I sat on the edge of a fold out couch. The sound of constant beeping had woken me and my heart sank. The reality that I was in a hospital room came back to me. Just eight hours before that moment, my daughters had been in a horrifying car accident. Like a punch to the gut, the emotions flooded back, fear looming in my heart.
My wife and I had no idea if our youngest daughter would survive.
I fought back tears as I sat staring at our oldest daughter asleep in her hospital bed, dried blood still in her hair. The fear, uncertainty, and heartache that surrounded me had to contend with something else though. I was surrounded by friends, too.
I looked around the room and two men from my small group sat in chairs, drowsy but awake, with looks on their faces of empathy and assuredness that they were right there for me. My youth pastor and his wife were sitting on the other side of the hospital bed, praying over my daughter. Fear surrounded me, but the family of God was defending me.
I was not alone.
And you’re not alone either.
I cannot count the times I have had conversations with pastors who told me they felt alone. They felt that they had no friends to confide in, or they doubted that anyone would be there for them if some tragedy happened in their life.
How did we ever come to this?
How did we get to a place where pastors and everyday Christians feel alone?
Loneliness has become the number one social issue in our country. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, loneliness has become an epidemic and more dangerous than cigarette smoking. Americans are battling the effects of loneliness such as depression, eating disorders, and even suicide. As Christians, we have hope. We are to be a body, closely connected with others around us. We should bear each other’s burdens and hold each other up; yet in the church often the opposite is true.
Love Over Loneliness
When Amber and I went through the dark time of our girls surviving, rehabbing, and climbing out of that horrible accident, we felt many things. But alone was not one of them.
Before the wreck occurred, the culture in our young church plant was to do life together and to live the life of disciples as Jesus modeled and commands in Scripture—that we would truly live out loving God and loving each other, that we would have “everything in common” as the book of Acts describes.
Side note: I write about this topic and my experiences during this season of my life in more detail in Chapter 8 of my book Disciple-Making Culture.
A Different Kind of Culture
I wrote Disciple-Making Culture to help inspire, motivate, and challenge the church today to be something different, to walk out the life of a disciple and create a culture where disciple-making can occur. When we do that, loneliness is pushed out and a sense of community enters in its place.
Without Christ and without his church being the church, I know Amber and I could have never made it. So many nights we both woke to beeping machines and a fear of the unknown, but never, not once, were we alone.