Loving the Lonely
Tuesday - July 14th Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: Romans 8:35-39
Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 6:19-24
Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the
love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Someone once said, "God places the lonely in families." It is another way of saying God made us for relationships. He made us for a vertical relationship with Him. That is why we are to love God with everything we have. Then we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. That reminds us that our horizontal relationships with other people are vital for both them and us. We need each other. Human beings need other human beings to thrive. In a world of uber connectivity, why is the plague of loneliness on the rise? Why did the British government call loneliness in their country a national emergency and epidemic?
Much has been said of how disconnected we are in this age of connection. Loneliness has reached epidemic proportions, and our society is filled with lonely people. Recently healthcare giant Cigna noticed the growing problem and developed a loneliness index, conducting a national online survey of 20,000 adults to explore the impact of loneliness in the U.S.
In its initial release in 2018, Cigna discovered that nearly half of Americans sometimes or always felt alone (46%) or left out (47%). It's 2020 release, shows a shocking increase in those numbers to 61% in just two years. The findings reveal that a majority of Americans "rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them," "that their relationships are not meaningful," and "that they are isolated from others."
Add to this toxic loneliness trend the isolation and shutdown over recent months because of COVID-19 and the trendline of more loneliness and deeper loneliness only spikes higher. In all the debates about masks, shutting down the economy, and how or if schools should open in the fall, the isolation, alienation, and loneliness people feel grows day-by-day.
As followers of Christ, we hold onto the precious promise the Apostle Paul shared in Romans 8:35-39. Nothing can ever separate us from our God and His love for us. When you know Jesus, you are never, ever alone. Maybe you identify with those expressions of loneliness discovered in the Cigna surveys. Take the time to read Romans 8:35-39 three of four times in the next day or two. Embrace the promise of God. Let it sink into your heart and mind.
All of us should take the extra step to be a personal reminder of God's love by reaching out to others. Check-in on your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family. Ask them how they are doing. Get permission to call, email, or text from time to time just to see how they are. Let them know you are available to chat when they need someone with whom they can talk.
Think particularly of those who are elderly, are at high risk of catching COVID-19, or have been uncomfortable going out much at all over the last few months. They can easily get overwhelmed with loneliness. Remind fellow believers of the beautiful bond we have with God and each other because of His love, as described in Romans chapter eight. If the person you reach out to does not know Jesus, be present. Share with them the peace and strength you find in God's love for you. Your willingness to be present (even if it can only be done by phone, email, or a text) can powerfully demonstrate God's love to them.
By the way, "the someone" who once said, "God places the lonely in families," was King David. He wrote those words in Psalm 68:6. David knew loneliness and its pain personally. He had run from King Saul and had hidden alone in a cave for months. David remained on the run for six or seven years with a group of discouraged, distressed, and in debt people. Even though there was a crowd of hundreds that joined him in exile, he was alone in the crowd. He understood that God wired us for family, community, connection.
Let's love others by making them a part of our broader family or community. Let's love the lonely!