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Thomas: ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,' we weren’t designed by God to be alone

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” The lyrics of the old Beatles’ song, “Eleanor Rigby” ring truer today than ever. What was supposed to be a two-week “stay at home” order, has evolved into three months of very little social contact. Loneliness has wreaked havoc in the emotional well-being of many people. But even before the pandemic, loneliness was a problem. Many people, spent most of their workweek in a small cubicle hammering away on a computer with little contact with others. That’s why the ratings of reality TV have gone through the roof as people choose to observe other people’s lives in a virtual world. It’s not difficult to point out the lonely boys and girls in our schools. No friends, no cliques, no one. Fact is, you can spot lonely people just about anywhere especially these days — including in the mirror.

Just before creating woman, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Remember, Adam had the beauty of an untarnished creation, unstained environment, and more animals and creatures than could be counted. But he was lonely. God wired humans for authentic relationship. Not the kind found in chat rooms, tweets or on face book, but true “face to face” and “heart to heart” intimacy and friendship with God and people.

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God designed life for companionship, intimacy and friendship. That’s why there is such an ache in our hearts when we feel isolated and alone. That’s why people crave human touch, words of affirmation and encouragement — and communion with God. This pandemic has only heightened our need for others. We weren’t designed by God to be alone.

Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servants; I call you friends!” I still sing the old hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” True friendship with God begins at the cross. There the wall that separated us from intimacy is removed, and we can know Jesus as our friend and God as our Heavenly Father.

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Building relationships with people begins with the knowledge that the love, strength and encouragement we receive from our friendship with God is to be given away — invested in the lives of others. Too often we go looking for friends to fill a need in our own life. It’s all about me and getting my needs met. In reality, true friendship is about meeting the needs of others.

From time to time, we read of incredible valor when a soldier covers an enemy grenade with his own body — saving the lives of his companions. Jesus said, “The greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.” (John 15:13) Today we are daily witnessing similar heroes as hospital workers, police, first responders and a long list of others are daily laying down their lives for people they don’t even know.

Breaking the cycle of loneliness begins when we decide to become vulnerable, step out of our isolation and begin helping others. The old saying is true: “I went out looking for a friend and couldn’t find one anywhere; I went out to be a friend, and I found friends everywhere.”

Do you want to break the back of loneliness? Then reach out and touch someone today. Especially if you are weathering these days alone in an empty house or apartment. You may not be able to get out and about for your safety and health, but don’t let that stop you. We can step out of isolation and find someone who needs a friend — and be a friend — without taking a step outside our doors. Who in our circle of relationships is in the same boat as we are and stuck at home for a season? Make a phone call. Set up a schedule for sharing a meaningful Bible verse or promise a couple times each week. Write a note. Order some flowers to be delivered to a person or some carry out food for a surprise. On these beautiful summer days, step outside into the yards and take a mini-stroll stopping often to just look up in the sky and worship God. Instead of focusing on our isolation, focus on others and thank God for each day He gives us. And when the overwhelming heaviness of loneliness stalks us – remember that we are never really alone! Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always!” And He promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you!”

A beautiful song that embodies that truth and could become an anthem for us today as we face this pandemic is found in Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical, “Carousel:”

“When you walk through a storm, Hold your head up high

And don't be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm

Is a golden sky, And the sweet silver song of a lark.

Walk on through the wind, Walk on through the rain,

Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on

With hope in your heart, And you’ll never walk alone,”

You’ll never walk alone.

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The Rev. William Thomas is pastor at Hereford United Methodist Church. He can be reached at pastor@herefordumc.org.

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