Loneliness and Fear

Lonely Bench

Today’s quote is from Holy Scripture in the words of King David: “Turn to me and be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am lonely and afflicted.” Psalm 25:16

There are many reasons people become lonely, three of which are on my mind today. The first is loneliness that develops at the time of death of a loved one. The second is loneliness that occurs when one has been diagnosed with a serious, even fatal disease. The third is loneliness simply from living alone, whether at home or in an extended care facility.

In each circumstance the loneliness is often accompanied by feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, hunger, boredom, despair, or even depression. The initial loneliness is often exacerbated by the absence of family or friends with whom the lonely person can share the feelings listed above.

To make matters worse, more often than not such friends and even family members are reluctant to call or visit the person whose affliction has produced the loneliness. One reason for such reluctance is uncertainty about what to say or do that will make the afflicted person feel better.

My encouragement is for you to pick up the phone and call that person in your life described by this article. Perhaps begin with something like: “I heard of your loss/illness/move (or it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other) and just wanted to call to let you know that you are in my heart and in my prayers. Is there anything I might be able to do for you at this time?”

Then simply let the person talk. Avoid trying to make him or her feel better by referring to your own experiences with loneliness. Instead, try to think of things to say that will convey your sincere concern and that might stimulate further conversation, no matter how brief.

If you feel confident doing so, conclude the conversation with a prayer for God’s comfort, love, and guidance. If you’re not confident in actually praying aloud, simply assure the person with whom you’re speaking of your prayers and love. Then follow through on that assurance with a note or another call or a personal visit to provide further encouragement and support.

David cried out in his loneliness to the Lord, who responded with comfort and blessing. That caused David to exclaim a couple chapters later: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

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Ebola

Ebola VirusWhat very recently was a word foreign to most languages is now a household word around the world. It’s a word that strikes fear in the hearts of people in the healthcare profession, people who fly internationally, and people who unknowingly have been or will be exposed to what appears to be an almost always fatal virus.

Tuesday’s Austin American Statesman printed a story from Washington by Tony Pugh of McClatchy Newspapers. It says, in part: “Health officials Monday were scrambling to identify and monitor a large number of healthcare workers at a Dallas hospital who could be at risk of contracting Ebola after they cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the disease last week in the hospital’s isolation ward.”

“It’s unclear how many caregivers could be at risk, though records show about 70 helped care for Duncan. Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he wouldn’t be surprised if more workers develop the disease in the coming weeks.”

Already one of the workers at the hospital has tested positive for the virus, even though she had worn protective clothing in her “multiple contacts” with Duncan. “She had gone to the hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, on Friday night after she began running a low-grade fever.”

The worker is a 26-year-old nurse at the hospital, identified by her family as Nina Pham. Please join me in prayer for this young lady, her family, and all others who have been exposed to this dreaded disease. Lord, have mercy!