Loneliness is something we’re all prone to at times. Even those of us in churches can feel it. Often, we assume that someone else, somewhere, is offering generous support to the lonely. But why not just find a way to be that person? The Bible says that God ‘puts the lonely into families’ (Psalm 68:6): today the way He does that could be through you.
Choose how you’ll complete today’s act:
Go for a drink with someone. Take tea to an elderly person on their own, or a new mum. Or grab a coffee with a new student who’s still making friends.
Let someone know you’re around. Tell them you’d be up for checking in with regular texts. Or even let them know they can call on you for anything, from having you on speed dial to going along with them to an event.
Make a commitment to a lonely person. Take them under your wing and look out for them. Start today by inviting them to a meal with your friends.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
(James 1:27 NIV)
Your thought for today:
What is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, increases the risk of high blood pressure and obesity, increases the likelihood of suffering from depression and can shorten our lives? The answer doesn’t come with a long Latin name. It is as simple as its effects are complex: it is loneliness and social isolation.
The Bethany Christian Trust runs a project called Passing the Baton which equips volunteers to come alongside people who are chronically lonely and isolated. Peter, a Christian from a local church in Edinburgh, was introduced to Mark through Bethany Christian Trust.
Mark was feeling very depressed when he was befriended by Peter. He’d lost his partner, his flat and his car within a year. The situation was so difficult for Mark that he ended up having to resign from his job at Tesco and declare himself bankrupt.
Although he’d moved into a new flat with support from a couple of friends, he had very little connection with the local community and so was quite isolated. It was during this time that he was visited weekly by Peter for a coffee and conversation. Their friendship developed over the course of many weeks and Mark’s confidence began to grow as he was encouraged by Peter and helped to pick up the computer skills he needed to search and apply for a job. Peter’s consistent friendship and encouragement meant that Mark didn’t give up and eventually got a job as a retail sales assistant at Primark.
Mother Teresa once said that loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. God has created us in his image to be relational and connect with him and one another. In the creation story God says, ‘It is not good for man to be alone’ (Genesis 2:18). God wants to bring transformation in our communities through friendship; like Jesus He wants us to be the friend of sinners and love our neighbours as ourselves.
Written by Pall Singh
Pall works for Bethany Christian Trust in Edinburgh as the coordinator for Passing the Baton, which supports churches to befriend and engage with people who are socially isolated and lonely in their communities. Since 1997 Pall has worked with CMS as a mission partner and East West Trust enabling churches in Birmingham towards a better understanding of South Asian cultures and working in diverse communities. He also represents the Cinnamon Network in East Scotland as their church engagement advisor and leadership trainer.
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