Christmas Means God Is With Us
I decided to attend graduate school before moving to Kentucky for theological study. My college friends and I bade farewell in December, and in January I moved to Auburn University—my home for the next 18 months. Though on a campus of 25,000 students, I didn’t know a soul and felt very alone. It was not a pleasant time those first weeks.
Novelist John Steinbeck wrote, “We are lonesome animals, who spend all of our lives trying to be less lonesome.”
Our nation is plagued with loneliness. We’ve seen an increase in working remotely during the COVID-19 era. Many of those I know who work from home enjoy the convenience and don’t miss their commute, but it’s also true they become more isolated from workmates. One study found among “Gen Z”—those who are 21-26 years old—one half reported loneliness. Though more connected electronically than previous generations, “Gen Z” has been called “the loneliest generation.” One-third of high school seniors said they “often feel lonely.”
Many older people feel alone, abandoned by friends and family. Great Britain established the “Silver Line” network through which senior adults craving contact can call and talk with others.
We feel alone when sick or facing disease or surgery. We suffer alone in our pain.
Lonely people must take initiative and welcome others into their lives. We find nourishment in community groups, civic clubs and Bible study classes. One lady reported she joined a quilting club in order to teach others her skills. In a short while she found participants not only growing in skills, but lonely participants making new friends.
Lonely people may feel forsaken by God. In “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Coleridge wrote, “So lonely ‘twas that God himself scarce seemed there to be.” But there’s no place on earth where God is not. We may feel alone because we build walls between ourselves and God, but we aren’t alone. God doesn’t cease caring for us. He made a way for our offense to be covered. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
One of the messages of Christmas is that God took the initiative to deal with our loneliness. He sent his son whose name is Emmanuel, or “God with us.” God loved us enough to come to us as one we could see, touch and relate to. As a little girl said, “Jesus is a God with skin on!”
Now God invites everyone to come to him through Christ, the bridge by which we cross the abyss of sin and enter God’s family.