Choosing Joy When You Feel Alone

by

From the Series: Choosing Joy

We’re starting a new series today called Choosing Joy. It’s about choosing joy when the party is over. In other words, choosing joy when your problems can’t be fixed easily, when your circumstances are difficult. The series is based on the book of Philippians, which the apostle Paul wrote from a house imprisonment. That’s important to remember as we go forward.

People are lonelier than ever.

We try to solve loneliness in the wrong ways.

  • We try to solve loneliness through shallow relationships (think Facebook).
  • We try to solve loneliness through destructive relationships.

Friendship is only part of the answer.

  • Friendship is based on being near each other.
  • Friendship is based on being like each other.

Let’s look into the full answer in the book of Philippians…

Philippians 1:1-11 NRSV

[1] Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: [2] Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [3] I thank my God every time I remember you, [4] constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, [5] because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. [6] I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. [7] It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. [8] For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. [9] And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight [10] to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, [11] having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

The partnership Paul was talking about is called “fellowship,” and fellowship is the full answer. It’s koinonia.

DEFINING FELLOWSHIP

What is fellowship? Fellowship is an eternal bond between people who know Jesus together.

  • Fellowship is Christ-centered.
  • Fellowship is gospel-focused.
  • Fellowship is grace-based.

Fellowship goes beyond proximity. It’s something deep, abiding, and real, and every believer in Christ enjoys it to one degree or another.

How do I choose joy when loneliness is my unavoidable reality?

TWO PRACTICES FOR FINDING JOY IN LONELINESS

1. Practicing the presence of God.

Psalm 16:11 NRSV

You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

2. Practicing the art of fellowship.

Let’s look at how to do that…

FOUR WAYS TO BE INTENTIONAL IN OUR FELLOWSHIP

1. Remember people.

“Every time I think about you, I pray for you…”

Two angles:

  • Think about people so that you can pray for them by keeping a list.
  • Pray for people whenever you think about them.

2. Show affection for people.

3. Be present with people.

Loneliness can be self-induced. I recognize that some of us are more quiet and reserved than others, but regardless of our personality, we need to find ways to initiate and cultivate relationships.

The people I need in my life…

  • I need models (most of them are dead – I learn from them).
  • I need mentors who will speak into my life.
  • I need friends who can know me and whom I can know (the value of small groups).
  • I need people into whom I am investing.

4. Partner with people (to pursue more people).


 

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