DEALING WITH DIFFICULTIES -
LONELINESS & FAMILY HASSLES
We’re going to talk about some delicate subjects in this topic of ‘Growing Older Gracefully’. Everybody gets old - unless they die when they’re younger. I really believe that, as we get older, God still wants to use us, He wants to help us, He wants to guide us, and HE’S NOT DONE WITH US, if we’re still breathing.
Unfortunately, lots of older Christians just kinda’ feel like life is just pretty much over and they fall into the trap of the enemy by getting sad, grumpy, bored, lonely, argumentative, very self-centered, and on and on and on. We have to see ourselves the way the Lord sees us.
About 3 weeks ago, we talked about all the wonderful blessings that God has placed in our new born again spirit and how to access them. Then, the next week we talked about the Holy Spirit and how to really understand and to use, accept, and receive the benefits of this wonderful blessing - ESPECIALLY AS WE GROW OLDER.
Then last week, the church was getting painted - so we didn’t meet.
Now today, we’re going to begin talking about some of the things that we all have to deal with and how to deal with them God’s way. We may be in this realm for awhile.
First - let’s talk about this subject of loneliness. Now, it’s different for all of us because WE’RE ALL UNIQUE! You’ve probably heard me say this before but, it’s very important to understand that our individual lives have all been different - our upbringing, our parent’s attitudes, our own personalities, our experiences. There isn’t a “One Size Fits All” that just works for everybody - because none of us are alike. BUT - God has ways to deal with us individually because He knows us inside and out. Now the biggest problem we have is that we don’t really know how to access His help in this area.
Now - in this room, we are all in different places in our lives. Some of us are widows and widowers - some of us are divorced - some of us may have lost children, parents, sisters, brothers, close friends and on and on. There are many different things which can cause us to have to deal with loneliness. One that is very common is not being able to go places and do things like you used to because of physical problems, driving problems, our kids worrying about us – thus, we begin to feel lonely – like we’re just alone way too much. So, it’s not just about the loss but it’s about our own personal background (family, etc.) which affects our feelings of loss, or just loneliness. Everybody’s lives are different. In my life, my husband and I were very close - we did everything together. We were in pastoral ministry together, we did team teaching, we were best friends. I could talk to him about anything and he talked to me about anything. When he moved to heaven in 1999, I felt like a huge part of my life was over. You talk about lonely!! I am serious - he was my ‘go-to’ person for 40 years. I TRULY FELT ALONE!!! So I know all about loneliness. It took me awhile to deal with the fact that he really was gone, and my whole life had changed. There were so many things I had to deal with - like, where was I going to live - what was I going to do - how was I going to deal with this loss - I was so used to US DOING LIFE TOGETHER. There was a period of time in there that I was mad at him for not getting his healing - because he had prayed for so many others and they had been healed.
Yes - I allowed myself to grieve and mourn over my loss. But - there is a time when you must pull yourself out of that grief and realize - “Hey - I’m still alive and I can live the rest of MY life here without just being a griever!
Now - perhaps your loneliness isn’t from the death of someone but because of divorce. Maybe you have had to deal with feeling like a loser - or like you did everything wrong - or that you made bad choices in a mate - or unforgiveness toward the person who treated you badly and ruined your life - or dozens of other things.
LONELINESS IS LONELINESS! Feeling like nobody really understands what you’ve been through - or feeling like there just isn’t anybody to really talk to.
Or maybe none of those are what is causing loneliness in your life. Maybe, as you’re getting older, you just don’t feel like you fit in with people, groups, lunch get-togethers, going to a movie with someone, and a zillion other things. You just wish you had someone you could really trust and talk to. But it’s scary to even try.
Now - this is what began to bring me out of my loneliness. One day, when I was reading in my Amplified Bible, I came across this verse - Hebrews 13:5 - “Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money (including greed, avarice lust, and craving for earthly possessions) and be satisfied with YOUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES and with what you have; for He (God) Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up or leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down or relax My hold on you!! Assuredly not!”
Man - I read that verse over and over and over. I sat for a very long time and pondered on that verse. I felt like God had put that verse in there, and led me to it, to personally speak to me. I truly felt like He was personally telling me that I WASN’T ALONE - THAT HE WAS WITH ME AND WOULD NEVER LEAVE ME. I DIDN’T HAVE TO EVEN FEEL ALONE!
I began to say that verse over and over to myself. I began to talk to God with a whole new attitude - in other words, instead of pleading and feeling sorry for myself - I began to just thank Him and thank Him in all kinds of ways, for always being there for me - no matter what. You know what? I BEGAN TO BELIEVE IT IN MY HEART. I WASN’T ALONE ANYMORE. HE HAD ALWAYS BEEN THERE FOR ME - BUT I HAD TO REALLY BELIEVE IT. NOW I DIDN’T FEEL ALONE. It changed everything for me - and it will do the same thing for you!!! Now, this wasn’t new to me - I had read this before - I was familiar with it - BUT IT BECAME PERSONAL FOR ME THAT DAY. I WAS COMPLETELY CONVINCED THAT HE AND I WERE BEST FRIENDS! NOW THAT MIGHT SEEM ODD - BUT IT BECAME REALITY FOR ME.
Now, also concerning loneliness, the Lord has shown me something else. Now – get this – it’s very important! Instead of asking God to send someone to you to be a friend, there’s a different way to see it and to pray. God has His ways of doing things in all kinds of realms on this earth. So – in many different areas of life, throughout the New Testament, we are told (when we need something) TO GIVE AND IT WILL BE GIVEN UNTO US. That’s from Luke 6:38. Now, related to loneliness, I believe the Lord wants us to deal with the self-centeredness that seems to be motivating us – and, instead, pray and ask the Lord to lead you to someone that needs a friend, and you will befriend that person. GIVE AND IT WILL BE GIVEN UNTO YOU. Instead of moaning and groaning about your loneliness, be ready to be used by God to be a friend to someone else. God will not only use you, but He will bring people across your path to be close to you. I never cease to be amazed at the various ways in which God brings people together. I’ve seen it hundreds of times – through unselfish prayer to be willing to help others, God brings people together in ways that absolutely could not be just coincidental, or circumstance – it is awesome, the way He does things! He’ll do it for you!
NOW - right here, about HIM BEING YOUR BEST FRIEND AND YOUR GO-TO PERSON - I’m going to talk about another difficulty that can be closely related to this one we’ve been talking about.
This one is Family Hassles, Disagreements, Losing Your Freedom (or Independence) - because often, when we’re feeling kinda’ alone, and our bodies are not like they used to be, we need help sometimes and we feel like we don’t have our personal choices like we used to. Often, it’s our kids, or other family members that we feel like are running our lives instead of us, which kinda’ adds to that ‘loneliness’ problem.
Sometimes our close family members are the biggest problems in our lives. We love them – but, as we get older sometimes we feel like they want to tell us what to do, how to do it, what we should do – like they are trying to run our lives for us. Also, along with that, because of our love for them, we don’t feel like we can talk to anyone about it. So – we just wallow in that FEELING OF “THERE’S A PROBLEM EVERY TIME WE TALK,” or “I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW TO TALK TO THEM ANYMORE.”
Then – another problem in this realm is that some of our children and/or grandchildren, or our nieces and nephews, or other family members are living a life totally isolated from God and we don’t really know how to talk to them. In some ways, that kinda’ adds to the ‘loneliness” issue.
Well – when we develop such an intimate relationship with the Lord, to the point that we begin to truly understand what He’s really like, how He thinks, how He relates to people who are not seeing life through His way of thinking, and MAINLY – HOW HE FORGIVES EVERYBODY WHO WILL YIELD THE RIGHT OF WAY TO HIM AND TREATS THEM AS THOUGH THEY HAVE NEVER SINNED!!!!!
I read two verses last week that I have read hundreds of times before but it never had the impact on me the way it did last week. I sat and thought and thought and thought about what these verses were really saying. Remember, the WORD OF GOD IS TRUTH. Remember that verse that says that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God’s Word became flesh – and the flesh man’s name was Jesus! His Word is truth, power, enlightenment, saving, guiding, and light! Well, ‘light’ is what these two verses were to me as I thought about them. It’s Eph. 5:1-2. KJV – “Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
Now – this is what I began to think about. He is God, my Father. My Heavenly Father! Now I had an earthly father, who is with the Lord now, but he was a wonderful, loving, helpful, kind, and guiding DADDY (FATHER). I learned from him as a little girl, and then young girl, teen-ager, young adult. In other words, I FOLLOWED my earthly father – and this verse was saying that, in the same way I followed my earthly father, I was to follow my Heavenly Father.
Now, it was very enlightening to me because of this. Just the week before, I had been talking to one of my lady friends on the phone one day last week and I had been telling her this story from my childhood.
When I was 11 years old, there was a gathering going on at my school one evening and all the parents were invited. There was going to be food, and special things going on. My parents couldn’t go because my mother was pregnant with my baby brother and about ready to deliver. So, they asked the people across the street, who had a son, younger than me, but going to the same school, if I I could ride with them. They said yes. So I did. While we were there, I was with one of my little girfriends and her mom was helping with some stuff. She had to stay and help out after most of the people had left. My friend asked her mom if they could bring me home on their way home – so I could stay longer there with them. She said yes – so I agreed. So – my neighbors went ahead and left and I stayed. When my friend’s mom dropped me off, I knew I was probably going to get in trouble because I hadn’t come with my neighbors. As I went up the steps of our terrace, to our front porch and then up to the front door, I thought, “I’m just going to go inside, and head to the bathroom to wash my hands and my face.” As I got to the door, Daddy was there. I just went in and said, “Hi!” and headed to the bathroom. Daddy followed me closely. He followed me in (WHICH WAS NOT NORMAL) and as I started washing, he put the lid down on the toilet seat and sat down watching me. Oh Boy – I was in trouble! Then – I heard Daddy’s voice, in a very quiet, and loving way, “Honey, Don’t You Know That Daddy Loves You?” I thought I was going to faint. I said, in a trembling voice, “Yes.” Then he said, “Then why would you do something different than what you were supposed to do?” By this time, I was crying, and I threw my arms around his neck, saying, “I’m sorry Daddy!” Then he went on talking, “Honey, Daddy didn’t have a way to contact you. You didn’t come home with our neighbors, as you were supposed to – so Daddy had no way of helping you if you were in trouble, or if there was a problem. Daddy doesn’t give you rules to make life hard for you – Daddy gives you rules so that I can be there for you if you need me.”
By this time, I could see the light!!! I began to understand. I apologized over and over. We hugged and I GOT IT! I had many, many ways through the years that I learned that I had a GOOD, GOOD DADDY. HE GAVE ME WAYS TO DO THINGS BECAUSE THEY WERE BEST FOR ME.
And, you know what that did? It made me want to be a follower of my earthly Daddy. I learned how he did things, why he did things, how he treated us in our family. I never heard my father and mother have an argument. They loved one another dearly. Every morning of my childhood and the years before I was married, I saw my mother fixing my father’s breakfast in the kitchen. I saw my father, after finishing getting ready for work, leaving the bedroom, coming through the dining room and into the kitchen – coming up behind my mother, putting his arms around her, and kissing her on the cheek. EVERY MORNING! That was the kind of marriage I wanted. That’s the kind I got!!!!
What the Lord showed me is that I became a follower of my EARTHLY FATHER (and mother too, by the way) and the Lord told us to be followers of our HEAVENLY FATHER – IN OTHER WORDS, TO DO THINGS THE WAY HE DOES – LOVE LIKE HE DOES – FORGIVE LIKE HE DOES – SEE PEOPLE LIKE HE DOES.
So – down to the nitty gritty – the only way we can really do life as God wants us to do life, is to take in His Word to the point that we learn how He wants us to do life here on this earth. We can’t do it just from our human, emotional personality. We have to do it with His power and strength.
For instance – when it comes to family difficulties, all of us have had family members say and do things that have hurt us deeply. WE MUST FORGIVE. Listen to this verse. It’s Colossians 3:13 – “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Now think about what Jesus, the SON OF GOD went through – taking all the sin of humanity and suffering in our place for our sin. IF HE DID THAT FOR US, WE CAN ACCESS THAT POWER IN OUR BORN AGAIN SPIRIT – BY FAITH – AND FORGIVE EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN SAID OR DONE TO HURT US!!!
Now, through the years, I have known many, many Christians who have tried to do what the Word says to do by just, “making up your mind to do it and try to do it like you do everything else – cook, make a living – laundry – take care of kids – and on and on. JUST IN YOUR HUMAN STRENGTH – FROM YOUR SOUL! But – God has given HIS POWER, HIS STRENGTH, HIS LOVE, HIS PATIENCE, HIS COMFORT AND ON AND ON INTO YOUR BORN AGAIN SPIRIT AND YOU MUST BELIEVE IT AND RECEIVE IT.
Everything, from the moment of you being born again, works the same way as your new birth. You believe – you receive by acknowledging with your words. Then, you think on it and think on it and think on it – saying it until you really begin to think that way in your mind – which is in your soul. That’s what renewing your mind is! Then, it becomes so real to you that you begin to say things like this – “Thank you Father, that you have placed your agape love in me – I am so grateful that I can love and forgive this person in your power and see this person the way you do.” (Or something like that – whichever fits your situation.) I’m telling you, you will begin to FOLLOW IN YOUR FATHER’S WAY OF DOING THINGS. We are all unique so there are all kinds of ways that the Lord does things in our lives in this realm. I have certainly been aware of God working out miraculous things in relationships, family, friends, situations, problems – and on and on and on.
So – it kinda’ boils down to this! Our wonderful Heavenly Father, who is the Creator of the Universe, loved us so much that He gave the best He had (His Son – part of the Trinity – God in three persons) to suffer by taking all our sin and dying a physical death to pay a price that we couldn’t pay! He provided a way for us to believe and receive what He did and, in so doing, have a personal relationship with this Triune God. When we believe and receive this wonderful blessing, He causes our dead spirit (which happened in the Garden of Eden) to come alive – and in so doing, He put all these wonderful blessings in that spirit in us. Then, He received us into His family and calls us His heirs – His children. He spoke His Word (containing His will) into the earth through people who would listen to Him and believe Him – and He had them write it all down. It’s what we call the Bible – the Old Testament and the New Testament. It’s His will, His story, His truth, His promises, His blessings, and it shows us what He is like and how He loves us and what He has already provided for us. But He won’t override our will – We have to yield to Him, believe what He has said and done, and open the door for Him to do what He really desires to do for us in many, many ways.
ALL IT TAKES IS FOR US TO BELIEVE AND RECEIVE WHAT HE HAS DONE AND SAID – AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALL THAT HE HAS ALREADY DONE FOR US. WE MUST DESIRE TO BE LIKE OUR FATHER, THINK LIKE OUR FATHER, LOVE LIKE OUR FATHER, FORGIVE LIKE OUR FATHER – AND ON AND ON.
So – I want to bring this to a close by reading something to you. I am going to read the whole chapter of 1 Cor. 13 from the Message Bible. I printed it out because my Message Bible is so small in print – this is easier. I’m going to read slowly – and I want you to just concentrate on what it is saying, and take it into your heart.
READ 1 CORINTHIANS 13 FROM MESSAGE BIBLE
Brothers and Sisters – the only way we can do what this Scripture says is to become a follower of God! God has said it in His Word, so it is possible for us to do it. He has placed the ability to live our lives like He does because He has already placed that ability in our new spirits. WE MUST ACCESS IT. It’s not enough to just try real hard to do it – like you try real hard to do a good job when you’re cleaning something in your house – or when you fixing something – or when you’re picking out something to wear because you want to look good. That strength is in your soul and has always been there. God’s strength and love and everything else is in your spirit. You must believe it and receive it and you will find that it just becomes more easy and more just who you are – to walk in it.
That’s the way you overcome loneliness – and that’s the way you see and love those close to you and forgive when you are told what to do, how to do it, when to do it, what you can do and what you can’t do, any anything else that feels controlling and hard.
You will also find that loving them – seeing them through God’s eyes – will become normal for you after awhile. You’ll also find that miraculously things will begin to not be so argumentative, or harsh, or difficult.
GOD IS LOVE – AND WE ARE TO BE FOLLOWERS OF GOD!
Scriptures used for this lesson
Hebrews 13:5 (AMP)
1 Corinthians 13 (Message)