Each month this year, Women’s Ministries is highlighting common issues women face. In February, we are focusing on the difficulty many women face with feelings of loneliness and isolation. These feelings existed pre-pandemic but have certainly become more prominent in the last several months. This article offers encouragement for embracing the local church community the Lord has placed you in to fight off this loneliness. Despite the challenges we face in gathering during this time, there are still creative ways to engage in the community God has given you. We are better together, and the body of Christ is a powerful tool to be utilized in fighting off isolation in your life.
- Whitney Davis, WM National Director
It appears that we are more connected than ever with the technological advances of our day, but I would simply argue that technology has provided better means of communication and fewer means for connection. We desire to be “linked in” not realizing we’re abandoning authentic relationships. Connection with God and others is one of the keys to Christian living. When we lose this essential link, we lose out.
Acts 2:42, 46: “The community continually committed themselves to learning what the apostles taught them, gathering for fellowship, breaking bread, and praying. They were unified as they worshiped at the temple day after day.”
Since the beginning, God’s people have gathered to worship Him. The Apostles established churches throughout the land, so the people would receive sound doctrine and be strengthened through fellowship, as they devoted themselves to gathering in worship to the Lord. The modern-day church is full of people who attend less and less because their plates fill up with more and more as their priorities shift.
God intended us to be in relationship with Him and in community with others. When we spend time with Him, we see His heart, experience love, and we understand the felt needs of others. In community, we learn to love and honor one another, we learn to encourage and care for one another, and we take off our masks and become vulnerable. In community, we learn that we can’t do life alone.
We all experience seasons of trials, yet all too often, we withdraw to a corner like an injured dog to lick our wounds. If only we would have the faith to expose them when beckoned and the wisdom to gather with our Master and His people, who can and will apply a healing salve to us. When we receive that, we are comforted, strengthened, and encouraged to move forward.
Recently, a good friend of mine was going through a difficult season. Her marriage was coming to an end, as her husband was an addict who was verbally and mentally abusive to her. I continually reached out to her, encouraging her to not forsake the fellowship, and she constantly shied away, choosing to communicate via technology rather than connect in full transparency. There was a shadow of shame and failure following her everywhere she went, and sadly, she couldn’t see the light of day.
After a few attempts, she finally gave what she thought was a satisfactory answer, “I’ll be back as soon as this is over.” My heart ached for her, and I immediately prayed for her and responded, “Don’t wait until this is over. We love you. God loves you. You need us. We need you.”
What I didn’t know was that my words were speaking to her heart and beckoning her to come out of the corner, out of hiding, and back to fellowship. She came to church the following Sunday and before the worship team reached the bridge to the first song, I glanced out of the corner of my eye, and I saw tears streaming down her face. Those cleansing tears that fell in worship, coupled with the love and encouraging words from friends, were the healing salve that she needed. She was stronger in fellowship and received the reassurance she needed to keep walking through the valley, not to pitch a tent and stay there.
She had become isolated and needed to grow stronger in fellowship. This happens when we commune with God in worship. It happens when we submit to community at the local church. It happens in conversations in small groups. Matthew 18:20: “When two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
A couple of months after she came back, she found herself focusing on the felt needs of others and ministering to them. These ladies may or may not have had the same issues in their lives, but they had the same outcome—isolation. My friend has been 100% committed to staying strong in fellowship. She has shared her story with many and is being used to draw the wounded out of the corner and into community.
Whatever you’re walking through, don’t allow the shadows in the corner to speak louder than the soothing call to come out of hiding. We are better together.
Nicole and her husband, Mark, are the lead pastors at Celebration Center in Modesto, California. Nicole has a passionate desire to see the lost come to Jesus and for them to discover their God-given purpose, while growing in community by doing life with others. She has 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters and in addition to ministry, she enjoys a hot cup of coffee, laughing with friends, and traveling.