We need one another. We need to be able to confess sin, rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. This, of course, is best experienced (by design!) in the local church. However, people can often come and go from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day without ever actually experiencing community. They’re more like spectators than participants.
We were created for community, which means that we need one another. Over the last several months of quarantine and isolation, we’ve witnessed and felt the necessity of true community and Christian friendship. One of the reasons that experiences like isolation, solitary confinement, and loneliness are so painful is because they go against one of our most basic needs—community.
The book of Ecclesiastes gives us some helpful wisdom on why such community is important. In chapter 4, Solomon states that, if one falls, the other will help lift him up. He goes on to say, “Though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (v. 12). Think about that: a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
The image is one of a strong, three-stranded rope that is much stronger than if the rope were just one or even two strands. In fact, it’s exponentially stronger. All of us will face times of pain and affliction, when we feel that we are falling. We will also face seasons of loneliness. Ministers and missionaries can be especially susceptible to this, as they find it difficult to confide in others or confess their sins to others—particularly with those in their church (for obvious reasons).
The Devastating Effects of Loneliness and Isolation
A number of years ago, I took part in a project to poll teenagers about their greatest fears. The results were both surprising and revealing. The number one fear listed was “being alone.” The number two fear was “rejection,” which leads to being alone. It’s little wonder that, according to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death among American teenagers today. In fact, there has been a 56% increase in suicide over the last two decades. There’s a deep sense of hopelessness that stems from loneliness and rejection.
The statistics among adults aren’t much better (around 35% increase in suicides from 1999 to 2018). Loneliness and the resulting hopelessness and lack of support have become a common experience. It’s ironic that, in an age of increasing connectivity via social media, cell phones, and texting, we are seeing a proportional decline of relational intimacy and lasting friendship.
Ravi Zacharias once said, “The loneliest moment in life is when you’ve just experienced that which you thought would deliver the ultimate, and it’s let you down.” Many have chased one pleasure high to the next, and each disappointment has multiplied their sense of a meaningless existence. O how we need to treasure the all-satisfying Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!