When We Are Lonely

 Hebrews 13:1-5

God created humanity for companionship with Himself and each other. He doesn't want people to suffer the emotional turmoil of loneliness. That’s why His Word contains pledges of His constant presence as well as instructions to prevent loneliness among church members.
Photo by: Shane Tarpley | Laguna Beach Retreat w/ Cov Life Students
The Lord stressed His unceasing presence because He knows our need for assurance, especially when we feel deserted or isolated. His vow never to forsake believers is found throughout the Bible: This comforting word was spoken to Joshua, the Israelites, and the disciples who were about to witness Jesus’ ascension (Joshua 1:5; Matthew 28:20). Some biblical saints picked up the theme in their writing as well. David often sought God’s solace (Psalms 25:16). And the apostle Paul preached that nothing compared with drawing close to Christ (Philippians 3:8). God wants every believer to trust implicitly that He is near.

The church is designed to meet our need for person-to-person connection. A spiritual body works much like a human body—parts are both independent and interdependent, each needing others in order to function well. We require support from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Knowing this, Paul admonished people to accept one another (Romans 15:7), bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and avoid judging (Romans 14:13).
Loneliness can cripple a person emotionally and spiritually. Human beings are not designed to walk through this world alone. We are made for relationship, which God gladly supplies. Lest we forget that the Lord is near, He gave the Bible this consistent theme: I love you and I am with you always.


Weathering the Storms of Life

The disciples experienced several “mountaintop moments” in their time with Jesus. But when a storm arose while they were out on the Sea of Galilee, fear took over. Amidst the roaring waves and with the boat rocking, Jesus’ chosen ones failed to recall the lessons they had learned about the power and purposes of their leader. Even the appearance of Christ walking on water didn’t bring immediate relief (Matt. 14:26).
In our own strength, we lack sufficient resources and abilities to meet life's challenges. So God provides what we need.
When trouble strikes, we sometimes forget our knowledge of God, too. We struggle to recall past answers to prayer, specific guidance provided by the Holy Spirit, and lessons learned in previous crises. Only the present seems real. Our minds spin with future implications, and our troubled emotions inhibit clear thinking.
In our own strength, we lack sufficient resources and abilities to meet life's challenges. So God provides what we need. Our suffering is never a surprise to the Lord. He knows everything we are going through. More than that, He’s orchestrating our circumstances for His glory and our benefit, according to His good will.
Reflecting on the divine purpose in hardship can help us respond to trials in a God-honoring way. Let’s take a moment to fix our attention on the Lord and seek to understand four lessons He wants us to learn through life’s dark moments:
Photo by: Shane Tarpley | Victory Bapt Church in Mahattan Beach CA
1. One purpose for hardship is cleansing. Because of our own "flesh" nature and the self-absorbed world we live in, it's easy to develop selfish attitudes, mixed-up priorities, and ungodly habits. The pressures that bear down on us from stormy situations are meant to bring these impurities to our attention and direct us to a place of repentance. Our trials are intended to purify and guide us back to godliness, not ruin our lives.
2. A second reason we face difficulty is so we'll be compassionate and bring comfort to others. God's work in our lives is not intended solely for us. It's designed to reach a world that does not recognize or acknowledge Him. The Lord uses our challenges to equip us for serving others. As we experience suffering, we will learn about God's sufficiency, His comforting presence, and His strength to help us endure. Our testimony during times of difficulty will be authentic. Those to whom we minister will recognize we know and understand their pain. What credibility would we have with people in crisis if we never experienced a deep need?
He's orchestrating our circumstances for His glory and our benefit, according to His good will.
3. Third, God promises us He'll provide a path through any trial we face. The disciples probably wondered how long the storm would last and whether they would make it safely to shore. Most likely, they wished it never happened. But, had they somehow avoided this storm, they would have missed the demonstration of Jesus' power over the sea and wind. The frightening situation was transformed into a revelation of the Savior's divine nature. God wants to make His power known through our trials, as well.
4. The most important thing He gives us is anawareness of His presence. At first, the disciples believed they were alone in a terrifying storm. When they initially spotted Jesus, their fear increased. They thought He was a ghost. But as they recognized Him, their fear changed to relief and hope. Similarly, we may not sense God's presence during a crisis. But He has promised to always be with us (Heb. 13:5-6). The assurance that the Lord will never leave provides immediate comfort, an infusion of courage, and a sense of confidence to endure.
No one enjoys suffering. But in the hands of almighty God, trials become tools. He uses hardship to shape believers into the people He intends them to be. Jesus allowed the disciples to experience the fear and anxiety of being in a boat on a raging sea. He permitted them to suffer because He had something far more important to teach them. He wanted the disciples to recognize their own helplessness, His sufficiency, and their dependence on Him.
Ask God to reveal His abiding presence in the midst of your trouble. And remember—He always provides for your spiritual needs to help you both endure and grow stronger in your Christian faith.


The Believer's Passion

2 Timothy 1:1-11

A fire will not continue to burn strongly unless it’s stoked. Similarly, a believer’s fervor, if left untended, can diminish.

New Christians often share their faith passionately and sense God’s joy and peace. Yet this zeal can fade unintentionally. From today’s passage, we gather that Timothy had let his flame of faith cool slightly (vv. 6-7).

Believers can experience “cooling” for several reasons. When tragedy strikes, a person may feel that his prayers went unanswered and that God doesn’t care. If he then prays less, it’s easy to drift away from the Lord. At other times, Christians can be sidetracked by the world’s priorities—Timothy’s enthusiasm wavered because of false teaching and fear. Whatever the apparent trigger may be, Satan is the underlying cause; he lures believers away from single-minded devotion to Jesus.

Drifting can be subtle and hard to detect. Six questions can help you assess whether your enthusiasm for God remains strong:

1. Do you have joy in the Lord and a desire to serve Him, share the gospel, and help others in need?

2. Do you spend time in the Word daily?

3. Do you pray, knowing that God is listening and working in your life?

4. Do you faithfully attend church and tithe?

5. Do you experience joy, peace, contentment, and hope in Jesus?

6. Do you stand firm in your godly convictions?

If some of your answers recently changed from “yes” to “no,” your fire may be diminishing. Acknowledge this to the Lord. Ask for His help to fuel your passion.

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