Weekly message from Cypress Church: Pushing away loneliness

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;I will strengthen you, I will help you,I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Kristi (my wife) and I were out for our usual walk. We walk down our street out and weave in and out of the streets that connect to ours. We walk along one of the main streets in the area for a short bit and cut through a shopping center, a school, and loop back to our house. It’s not a huge endeavor, but it gets us outside and mostly it’s a time for us to connect. We share stories of our day; what was fun, what was funny, what was difficult, how we felt, what big things we are tackling, and process through feelings, plans, and ideas. It’s also a time for us to coordinate life and dream together. Along this walk we experience connection and if we have been feeling lonely in anyway, isolated or alienated, this interaction pushes away the loneliness.
What is also interesting is on these walks we also engage others. We have some regulars where we have learned their name and stopped for a short conversation. It does not seem like much, but on more than one occasion, that person has said they were feeling a bit invisible, disconnected, or lonely and our time with them brightened their day. I am not sure if that was true of new person cleaning up the shopping center, but just last week, Kristi engaged in conversation with her. She had been emptying the trash cans and the last few times we had seen her and tried to say hi she was head-down, doing her work. This time Kristi noticed this young woman looked a little distant, so Kristi started talking to her and thanked her for her work. This young woman’s whole demeanor changed. She looked up and smiled like I had never seen. She responded and as we left, she thanked us for greeting her. Maybe we were used by God to help push away some loneliness.

A National Public Radio NPR online article, Most Americans Are Lonely, And Our Workplace Culture May Not Be Helping, cites a Cigna Healthcare study that says 3 out 5 Americans are lonely and loneliness has risen over 13% since 2018. A CNBC online article also cites that Cigna report and says “loneliness is on the rise and younger workers and social media users feel it most.” It says some 73% of ages 18-22 report to either sometimes or always feeling lonely. So, what are the helps that push away loneliness? One article from Psychology Today gives three helps that are echoed by countless others. The three helps include interacting with others, limiting screen time, and fostering more neighborly contact with those around you. These actions push away loneliness.

I would also suggest connecting with God. A while ago,I was alone on a train in Japan and was overcome with loneliness. Through a miracle I was able to call Kristi and as I was bemoaning my lonely condition, she reminded me that God was with me.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Psalms 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil, for you (God) are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
As I was reminded of the nearness of God, I took time to pray. The wave of loneliness was pushed away. The first part of the Bible verse James 4:8 says “God is near to the brokenhearted.“If you are feeling lonely, yes, connect with others but also consider connecting with God. There are too many of us who feel lonely. Maybe you could be someone who engages, connects, and interacts with others and be one of the factors in another’s life that helps to push away loneliness. Who could you connect with today?
Church is a great place to connect with others. If you don’t have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches. Every Sunday we learn from the Bible and seek to know God more. We would love for you to join us. Our website has more information: http://www.cypresschurch.net. You can even attend one of our live-streaming services (see http://live.cypresschurch.net/).