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The Holy Spirit Meets Us In Our Loneliness
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1-4 NIV).
We all love Christmas and Easter, but Pentecost is important too because it is the birthday of the bride of Christ, His Church. Most pastors will use the second chapter of Acts as the basis of their sermon during Pentecost. I love the imagery of the chapter as the Holy Spirit came upon the Israelites and gave them “tongues of fire.”
These tongues are with us today as we all go about in our efforts to fulfill the Great Commission. In my lifetime, one of the most successful and recognizable evangelists for the Great Commission was the late Rev. Billy Graham. I enjoy watching old YouTube videos of him preaching the Word at large revivals. Surely, the Spirit of our Lord was present in the tongue of Rev. Graham as well as the ears and hearts of the crowd. I am convinced of this.
The Spirit is not limited to those with the spiritual gift of teaching and preaching. You are a son or daughter of God and upon your baptism into the Church universal, the Spirit has not only entered you but also equipped you for your ministry. At the baptism of our Lord, the Father said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17). I think God said something similar, although perhaps not as easily discernable, at your baptism and mine.
I am concerned that many of us, myself included, have a poor understanding of the Spirit. Yes, we understand the Holy Trinity, and we understand that the Spirit is moving during a God-breathed sermon. We also know that the Spirit is our Advocate and provides intercessory prayers to the Father when all we can offer are “wordless groans” (Romans 8:26-27). It is because of the presence of the Spirit and our faith in the Spirit, that we can do far greater things than Jesus. John 14:12 reads, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Indeed, the same Spirit in Act 2 is with us today, but some people sadly refuse to accept this gift. Scripture teaches that, “The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you (John 14:17, emphasis added). A result of a Spirit-filled life is that the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) are manifested in our words and actions.
So, if the Holy Spirit is with us and in us then why are so people lonely when they are alone? It is no secret that humans are social creatures and are made for community. In the book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, University of Chicago social neuroscientist John T. Cacioppo writes about his research on the effects of loneliness – “a sense of isolation or social rejection which disrupts not only our thinking abilities and will power but also our immune systems and can be as damaging as obesity or smoking.”
It should be understood that the pain of loneliness is raw and real for anybody, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof. It is damaging and hurtful to downplay the emotions of a lonely person.
Let us circle back to the late Rev. Billy Graham. He said, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” Perhaps Rev. Graham was referring to John 16:8 in which our Lord promised to send the Holy Spirit. “When He comes, He will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.”
The Holy Spirit has convicted me that my job is to love. Jesus taught in Matthew 22: 36-40 that the Law and the Prophets hangs on our ability to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I think we have a unique opportunity to show our love for God in our loneliness. Do we chase companionship at the bottom of a whiskey bottle or do we accept the Truth of the Psalmist when he wrote, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Do we accept that if our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, then He lives within us? Do we accept the power of God, love of Jesus, and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, particularly in our loneliness, brokenness, and sin?
The truth is we can partner with the Spirit to have victory over loneliness because He is always with us – in the valley of the shadow of death, in hospitals and nursing homes, and most certainly in our loneliness.
Earlier, I mentioned my love for old-time sermons by Rev. Graham. I am sure he would agree that there has been no greater sermon preached than the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:4, Jesus addresses the lonely and broken-hearted and offers the greatest gift possible, His blessing. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” The Holy Spirit has convicted me of the truth and victory of this verse, and I pray the same for you.
Prayer: Dear God, We know that through Jesus you have experienced the human reality of isolation and rejection. Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to live within us and advocate for us. Thank you for the fellowship we have with the Body of Christ. Help us to embrace the fellowship of the Spirit, and to always remember that we are never alone. Amen.
Meet the Author
Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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