You and I are surrounded by lonely people. The person living anonymously in a crowded city. The foreigner. The rich and miserly. The divorcee and single parent. The business executive and the unemployed and even pastors. The young and the elderly. No one is immune from loneliness. Even godly men and women sometimes experience loneliness in their pilgrimage through this world. You can live in the same house with someone, especially someone you love, and if you feel that love is not being returned, that you are unwanted and unappreciated, you will feel lonely. The pandemic has intensified these emotions, to the point that Loneliness is the new epidemic.
So, what happened? Despite all the ways we can connect – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, You Tube, Pinterest, and Google Plus – we’re lonelier than ever before. Because we all need face-to-face interactions and our physical presence with each other can say “you are not alone.” Indeed, it is the wellspring of meaningful, loving, and connected lives.
Elijah the prophet took 4 wrong steps that pulled him down, through loneliness into depression and despair. First, he exhausted himself physically. Second, he became upset emotionally. Third, he failed to turn to God spiritually. Fourth, he isolated himself socially. Loneliness becomes a vicious cycle for many. Exhaustion opens the door of discouragement. Leading to emotional upset causing you to isolate yourself, even from God. The isolation leads to depression which makes you feel tired and exhausted all the time, and you are trapped in the cycle. Because of this cycle many believers have stopped fellowshipping at church and continue living in isolation, beating themselves up emotionally and feeling too ashamed of themselves to face anyone even God.
I once had to move with my young daughters to a new city, I worked myself to exhaustion with the shift, packing and unpacking, getting the girls settled into a new place. Starting them at a new school, finding out where everything was situated, even having to find a new doctor etc. With all the stress and new adjustments, having exhausted myself, I got sick, as a nasty virus hit my system like a freight train, isolating me, with no one to look after me but my young daughters.
I broke the cycle. Finally I turned to God and asked Him to supply a friend.
The very next day, I was walking into the Doctor's surgery for an appointment, when I saw a face I recognised walking towards me on her way out the door. An ex-work mate, someone who was a close friend in my late teens that I hadn’t seen or heard from in years because she had moved away. It was an answer to prayer and I indeed praised God.
The pandemic left all of us feeling exhausted. We all had isolation imposed upon us. It was necessary, it was not easy. Some may have gotten stuck in the cycle of loneliness. Our New Testament Reading is about “a prayer to be reckoned with”. Break the cycle, PRAY - then combat exhaustion and rest, because today is “The day of Rest.” So REST in the LORD today and tomorrow combat social isolation, make the effort. Call someone and talk to them, Go say Hello to a neighbour or better yet, Go to Church. Others there need you as much as you need them!