Moving From Loneliness To Gratitude

This post was taken from a sermon preached in 2019 on Psalm 23

You prepare a table before me

   in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

    my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5

A recent statistic said that loneliness in life can potentially increase dementia by 40% in a certain segment of the population. So in other words, if you are lonely (not because you chose to just be a hermit or on your own but because of circumstances or difficulties) it could have measurable effects on your life. The feeling of not belonging and the feeling of not being loved can damage us. God has made us to have communion with Him and with our fellow image bearers.

Newsflash – there is no way our fellow man can completely fulfill that need in our life. So God says to us in our text, “You prepare a table before me” (Psalm 23:5 ESV). God says, there’s a place; man, I wish we could preach on this for hours! I know you wouldn’t listen to it for hours. It’s so good though. God says that there is a place for you at His table. What a welcoming thought for those of us looking to come out from the lonely cold.

The weather just changed here in Southwest Virginia for the first time this year, and the coldness reminds me of loneliness. The coldness will cut right through you and so will loneliness. The coldness is sometimes unbearable and so is loneliness. This morning, I was taking our dog (Gunny) out for a few moments to do what he does in the backyard. I walked out the back door completely unprepared for the arctic blast of cold air (it really wasn’t that cold, but I wimped out). I was not prepared for the cold, and I did not adapt well. There is nothing like coming back into the warmth of your home and warming up by that beacon of hope for your frozen hands and your frozen face around the fireplace. I think of this when God says to you and me that He has a prepared table before us. He is calling us in from the cold. He is calling us into the warmth of fellowship.

You could be lonely because of a personal enemy like we find in verse 5. On the other hand, you could be lonely for a tangled web of reasons. I think it is important to find root causes, but sometimes you can get lost trying to sort everything out. Many times we get so consumed with overthinking that we never get to the cure. The cure is Jesus Christ! He is the cure for lonely hearts. Go to Him to find out how you drifted to begin with. He is the way back home. He is the way back to the Lord’s table of fellowship.

We used to have these cups at our family dinner table. We don’t have them anymore. I think my mom bought them. They were cups with each family members name on them and their favorite superhero painted on the side. When you sat down you had a place at the table and not only that, but a personalized superhero cup with your name on it! My wife would put those cups away on special occasions, so we wouldn’t look like a crazy family to our dinner guests. Nonetheless, in our everyday life and meals with the kids we had our special cups. It may seem silly, but there was a sense of familiarity and belonging. I think about that when God says he prepared a table for us. He is conveying a sense of belonging. You are not alone. You belong.

Moving from loneliness to gratitude. In closing, I love the thought of John Calvin on Psalm 23:5: “Let each of us stir up himself to gratitude to God for his benefits, and the more abundantly these have been bestowed upon us, our gratitude ought to be greater.”

  1. A table says fellowship. We are creatures created to fellowship with one another and especially God.
  2. A table says safety. God is saying there may not be safety anywhere else in your world, but there is safety in Him.
  3. A table says welcome. I am drawn to the warmth of God’s fellowship.

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