Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit us with quarantine, loneliness and feelings of isolation among children and teens were on the rise. What a tragic irony—an epidemic of loneliness while living in the most over-connected world that’s ever existed. Then, cue the beginning of the pandemic, and we’re introduced to the concept of “social distancing” as a way to fight the coronavirus. While trying to fight one pandemic, we exacerbated the already existing epidemic of loneliness.
The effects of isolation and loneliness are scary! Loneliness has been labeled as a major public health concern, bringing with it a heightened risk of mental and physical illness, cognitive decline, suicidal ideation and behavior, and all-cause mortality.
LONELINESS AFFECT ALL GENERATIONS
Both young people and the elderly alike should be at the front of our minds and hearts when we think about the epidemic of loneliness. These generations and every generation in between report overwhelming feelings of loneliness, but it’s Gen Z that goes on record, according to a 2018 Cigna survey, as the loneliest generation to date.
It doesn’t take much thinking to realize that this makes a lot of sense. This generation has never known a day without the iPhone or social media. They have grown up with an unfulfilled promise that social media “connection” can make up for a lack of human connection, but it cannot. We see these young people in our churches every Sunday. This should break our hearts. It should lead us to long to act, but what can we do? How can we foster connection with the elderly and younger generation at the same time?
PRAYER CREATES CONNECTION
Enter the Pray for Me Campaign, just one answer to the extreme disconnection that leads to isolation and loneliness. The Pray for Me Campaign equips adults to pray for children and students in their churches. It creates connection, a link between the generations that so desperately need one another. We were never meant to live in isolation, we were created to live in community with one another, God has wired us that way. He has wired us for connection and fellowship with other people.
Psalm 68:6 gives us hope and reminds us that God sets the lonely in families. Our prayer is that the family of God—the body of Christ—in our churches would long to act as such, living in connection and fellowship with one another. May the church help bring an end to the epidemic of loneliness.