During COVID-19 with its quarantines, hospitalizations and shutdowns we have become all too aware of the painful impact emotionally, socially and spiritually of “isolation!” Loneliness has been rampant, people have struggled with depression, things like the abuse of alcohol and drugs have skyrocketed, and suicide has increased. We have discovered that “isolation” is nothing to ignore!
One of the great benefits of “a loving church family” is that it serves as an antidote to isolation… And if “brothers and sisters in Christ” are not fulfilling that function, something is seriously wrong with that church family – they are, in fact, dysfunctional and not proving themselves to be the “Body of Christ” – “His hands, His feet, His voice, and His healing presence in the power of the Holy Spirit!”
During my time of “coffee with the Lord” this week I discovered Apostle Paul himself suffered with “isolation” – and it was painful! I read about it in 2 Timothy and you can almost hear the pain in his voice as he speaks about it in chapters 1 and 4…
“All who are in Asia turned away from, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes… Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica, Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia… Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted. May it not be charged against them!” … ISOLATION!
But there were those who reached out to Paul and minister to him as he struggled with a sense of rejection, abandonment and isolation… Bless them! (And bless all those who reach out to those in the family of God to assuage and heal feelings of isolation!) Listen again to Paul…
“The household of Onesiphorus often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains! When he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me… you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus! … Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me! When you come bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.”
What comfort, what blessing, what companionship, what healing help these individuals were during Paul’s experience of ISOLATION! They were extensions of the Lord’s love, favor, help and healing!
But even more important than them and their loving ministry was the Lord – “Immanuel – God with us” – the One who promised “never to leave us or forsake us!” Hear Paul’s final word on the matter…
“But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me! … I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom! To Him be the glory forever and ever! Amen!”
(Scripture quotations from 2 Timothy 1:15-18 and 4:9-18 ESV)
Oh with God’s help, and as a member of “the Family of God” and “the Body of Christ” I want to do my part to help end the devastating impact of “ISOLATION” among fellow Christians and my “neighbors!” Don’t you?