It is not good that man should be alone (….) -Gen. 2:18 (NKJV)
For the past few years we’ve heard much about the Covid epidemic, but in early 2023 the US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A issued a report about a new plague sweeping our land. Entitled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” Dr. Murthy calls out social disconnection as a grave threat.
Murthy opens his report with this dire warning: “When I first took office as Surgeon General in 2014, I didn’t view loneliness as a public health concern. But that was before I embarked
on a cross-country listening tour, where I heard stories from my fellow Americans that surprised me.
“People began to tell me they felt isolated, invisible, and insignificant. Even when they couldn’t put their finger on the word “lonely,” time and time again, people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, from every corner of the country, would tell me, ‘I have to shoulder all of life’s burdens by myself,’ or ‘if I disappear tomorrow, no one will even notice.’
“It was a lightbulb moment for me: social disconnection was far more common than I had realized.
“In the scientific literature, I found confirmation of what I was hearing. In recent years, about one-in-two adults in America reported experiencing loneliness.1-3 And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic cut off so many of us from friends, loved ones, and support systems, exacerbating loneliness and isolation.”
The Surgeon General then makes these shocking claims: “Loneliness is far more than just a bad feeling—it harms both individual and societal health. It is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death. The mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, [emphasis ours] and even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity.”
Thankfully, God has shown us a way out through His word, the Bible. Seeing Adam’s loneliness, “I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18 NIV) and thus God created the first marriage and family. And regardless of our marriage or family status, God has invited us all into His family, called the church.
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) tells us “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” So, the model is, church is not a building where you go to just sit, but to actively seek to encourage others as they seek to encourage you.
In contrast to the backdrop of division and turmoil in our culture, the Bible calls us to unity and fellowship. “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! (Ps. 133:1)”
If you find yourself in isolation or loneliness, don’t suffer in silence. Take the first step, pick up the phone (to call someone and not scroll social media), and reach out. Like Grandma used to say, “The best way to make a friend is to be a friend.”
Take the step from disconnection into community today!