Quick quiz: What life habit is as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day? This same lifestyle also causes a 29% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease, as well as a 32% increase in the likelihood of having a stroke. This lifestyle is even more unhealthy than obesity, physical inactivity, or air pollution.
Contrary to what you may think, the answer has nothing to do with people’s diet, how much they exercise, or if they have good medical care. The surprising answer comes from the federal government’s Health Resources & Services Administration: “As a force in shaping our health, medical care pales in comparison with the circumstances of the communities in which we live. Few aspects of community are more powerful than is the degree of connectedness and social support for individuals.” [See www.hrsa.gov/enews/past-issues/2019/january-17/loneliness-epidemic.] This government report is saying that loneliness, isolating yourself from others, is a dangerous way to live.
In other words, just being distant socially by itself can be a deadly epidemic. It is no surprise then that the recent worldwide, pandemic-induced lockdowns have made loneliness even more of a health issue.
Thankfully, a solution to feeling isolated is available, and we don’t have to wait for a vaccine!
The solution begins to unfold when we have a better understanding of the One who made us. Maybe you have never thought of God this way before, but God Himself is a social being. He created Adam and Eve and then spent time every day walking and talking with them. That, of course, was before sin entered the world. See Genesis 3:8-9.
God is also a three-part being who has always experienced perfect unity and fellowship between the three who make up the unity of Himself. For example, Jesus said that He has always experienced perfect love and harmony with the Father (John 17:23).
Here is another example. One Old Testament prophet, “… saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left” (1 Kings 22:19).
The God who created us with a need for close social interactions has also provided a two-pronged solution.
The solution to loneliness begins when we have an ongoing friendship with the One who made us. Think about this invitation from Jesus, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29).
We all came into this world unable to have a relationship with God because our sinful natures blocked any kind of meaningful contact with Him. See Ephesians 2:1 &5a. Then Jesus stepped in and “… made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5b). Because He so graciously paid for our sin, we must turn from it (repent) and trust His work of forgiveness. Then, we can “draw near to God and He will draw near to [us]….” (James 4:8). Even if we are isolated from friends and family, we can have a friend who “… sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
The Lord understands that we also need human companionship. That is why God has local gatherings of His followers too. Believers are commanded to meet together to encourage each other (Hebrews 10:25) and to sing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19-20). When we are spiritually healthy, isn’t it wonderful to know that we are also more likely to be physically healthy?
If there is anything we can do to encourage your spiritual health, please let me know. If you would like to gather with other believers, Bethel Chapel Church (on the corner of “K” and Lycoming) is now meeting in person every Sunday at 10:00 AM for a time of Bible training and at 11:00 AM for worship. You would always be welcome.