May 13, 2020
The Challenge of Social Isolation

by Woodrow Cannon

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
The last severe pandemic in the United States was the Spanish Flu,1918-1919. Worldwide, almost 500M people were infected (about 1/3 of the population.) The Spanish Flu resulted in roughly 17-50M deaths worldwide, with 675K in the United States. The US population was less than 1/3 of what it is today. This death toll was more than all US deaths in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam combined. The Spanish Flu was devastating as health care and antibiotics of 102 years ago were not even close to the ones we have today. 

That being said, none of us has dealt with a public health crisis that even approaches COVID-19. We are required to stay at home, isolate ourselves, and maintain “social distancing.” Schools, business offices, most stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and even our churches are closed.

Human beings are social creatures, and it is not good to be alone. How can we deal with continued isolation? How much longer is this going to go on? When will we be allowed to meet normally even meet to worship God together?
We must keep in mind that our isolation is only physical. We can and should stay in touch with family and friends. It might even be easier now to re-establish contact with some old friends and talk by phone, or even video chat over computers. Now, most people are at home most of the time and instantly available. There is no reason to be socially isolated.     

What is required to stop the spread of COVID-19 is inconvenient, but necessary. COVID-19 is dangerous. Initial estimates on the projected US death toll were extraordinarily high. Estimates today are much lower but still high. Our public health organizations appear to be making excellent progress in understanding how to slow or stop the spread of this terrible disease and it is working.

This will end. It may not end quickly, but it will end. Our physical isolation is inconvenient and possibly expensive, but our good practices will be rewarded with a triumph over a terrible disease. God is with us. Our victory will yield good health to most of us, our community, our church, and our country. We should rejoice with our time with loved ones. We should dedicate time to enjoy long, deep conversations with our spouses, children, parents, siblings, grandchildren, and friends. Quality time with families and friends is a blessing. Take long walks with spouse and children. You will all enjoy it, and it will be good for you. Teach your children something useful that you have not yet done, because “it would take too much time.” (Like teaching your 13-year-old to play bridge, or canasta, or some other game you enjoyed before life got too busy.) Our “normal” lives will return soon enough, we will remain healthy, and shortly after, we will begin to miss the time we had to spend in “physical isolation” with our loved ones.

Our physical isolation had a beginning and it will have an end. We are not required to and we should not socially isolate. We should focus on what we can do that is enjoyable and important rather than thinking about what is not available for the moment.  

God bless us all.
Jesus, during Your ministry on Earth, You showed Your power and caring by healing people of all ages and stations of life from physical, mental, and spiritual ailments. Be present now to people who need Your loving touch because of COVID-19. May they feel Your power of healing through the care of doctors and nurses.

Take away the fear, anxiety, and feelings of isolation from people receiving treatment or under quarantine. Give them a sense of purpose in pursuing health and protecting others from exposure to the disease. Protect their families and friends and bring peace to all who love them. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009