ďTHE GOD OF ALL COMFORTĒ
Second Corinthians 1.3
1. How many of you know a young person who always wants to go do something? Young people hate to just sit around and do nothing, unless they are terribly lazy, or unless they have given up hope that going to do something will solve the problem that ails them.
2. I went to Wherehouse the other day and bought an album. Itís the first non-classical music album I have ever bought. The title of the album is ďAmerican Idiot.Ē
3. I dare not play the entire song for you, but I want you to listen to some of the words of the song titled, ďBoulevard Of Broken Dreams.Ē Lyrics:
walk a lonely road
only one that I have ever known
know where it goes
itís home to me and I walk alone
walk this empty street
the boulevard of broken dreams
the city sleeps
Iím the only one and I walk alone
walk alone. I walk alone. I walk alone. I walk alone.
shadowís the only one that walks beside me
shallow heartís the only thing thatís beating
I wish someone out there will find me
then I walk alone
4. This song expresses the thoughts of some of you people. For whatever reason, you see yourself as someone who walks alone. You would like to have genuine companionship, something to banish the loneliness, but itís no good. The way I see it, if people your age had any idea how to solve your feelings of loneliness, isolation and abandonment songs like this wouldnít be so popular.
5. The issue that is lost on most people is that this terrible and tragic loneliness of the soul is not some abnormal problem that is unique only to you. This is not some problem that others your age have solved. No. No one has solved this problem. Youíre stuck with it just like everyone else is.
6. Let me explain four reasons why youíre stuck with this loneliness problem:
1A. First, BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS CAN DO YOU NO GOOD
Iím not speaking to you young people with Christian parents, parents who are real Christians. Iím speaking to you whose parents are not converted. Consider this about your parents:
1B. If your parents had any kind of solution for loneliness, donít you think they would have told you what it was? The reason why your parents have never told you how to deal with loneliness, desperate loneliness, is because they are plagued with the problem themselves. They donít have any answers.
2B. If your parents, or if parents in general, had any answers, would kids be in the mess they are in these days? I donít think so. The problem is so pervasive and so hopeless that your parents have probably never brought it up for discussion, even though itís a problem everyone faces.
3B. I spoke to a young woman a while back. When she was little her mom and dad broke up. Both parents eventually remarried. She has spent most of her life in a dream world, imagining that her real dad really loved her in a way her step dad did not love her, and feeling terribly lonely the whole time.
4B. As well, I know a young fellow whose parents have broken up. What a tragic sense of personal loss this guy is going through. It has terribly messed him up. Oh, how he wants his dad to love him, as if that will make life better for him. But a dad who loves is a dad who does not leave.
5B. You want to know what these two kids need to realize? The fact that their parents broke up makes my case that parents donít have any answers. And itís not just parents who divorce who donít have any answers (and I recognize that sometimes divorce is not the fault of both spouses).
6B. Moms and dads who stay married are no more likely to have any answers, either. Itís just that instead of hoping that by hooking up with someone else they wonít feel so lonely, they have pretty much given up their hopes of real comfort. By and large, married couples live lonely lives of quiet desperation, as they go their separate lonely ways, live their separate and lonely lives, and rendezvous in front of the television set for the Tonight Show, where they will sit next to someone but sit lonely still.
7B. Can these moms and dads help you, really help you? No. Kids, donít deny that you agree with me on this. Listen to these lyrics from another song, on the same CD, titled ďI Donít Care.Ē
donít care if you donít.
donít care if you donít.
donít care if you donít care.
Everyone is so full of _ _ it!
Born and raised by hypocrites.
8B. Two things about these songs: First, kids who listen to this stuff generally agree with it. You think your parents are hypocrites who donít care about you. Second, this means that other kids are profoundly lonely, and they donít think their parents have a clue about how to solve their problem.
9B. Why not? They donít care. This song is right. As a general rule, your parents donít care. There is sentiment, of course. And there is anguish. But do most parents give to their kids what they do not themselves have, comfort against the loneliness? No.
2A. Next, YOUR FRIENDS CANNOT COMFORT YOU
Notice that I said, ďYour friends cannot comfort you.Ē Some people trick themselves into thinking that activity with other people and attention from other people is the cure for loneliness. But itís not. The solution for loneliness is comfort. And even though many kids know that their parents are of little use to them in this regard, they think their friends can help them, for some reason. But your friends canít help you. They have the same problem you have.
1B. Let me illustrate from the Bible. Could Jobís friends comfort him?
1C. Remember, Job was being terribly afflicted by the devil for reasons he never understood. In Job 2.11, we read that his friends found out about his terrible affliction and ďmade an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.Ē But did they succeed?
2C. No. Though they were intelligent, articulate, presumably starting out as well-intentioned and longtime pals, they horribly failed in their attempts to comfort Job. He ended up calling them ďmiserable comforters.Ē
2B. So, what makes you think your friends could possibly do any better for you than Jobís friends did for him?
1C. Friends are nice to have, but where are they when you need them? Have you not enough experience to realize that friends are generally those who you can count on until you need help?
2C. Donít get me wrong. I am in favor of friends. I think you should both be a friend and have friends. But friends cannot comfort you and alleviate your loneliness. Not really.
3C. Girls are lonely, so they get a boy friend. Boys are lonely, so they hang out with their buddies. Men are lonely, so they do the tavern and the speed boat and the sports kind of thing. Women are lonely, so they occupy themselves in their ways to distract themselves from loneliness.
4C. If each of your friends has unresolved and terrible bouts of loneliness, how can your friends help you with your loneliness? Itís really quite simple. They canít.
3A. Third, YOU CANNOT COMFORT YOURSELF
1B. I do not say this to dismay you, to discourage you, to send you into a fit of despondency, but to show you the truth of the matter. I am a bit of an expert on this aspect of loneliness, being myself a terribly lonely guy for many years. And my own mother, who I miss terribly, was a tragically lonely woman.
2B. Some people hope to comfort themselves by being workaholics. They spend astonishing hours at the office or in the shop, trying to compensate for feelings of loneliness and isolation by covering it up with a compulsion to work, a drive to succeed, a fanaticism for perfection in some endeavor.
3B. Some gal is so lonely that she becomes promiscuous as a way of trying to make herself needed, or loved, or even liked. Another girl marries a guy in the hopes that throwing herself into a marriage will alleviate her loneliness. But does it help? No. So she throws herself into the lonely task of being a devoted mother, a conscientious house keeper, a totally dedicated mother to her children. And this is all a good thing. But what she is really doing is distracting herself from her profound loneliness, because the man she loves and dotes on does nothing for her loneliness. He canít.
4B. My mother was my first love. As I said, I miss her terribly. But I studied her for many years, and I know what made her tick. So terribly disappointed in marriage, and having no idea what to do about it, she became reclusive, isolating herself from most people and working very hard to convince herself that she preferred being alone.
5B. Not true. Itís just that she couldnít handle the disappointment of having her hopes raised by friendships and then dashed again. So, she worked hard at convincing herself that she preferred being alone. That is, she attempted to satisfy her own need for relief from her loneliness. But it didnít work. It never works. Itís a ruse, a trick of the mind, a self-deception.
6B. How do I know? Remember, I am an expert at loneliness, having been so very lonely for so many years. The prophet Jeremiah writes, in 8.18, ďWhen I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.Ē So you see, if Jeremiah was unable to comfort himself against sorrow, because his heart gave out on him, can you expect to do better?
7B. My young friends, it pains my heart to see you so lonely. I ache for you inside, because I know what it feels like to be as lonely as you are, to be as frustrated by unsuccessful attempts to make it better as you are. Nothing that your friends could do, and nothing that you can do, has any chance of making the matter better.
8B. You see, from our text this morning, Second Corinthians 1.3, we see that God is the God of all comfort. Turn there and letís read together. When you find the passage, stand along with me as we read Godís Word:
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
9B. Do you see your problem, my friend? God is the God of all comfort. There is no comfort for loneliness apart from God. But God only comforts us. And since you are not a Christian, there is no comfort from God for you.
4A. Which Brings Me To Our Final Point, IN YOUR SINS GOD WILL NOT COMFORT YOU
1B. Your parents cannot comfort you if they are not Christians, because they are not comforted themselves. Your friends cannot comfort you if they are not Christians, because they are not comforted themselves. And you certainly cannot comfort yourself if you are not a Christian.
2B. As a matter of fact, even if your parents or your friends were Christians, they still could not comfort you. This is because all comfort originates with God and His comfort is only for His Own. Since you are not His Own there is no comfort for you. Thus, while you are in your sins you are doomed to a lifetime, to an eternity, of loneliness.
3B. Consider this: When the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and bled and died on Calvaryís cross He was not comforted by the Father. When He became sin for me Who knew no sin, the Father forsook Him. On the cross the Son of God cried, ďMy God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?Ē Why did God forsake His Own Son? Habakkuk 1.13: ďThou art of purer eyes than to behold evil.Ē If God the Father did not comfort His Own Son in His great affliction because He was bearing my sins, why do you think God the Father will comfort you in your sins? If the Father forsook His Son for sins, He will surely forsake you for sins.
4B. But if you are Godís own, if you are a child of God, He will comfort you. Consider David as he walked toward the giant, Goliath, all alone but for a sling and five smooth stones. His king could not comfort him. His older brother could not comfort him. No one could comfort him but God. Yet we read in the 23rd Psalm:
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his nameís sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
5B. Did God comfort David? According to David, He did. Did the Lord Jesus Christ comfort His disciples? Yes, He did. Did He promise to always make sure they were comforted? Yes, He did. By one means or another, God makes sure that His Own, even when we are called upon to stand alone, are always comforted.
6B. The Lord Jesus Christ said, ďI will not leave you comfortless.Ē But what He said has no application to you, so long as you reject the gospel, so long as you remain in your sins, so long as you refuse Jesus Christ.
1. People turn this way and that in an effort to alleviate their loneliness. Oh, I know that sometimes other motives drive us, but with so many people loneliness is a key to understanding their behavior.
2. Why do they compromise themselves? Why will they do what they know is wrong? They are lonely. You are lonely. And you will try just about anything, do just about anything, so you wonít be lonely.
3. A lonely girl is easy prey for a boy. A lonely boy can be easy prey for a gang. A lonely geek can be easy prey for the temptation to be a workaholic. A lonely woman who has been unsuccessful in finding relief from loneliness can be a sucker for feminism.
4. Donít you see? Everything from the herd instinct displayed by gangs and teams and fraternities to cliquishness in other social circles has to do with feelings of loneliness. But none of those activities helps the lonely. If anything, they make the lonely even lonelier because they never deal with the root problem.
5. Even church attendance is only a temporary solution. A guy or a girl feels lonely and accepts an invitation to attend church or some church function. There are nice people at church, so the lonely person decides to attend . . . in the hopes that the loneliness will go away.
6. Now, granted, for a while the feelings of loneliness are diminished. There are new friends, new activities that donít make you feel so guilty, and new truths to think about. But the loneliness does not really go away. Why not? No comfort. You can hang around church all day long, but so long as you are in your sins the God Who refused to comfort His Son for sins will refuse to comfort you for sins.
7. So, though church attendance is right and proper and good, no one who is lonely finds comfort in church. What you find in church is the gospel of Jesus Christ being preached, Christians who will minister grace to you by the loving and truthful words they speak to you, and a challenge to seek salvation from your sins.
8. Do we have terribly lonely people attending church here, who find no comfort for their loneliness? Yes. But those are the unsaved who attend here who have not yet found comfort for their souls in Jesus Christ.