In the Creation account, the Lord made Adam a right-hand (wo)man because "It is not good for the man to be alone." (Gen 2:18)
In my socially-distanced conversations with many, several words are often voiced.
In the last two reflections, we've considered all except Isolated and Lonely. During this time of Stay at Home and Safer at Home, it may be that the greatest suffering for many has been isolation and loneliness. For the sake of our health, and the health of others, we are hunkered down and outside life is a grinding halt for many of us. We are isolated from the Covid virus and from the people and places that we love.
Isolation and quarantine are a means to seek to contain and control the spread of a dangerous disease. And, according to health officials, it has been working. But isolation is also a cruel thing. It can play with our minds. It makes us doubt who we are and what we know to be true. It invites us to put self-destructive thoughts on repeat and to lose our bearings. We can forget that God has been faithful. We may even wonder if He has forgotten us. Isolation is one of the cruel weapons of the Enemy of our souls.
We've seen two kinds of isolation that seem to me to be among the most cruel. I have a dear friend suffering with Parkinson's disease and living in a senior care facility who turned 81 last weekend. Her friends came to her nursing home window and sang happy birthday. A blessed respite from her hours of lonely isolation. I'm thankful for these friends who could go.
Second, the stories of Covid patients dying without the family and friends who love them break my heart. I am thankful beyond measure for the chaplains, nurses and doctors who step into this gap and minister love and blessing to these dying ones. No one should die alone!
I'm saddened for the high school seniors who can't celebrate graduation with their friends. For the children who aren't meeting their BFFs on the playground. For the moms of young ones who can't have coffee to depressurize the stressful moments of 24/7 duty.
Human beings have been created for community, for relationship with God and with others. Being isolated from others creates a grievous void within us. One single friend told me that she misses the physical touch of a child's hug. Just two weeks into our Stay at Home orders, my granddaughter asked her mother if she could hug me yet. Whatever the age, forbidden physical touch has increased isolation and loneliness.
This is hard to write and hard to read. But there are two sources of community that respond well to the cruelty of isolation and loneliness.
First, God invites us to deeply grieve these hard experiences with Him.
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8
Don't believe the Enemy's isolation lies that say God doesn't hear you or doesn't care. It's not true. God hears. God cares. In Christ, God shares the pain of isolation and loneliness. In the community of the Triune, God the Spirit is more present to you than you are to yourself.
Second, scripture tells us to cancel the cruelty of isolation by being willing "to weep with those who weep" (Rom 12:15) — even if this grief must be shared from a distance. Hiding our sorrow from others, ignoring this sorrow, or distracting ourselves from it, aren't answers to loneliness and sorrow. We are instructed to "Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2).
Who do you know who is isolated and lonely?
Who do you know who is walking through these lonely experiences?
Call them. Write them. Zoom with them.
If you are feeling the pain of isolation and loneliness, reach out. Tell someone. Call. Write. Zoom. Invite others to enter your story.
Merciful Father, minister to your beloved people in this time of separation. In the lonely times, bring your tangible presence. In the isolated hours when the Enemy whispers cruel lies, give Christ-courage to weary souls. Prompt them to pick up the phone! Remind us that we are alone together! In Jesus we pray. Amen