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Holidays can trigger loneliness

Voices of Religion

Posted: Friday, December 29, 2006

Pollsters say their research reveals that nearly half of us are troubled by periods of loneliness.

These melancholy moods may arrive for a number of reasons: living a long distance from people we love, distrust of others, divorce, a recent relocation or even the arrival of a holiday season that triggers memories of past family gatherings.

Perhaps you’re one of these lonely ones.

What can you do to lessen your loneliness?

Try reaching out to other lonely people.

A widow told me she had learned to cope with being alone by visiting people in nursing homes. There she shared her faith and gave words of encouragement to others unable to be out and about among their friends.

A husband and wife who are concerned about lonely people make regular visits to prisoners. Their love for these forgotten ones has made a difference in their own lives and added hope to those who often feel hopeless.

While the criminal justice system grinds along in dismay over what to do about repeat crime, these two and others who now work with them are witnessing the power of their concern for the lonely and the message of God’s love that they bring.

An entire pew at their church is now often occupied by former prison inmates; it’s called the “Miracle Pew.”

The one whose birthday is the reason for the season added a special dimension to ministering to lonely and hurting people, saying: “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me,” Matthew 25:35-36.

Knowing that his hearers might be confused by his words since they had not ministered to him in all these caring ways, he added: “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me,” Matthew 25:40.

When these lonely times come to you, remember others are lonely too.

Somebody needs you.

Pick up your phone and call someone you’ve been neglecting.

Write a letter to one who is ill or has suffered a great loss and who may be wondering if anyone cares.

Invite a lonely person to attend the services of your church and offer to provide transportation so there will be no excuse for not accepting your invitation.

Change the focus of your thoughts from yourself to others.

Many churches and non-profit charitable organizations find themselves facing financial needs at this time of the year. You can have a part in their good work by making a generous contribution during the next few days, sharing your blessings with people in need and lifting the loads of others who are busy doing the same.

Seize the season to introduce a lonely person to your Lord. The one born in Bethlehem’s manger longs to take away your loneliness and that of all the lonely people you will ever meet.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you,” he said.

Rest on his promise and share it with others.

There’s no reason for you to feel lonely anymore.

Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich. He was a pastor for 22 years and has been a guest speaker in Alaska churches from Anchorage to Homer.



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