The AARP online magazine (“Lesson 10” at this linked webpage) gives us this story: “How deadly is the condition of loneliness?” During the first five months of the pandemic, nursing home lockdowns, intended to safeguard older and vulnerable adults with dementia, contributed to the deaths of an additional 13,200 people compared with previous years, according to a shocking Washington Post investigation published last September. “People with dementia are dying,’ the article notes, ‘not just from the virus but from the very strategy of isolation that’s supposed to protect them.’”
It continues, “Fifty-six percent of adults age 50-plus said they felt isolated in June 2020, double the number who felt lonely in 2018, a University of Michigan poll found. Rates of psychological distress rose for all adults as the pandemic deepened — increasing sixfold for young adults and quadrupling for those (aged) 30 to 54, according to a Johns Hopkins University survey published in JAMA in June.”
Is loneliness inevitable?
We’ve all experienced loneliness. But in a pandemic or at other difficult times – is it inevitable? Or is there some way we can be free of this problem that seems to take ahold of us? As we look at this earth and this large and marvelous universe, many of us believe it didn’t “just happen” but there was someone who is greatly powerful behind it. Many, though not all of us, believe that the nature of this “someone” — is that they are good. Many say, “God is love,” believing from their own experience that often things that happen to them seem to be guided by some unseen hand to turn out for good — when they could just as easily go disastrously wrong.
This God who is love, said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Rather than people feeling lonely, God wants to give us the sense that the most special person in the universe cares for us and is near us. He wants us to be close to him and his son, to be part of their family.
He revealed himself first to the Jews over several centuries, then to the non-Jews. The message is one that many of us are familiar with – that in his love he has forgiven us those things we’ve done that are wrong and that we know are wrong. Rather than punish us for those things, he’s accepted us back — if we come back to him, believing that he is our loving God, choosing to love him, and, very importantly, changing the way we treat him.
A love that goes beyond forgiveness
But the part a lot of us don’t know, is that he also has taken our crooked selves – our very selves – which keep doing the things we know are wrong — and he has destroyed them and remade them fresh and new, in his son, so that these new selves now can work the right way. Paul, one of this God’s followers, said, “I have been crucified with Christ (God’s son). It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me.” (Galatians 2:20) By our believing in this additional way that God loves us, it’s possible not only to be saved from the penalty of our wrongdoings, but also from the power to keep doing them.
God loves us so much that he forgave each one of us and he remade each one of us to live the right way. Knowing him each moment is his plan for us. It’s what can free us from loneliness.
How does this play out in our lives? Below is a 3 minute talk about that.