Alone.

Matthew 27:49
The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

Imagine Jesus on the cross.  He had many people around him, yet he was alone.  He had been denied and betrayed by his closest companions.  Beaten, humiliated, and mocked as he gave up his life for the very mob who stood around jeering him, he cried out to his Father asking why He had forsaken Him.  That, to me, is the ultimate in being alone.

God never expected us to be alone.  After creating Adam, He created Eve because “It is not good for man to be alone,” Genesis 2:18.  God regularly visited Adam and Eve in the garden.
Merriam Webster defines alone as “separated from others.” Psychology Today described it as an “absence of connection, not the absence of people.”

Even before Covid, loneliness was epidemic.  The CDC lists health risks to chronic loneliness:
  • Premature death.
  • 50% percent increased risk of dementia.
  • 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
  • Higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
  • Nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.
God didn’t create us to be alone.

Our devices and social media don’t alleviate loneliness.  “One study found that the highest users of social media also reported the highest levels of perceived social isolation (Primack, Shensa, Sidani, Miller, 2017).”    Young people have a higher prevalence of loneliness than other age groups.”  Rent-a-Friend pays employees $50 an hour to be a rented friend for someone who doesn’t want to take a walk or dine alone.
 
Why do we suffer from collective loneliness?  I think it’s the loss of community.  Today 56% of us seldom or never attend a church.  22% attend weekly (Statista).   We don’t have neighborhood schools.   We don’t know our neighbors.   Families are scattered throughout a state, our country or even our world.  People don’t even talk to each other let alone to God.  Since God didn’t create us to be alone, there has to be a solution beyond paying someone to take a walk with us.
Before Jesus ascended, he instructed his disciples on the process of building a church.  Not a building, but a group of people who would worship, learn and build community together.  He promised that “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them,” Matthew 18:20.

I like this definition:  “The purpose of the church is to be the believer's spiritual family. It is through the church that God takes people with different personalities and gifts, unifies them as a single body, and equips them to care for each other and reach the world.” That faith and a faith community can alleviate loneliness is borne out by scientific studies.  In The Huffington Post, David Briggs wrote “Farewell my lonely, Science reveals how faith can help meet social needs.”  More than one study finds that faith and a faith community can ease our loneliness, whether we are refugees having left our community behind, older, widowed or divorced adults, struggling families, or young people.  Briggs also warns us that the faith community must reach out to newcomers so they don’t come in and leave alone.  With community comes responsibility.

God understands loneliness, and Jesus experienced it. He provided us with a solution:  A close and lasting relationship with God and a faith community.
- Bonnie Overcott
David penned a number of lament prayers. As as a spiritual practice we invite you to use his words to cry out in grief, sadness, and pain to the All Mighty LORD.
Praying Psalm 35
Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent.
    Do not be far from me, Lord.
Awake, and rise to my defense!
    Contend for me, my God and Lord.
Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God;
    do not let them gloat over me.
Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!”
Songs of lament. Music does connect to our souls.
This song "Precious Woman" explores with loneliness of a woman. "Who will wipe your tears away?" "You have been strong for others, yet you stand alone."
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2 Comments


Sheryll S. - March 28th, 2022 at 10:18pm

“…absence of connection, not the absence of people….” Thanks, Bonnie. May we all be sanctified connectors! And may we also remember we can cry out to the One Who made us when we are in places of acute aloneness.

Kristi Johnson - April 8th, 2022 at 9:38am

Amen.

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