How lovely is your dwelling place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you..’
- Psalm 84:1-4
“Loneliness is one of the greatest problems people face today. It is a leading cause of suicide—that is now the third greatest killer of students in the United States. People feel various kinds of loneliness. One of the most common is the loneliness of solitude. Or there is the loneliness of suffering. Many people experience loneliness in society, or there is the loneliness of sorrow, guilt, and judgment. All of us feel at times a loneliness for God. Someone has called it cosmic loneliness. We don’t know what it is. It makes us restless. You see, man was made for God; and without God, he is lonely. But Jesus is knocking at the door of our heart, saying, ‘I want to come in. Let me in.’ He doesn’t push His way through that door. We have to open it and invite Him in; when we do, He comes in to live forever and we are never lonely again.”
- Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham (Devotion for 16 October)
Rev. Graham quoted statistics in the quoted devotional book, published in 1965. In the sixty years since then, for the demographic of 15–25-year-old Americans, the leading cause of death remains accidental injury. Second is homicide, but those numbers have dropped in the past 2-3 decades while the suicide numbers have increased and three of the past five years, suicide was the second leading cause of death.
It is feared that the isolation factor from COVID may cause the suicide rates to increase, even though people are more out and about than they were in 2020. There is still fear, fueled by the media reports and the government wanting to look like they are doing something by exerting restrictions or threatening to reinstate restrictions.
I wrote a quiz a couple of weeks ago about the importance of touch. In it, I asked if our church’s old pastor (retired) still gave great hugs. He visited the church the Sunday before I wrote this, and I can confirm that he still gives great hugs. It brought a smile to his face in that I had been thinking of him just days before he visited. Touch is important.
If it were not for “touch”, I might have thoroughly enjoyed the COVID lockdown. My wife was in Tennessee, babysitting grandchildren, not yet on kidney dialysis. I was in PA. I was doing some house cleaning, a lot of writing, and enjoying having no schedule at all. If I wanted to write, I wrote. If I wanted to nap, I napped. It was great! But I missed the touch of another human being. It took a few months to realize that I needed that touch, but it came to me. Besides, my wife was complaining about a lot of little health concerns – concerns that should have been a higher priority in her mind as she was on kidney dialysis within three months of her return to Pennsylvania and she was evaluated for dementia, which she does not have.
But these days you can have a family of four or five in a small living room or den and still have loneliness. People do not touch. People rarely talk. They exercise their thumbs playing games on an electronic device instead.
I have read the Restoration series by Terri Blackstock where an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) shuts down all electronic and electrical distribution systems in the world. Yes, there would be depravations like the book series suggests, but we might make eye contact again with the family members that may presently be in the same room with us, but not really there.
Lord, we need You, but help us realize that we need each other also. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.