Hope for Living: Reach out to combat tyranny of loneliness

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Rich Bailey is pastor of Curry’s Chapel Church.

Loneliness is reaching rampant proportions across the world. A 2023 survey by Meta-Gallop Survey showed that 24% of respondents reported being very/fairly lonely, and an additional 27% reported being a little lonely.

“The lowest rates of feeling lonely are reported among older adults (aged 65 and older), with 17% feeling very or fairly lonely, while the highest rates of feeling lonely are reported among young adults (aged 19 to 29), with 27% feeling very or fairly lonely. Although many calls to reduce loneliness are focused on older adults, majorities of those aged 45 and older do not feel lonely at all, while less than half of those younger than 45 say the same.” There is little difference in response by gender.

These survey results are surprising in that the majority of efforts to combat this tyranny called loneliness have been focused on those over the age of 45. Clearly, the majority of the lonely are in the younger generations.

The World Health Organization, the U.S. Surgeon general and others have been warning of the dangers of loneliness for some time. These dangers bring about a tyranny of issues including stroke/heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression/anxiety, addiction, suicide, self-harm, dementia and early death.

The future of any society or country is directly related to the coming to age of its younger generations. Thus, we need to understand how this tyranny of loneliness in young adults has come about.

The conclusion of a United Kingdom study published in early 2022: “The most prevalent cause for loneliness was feeling disconnected. Many young adults spoke about being lonely because they felt unable to express themselves, their feelings or talk about their issues. They also talked about being lonely due to feeling they did not matter to others and were not understood.”

Is this really a surprise? When you look around, you see this evidenced by the proclivity of young adults to communicate via electronic means rather than by way of face-to-face interactions.

I do not intend my focus on the younger folks to be to the exclusion of the impact of loneliness among the older generations. Loneliness is a problem for any age group. Whether people be younger or older, the root cause of loneliness/disconnection is the same, which is the lack of meaningful connection with another person without an intermediary device. The solution to a tyranny of loneliness is to encourage contact with each other.

Jesus was no stranger to loneliness either. But unlike most of the lonely today, He knew that the feeling of disconnection does not have to be what seems to many to be a “life sentence.” He told us in John 16:32, “Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.”

Our challenge today is for all believers to understand that Satan’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10). This means Satan is working overtime (so to speak) to take away the future of our society and countries.

We must ALL actively take action to reach out to the lonely and disconnected of any age in such a manner to bring them positive interactions free of intermediary devices. Simply put, we need to talk to people in meaningful discussions that lead them away from the use of intermediaries that cause the disconnection leading to loneliness.

I encourage you to come to church and begin a discussion that not only pushes you to action but does the same for others. If we believers do not assume the efforts to combat Satan, then no one else will.

Will I see you in church this Sunday?

Rich Bailey is pastor of Curry’s Chapel Church. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.