We live during a time in history where feelings of depression, hopelessness, loneliness and emptiness are heightened. Public-health experts have been concerned about an epidemic of loneliness in the U.S. for some time already. In fact, a recent survey found that loneliness levels have reached an all-time high. The 2018 survey was conducted before any quarantines, forced separation or isolation impacted the country. Now, with many businesses closed, some employees work remotely and social distancing measures still in effect, there are more ways than ever to be isolated and disconnected, both physically and spiritually. This means we must be more intentional with how we serve others.
Connected in Christ
As followers of Christ, we know that nothing can separate us from God’s love.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)
He is always with us, and he calls on us to share our concerns with him in prayer.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)
God wants and desires a relationship with us. We can’t be quarantined from God’s love. He is always there for us, and we can rely on his strength. However, God also designed us to have community with one another. Before creating Eve in Genesis 2:18 (NIV), God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” In Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV), we are called to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We may not be able to meet in the same way as we’re used to because of social distancing, but we can still find ways to encourage each other, show God’s love and perform good deeds that reflect Christ to the world. As we go through this difficult time together, consider these three ways that you can support, serve or stay connected to others who may be feeling isolated, while still maintaining social distancing guidelines.
1. Be active in prayer.
If we aren’t in consistent fellowship with God through prayer, we may miss out on him revealing ways he wants to work through us during this time. Make prayer a part of your daily life. Be mindful to listen to how God may be guiding you to serve others. Also, we shared recently for the National Day of Prayer some specific things to be praying for during this difficult time. Those prayer considerations are still true today. We need to pray for the provision, health and safety of first responders, workers at essential businesses and the unemployed.
There are many families dealing with the pain of the loss of loved ones who need to be covered in prayer. Additionally, we are seeing tangible reminders of the pain that exists in our world today. We must pray for healing not only from a virus but of the causes of division in our world.
2. Call — don’t just text to check in.
Many of us are in the habit of sending a quick text to check in with friends and family. While that would be fine in most circumstances, a phone call may be more personal and mean more to someone who may be feeling disconnected right now. You could also set up a time for a video call to be able talk face to face.
Hearing a voice and seeing a friendly face might just be the difference maker that someone needs. If there’s someone you know who is living along or struggling with isolation, go out of your way during this time to stay connected with that person.
3. Offer to help those who need it.
If you’re healthy and able, now is a great time to offer to do tasks that others may not be able to, while also taking proper precautions. Perhaps an elderly family member or member of your church doesn’t feel comfortable going to the grocery store. You could offer to go grocery shopping and deliver to his or her front door.
Have you noticed that your neighbor’s trash cans or newspaper are often at the curb when you go out in the morning? An easy act of service is pulling your neighbor’s trash cans up the driveway or delivering the newspaper to the door. This lets your neighbor know that you care, and may give you the opportunity to get to know him or her better. In the process, you may discover other ways that you serve your neighbor.
Also, you could send a note of encouragement to friends or family, or if you’re a baker, share a bread or sweet treat. It’s a great, simple way to show you’re thinking of someone. Finally, if you know someone who is struggling due to unemployment, you could connect him or her to your church or another local organization that you know is providing assistance.
If you’re part of a local church, it’s likely that you have additional ways that you can support the community with your time or resources. We are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV), and it’s up to us to be the hands and feet of Christ in a world that needs to see Christ’s love.
If you’re feeling isolated, remember that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NIV). Don’t be afraid to reach out to your church, family or friends if you need support or connection.