evil sent to rob you of the joys of life. Alone time can increase your capacity for Him and sharpen your understanding. We call it solitude. Solitude is the positive portion of aloneness.

I've spoken with many who have to care for their life companion who suffers with Alzheimer's disease. You are not alone and yet your aloneness is perhaps worse than all others. Can this tear us from God? Remember his promise in Romans 8:35, 39. Nothing can separate us from God's wonderful love.

The fear of being alone is called: Mono-phobia.

5) THE MONEY RUNS OUT. When there is no job,...no adequate pay check coming in...a person alone can begin to feel very much afraid. Will I have to go to the poor farm? Nobody cares. I can't buy a job. I can't pay my bills. Perhaps I will have to be evicted and live in the street. If you are in a situation similar to this, let me urge you to realize that God is there with you. He who sent ravens to feed Elijah in I Kings 17 will not leave you alone to die from starvation.

In I Kings 19, Elijah was discouraged and ran out as far as he could go and nobody knew where he was. But God knew. And God cared for him. Elijah sat under a juniper tree and asked to die. He had run away. No one knew of his whereabouts. But God knew and God sent an angel with food. God will not let you come to nothing if you are willing to follow His leading and you do your part not being lazy, He will provide.

6) WHAT IF YOU ARE DIVORCED AND YOU ARE SUDDENLY SINGLE. And it wasn't your fault. Divorce can lead you to feel hurt, angry, worthless, rejected and alone. But God is with those who have suffered through the death of divorce. Look at Ecclesiastes 4:9-11. Two are better than one, because they have a good return on their work: if one falls down his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help lift him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?

If you are single you may feel very alone but God will not leave you, and He will not leave you as an orphan. In the McDonald Road church there is a membership of around 930. We mail our Mcdonald Road Manna to about 600 addresses. That sort of indicates that a lot of people are living alone. It has to be. Of course there are many family members that share the same Manna, but it still shows that there are many people in our congregation who are living alone. This is a major problem. Look at Psalm 91. Here is a statement of strength even if you are living alone. Psalm 91:1. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Do you live alone? You are not alone. Make sure you sense the gracious presence of Christ, the living, abiding Saviour. He is the source of Spiritual power within us. If you are single and lonely, seek to work for others. As you help someone else your problems will fade.

7) PERHAPS YOU ARE IN THE HOSPITAL. Have you ever had surgery and your family member has gone home and you had to spend the night there by yourself facing surgery the next day? It's tough. It's hard. A serious disease can change your whole life. Those who come down with a life threatening disease that has invaded their body and is even now growing within them, face feelings of hopelessness and despair. They can feel very alone. Try to fix your eyes on Jesus the Master Healer. If you must go to the operating room, the hands of the Master will guide the hands of your surgeon. You must give yourself totally to Jesus. Surrender all to Him. Be submissive to His divine will.

Maybe you are alone in some nursing home. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said: "The greatest disease today is not leprosy or cancer. It's the feeling of being uncared for and unwanted, being deserted and alone." Loneliness is the first thing that God named that was not good. Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone." If you are not alone, then what should you do? Go visit those shut-ins that are alone. We've got a bunch of people that are in the nursing homes; go see those people. Yet many of us are alone. A. W. Tozer said: "Most of the world's great souls have been lonely." Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Lincoln ... were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would work. Carl Sandburg. They overcame their separateness. They left the prison of their aloneness and excelled. Learn to use your alone time for the advantage of others.

I remember sitting on a large rock on the sandy beach at the Atlantic Ocean. It was early morning and I was alone. That aloneness seemed almost inspiring. I used that time to think of God and to pray. Almost every morning I walk alone in the woods. I use the alone time to grow toward God. Often times I walk alone in the morning. Nobody walks with me. Really I don't walk alone. I'm praying with God. I'm fellow-shipping with Jesus.

Everybody sitting here today faces or will face some type of isolation, and perhaps some desolation. We have listed many that are associated with loneliness. I urge you to take your eyes off your problems for just a moment and look fully upon Jesus. "If we gaze even a moment upon the sun in its meridian glory, when we turn away our eyes, the image of the sun will appear in everything upon which we look. Thus it is when we behold Jesus.... His image is imprinted upon the eye of the soul! Then when you look at your problems, the vision of Christ will be superimposed over the threatening problem and you will be uplifted.1

God offers to be with us every day, everywhere, whatever happens. He is our forever companion and friend. To know that and to feel His presence is true security. It will far outlast the security offered by the world. To know that no matter what happens to us we are in the big warm loving arms of our wonderful God, is peace! Deuteronomy 33:27. This is the greatest insurance...The ASSURANCE that God is with us always.

A new family moved in to a new town. A church was just a block away. Their little girl said: "Boy, we sure are lucky to live in the same neighborhood as God." Actually, you live in God's neighborhood because God liv es in your neighborhood. No Christian is far from God. Romans 14:7 says, For none of lives to himself. If you can sense the presence of God in your life, how blessed you will be. We have an unseen companion who is continually with us. We are never alone! "Our spiritual exercises are in accordance with the vividness of our sense of this companionship."2 If you can sense this, you will be changed. Matthew 14:23. (Jesus) went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,. Jesus was alone but did not feel alone because He could sense the companionship of His loving Father. John 8:16. ... I am not alone. I stand with the Father, Who sent me. Jesus never felt alone. We must develop the 6th sense...the sense of the holy, the sense of God's presence. Look to Jesus and the problems of this life will grow strangely dim.

He is your friend.

As Moody used to say: "You can travel to heaven first class or second class! -- 2nd class is: What time I am afraid I will trust. --First Class is: I will trust and not be afraid at all! God is with me the whole trip!

Psalm 139:7-10: Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me... There is not a place in any corner of the world that we can go but what God's presence is there with us. Praise God, we are never alone if you have Christ in your heart.


Endnotes:

1. Matthew 28:20.

2. Testimonies to Ministers, by EG White, pp. 388- 389.


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