Isolation: The New Epidemic
“Be brave and strong! Don’t be afraid of the nations on the other side of the Jordan. The Lord your God will always be at your side, and he will never abandon you.”
Deuteronomy 13:6 (CEV)
“Social isolation is a growing epidemic, one that’s increasingly recognized as having dire physical, mental and emotional consequences.”
— Damon Winter/The New York Times
A 2018 study by global health service company Cigna revealed that nearly half of Americans always or sometimes feel alone (46%) or left out (47%). Fully 54% said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them. And loneliness isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon – nearly one-third of Britons report feeling “lonely or very lonely,” while over 500,000 people under 40 in Japan haven’t left their house or interacted with anyone in six months or more.
Isolation and loneliness are common feelings many Christians face as well. We are often rejected by the world and feel the very real price of following Christ. Yet, if Jesus promises he is always with us (Matthew 28:20), how can we ever feel isolated or lone?
There are many reasons, but here are three I’ve personally experienced:
- Busyness: Our lives are increasingly filled from morning until night with things to do and places to go. While we are surrounded by people, we are not surrounded by intimacy and presence. Our calendars become our only form of connection.
- Social Media: Online channels offer wonderful ways to keep up with friends and family. However, they also serve to reinforce our lack of face-to-face contact as it becomes easier to passively observe someone else’s life than to actually get involved with them.
- Culture: Often the noise screaming at us from modern culture makes us feel even more isolated. Materialism, consumerism, fashion, celebrity — everyone seems to have more than we do, or better lives than we live. With this comes increasing distance from real relationship as we chase the empty promises of a broken world.
What’s missing here? In almost every case, the missing component is God Himself. Busyness, social media, culture – they all become easy substitutions for the only true form of intimacy: our relationship with our Creator.
When asked what the greatest of all commandments was, Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In other words, live your life in full intimacy with God and with those around you. In real time, with real brothers and sisters in Christ, sharing real love through the sacrifice of Christ.
Simply put, we should always place our focus on the One who is the ultimate solution to loneliness: ‘Immanuel’ — God with us. No matter how lonely or isolated we might feel, God Himself is with His people, bringing comfort and hope to our darkest nights with these assuring words:
Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
In a world growing ever more lonely, this is an amazing promise. And one that will be fulfilled when Jesus ushers in a world where loneliness will be no more.
How are you touching the hearts of someone else to help them overcome their feelings of isolation and loneliness?