For many people, everyday life is a hectic race that pulls in various directions. We do our best to honor God through our work, church attendance, and all of our everyday responsibilities. However, it is easy to forget about those who are lonely and isolated. God gives believers spiritual gifts (Romans 12:6-8) and one in particular that I am drawn to is mercy.
As it has with so many others, the concern over the coronavirus pandemic hit close to home with my family. Events started out with my grandmother having surgery to have a pacemaker put in. Afterward, she remained weak and couldn’t walk, therefore she was sent to a rehabilitation facility to regain her strength. She went through the ordeal of not only being tested once but twice for COVID-19 over a period of time. Both of these tests turned out negative; however, she eventually was isolated for fourteen days because some patients tested positive for COVID-19.
One example where the separation and the isolation were really tough was when my parents visited the rehabilitation facility, they were only allowed to see my grandmother through a window. This rule went on for quite some time. After time had passed, two people were allowed to visit my grandmother on a porch. However, this was from a considerable distance, as a table was placed between family members and my grandmother. I am thankful to say that my grandmother is back home now.
Loneliness and isolation have a direct effect on our mental health and well-being. The love that God has for us is so amazing that we struggle to fathom it, but it’s true. God has a heart for the lonely. Psalm 25:16 says
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
Another Scripture that comes to mind is 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Often, holidays make loneliness even worse. The loss of a spouse through divorce or death is emotionally draining and can easily lead to isolation, and depression. Introverts may find themselves having a more difficult time making friends becoming more lonely. For various reasons, a person may have a broken relationship with their family, leading to loneliness and isolation.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people go about their business, and one of the primary groups that COVID-19 has impacted is our elderly population. The pandemic has caused them to be isolated and even shut-in, with many missing the fellowship of their friends at church.
Peter Rosenberger, president of Standing With Hope, and host of Hope For The Caregiver on American Family Radio, is one of the most preeminent authority figures on caregivers. Rosenberger reminds us that “We shore up the best we can while learning to make peace with ambiguity. We shake hands with uncertainty.” COVID-19 has prompted family members to consider how to check in on elderly parents. For instance, getting creative can go a long way in making sure that those who are isolated are not forgotten. If technology is an available option for your loved ones and friends, FaceTime is a great way to make your connection virtual. It may not be what you’re used to, but thinking outside the box can go a long way.
As human beings created by God, we are wired to want to have interaction with others, and not be constantly isolated. This is not to say, of course, that from time to time we don’t need to withdraw from the crowd and spend time alone with God, because obviously we do for spiritual growth and maturity. Just one of the many benefits of being a follower of Jesus Christ is when you are battling loneliness, and sometimes depression itself, you have the guarantee that the Lord is always with you. Hebrews 13:5 says
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.
God wants to have fellowship with you!
When it comes to loneliness and isolation those who have large families or a strong support group from church, have a built-in resource. But what can be done for those who are literally alone? This is where churches have an opportunity to reach out: perhaps through contacts using social media or simply asking members if they know anyone who needs support that isn’t getting any. The blessings are enormous when we put others before ourselves.
When thinking about loneliness, it is imperative that the isolated person knows that they are loved. We are all wired by God in that manner: to love, and to be loved. The toll that loneliness can take on a particular individual can be extremely concerning: both on emotional levels and physical levels. An individual needs to know that there is hope: and this starts with understanding that God has an immeasurable love for all of us! Helping people overcome loneliness and isolation has always been a challenge. Now, COVID-19 has made those efforts even tougher. The goal must be to let people know that God loves them and that we, as the body of Christ, love them as well! I sometimes have to remind myself to get away from social media for a time and think more about what I can do for others.
The bottom line in all of this is for the church to be the church. Let’s put distractions on the side, at least for a time, and think and pray about what can be done to help others in a time of need. Loneliness is tough as it is, and loneliness and isolation can have a devastating effect on a person’s health. Coming up with a game plan to help those in need can be so encouraging to those in need. Using resources that are available is important in making a difference in people’s lives. All of us will at some point in life be affected by loneliness. I know that my grandmother is grateful for the love that she receives. Let’s do our part, as the body of Christ, to reach out to hurting people, so they too, can experience and be in awe of God’s love and grace.