The Epidemic Made Worse by the Pandemic
By Doug Bing, Washington Conference president
In 2018 the Henry J. Kaiser Family foundation reported that 22% of adults in the United States say they often feel lonely or always lonely and socially isolated.
One year later in a national study the insurance company Cigna found that 61% of Americans report feeling lonely.
Why would a health insurance company be worried about loneliness?
Well like most insurance businesses, they have to make business decisions in order to stay in business and the health implications of loneliness are becoming very apparent. In 2017 the former United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called loneliness an epidemic. One year later the United Kingdom appointed a “minister for loneliness.”
So what are the health implications?
A professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University along with a number of other colleagues have determined that the increased risk of mortality from loneliness equals that of smoking 15 cigarettes per day or being an alcoholic, and is worse than the risks of being obese (you can learn more in the Harvard Magazine, January-February 2021 issue)
This epidemic was here before the current pandemic that we are in and frankly this pandemic has certainly not helped.
We have added words and actions in or society that don’t help at all. We have social distancing and self-quarantining which while necessary to help control the spread of one virus certainly has added to many feeling isolated and lonely.
But loneliness is more than just being by yourself. You can feel very alone even when surrounded by people. You can be wondering if you matter. You can be wondering about your place in the universe or even in the sight of God.
Christians are not immune to the feelings of loneliness as it affects all walks of life and all people.
Christians are also ones that can be reaching out to each other in the many different avenues available to us to help.
Hebrews 10:25 states that we are not to forsake the assembling together so that we can encourage each other especially as we see the second coming get closer and closer. This can be done in different ways during these times. With virtual and in person ways of getting together, encouraging each other and checking in on each other we can fight the epidemic of loneliness and help each other along the way.
This goes beyond helping fellow Christians. John 17:18 states that just as Jesus was sent into the world that we are also sent into the world. We are charged with going into the world and being a force for good and to share Jesus with the world. We can do that by being friends and helping people see that they have meaning, they matter, they have a friend in Jesus and in you. That is total member involvement in sharing the gospel of Jesus.