July 11th is National Cheer Up The Lonely Day. I know that some of these observances are unworthy and meritless–July is also the month for “Disobedience Day,” “World UFO Day,” “Video Games Day,” “Embrace Your Geekness Day” (that’s today for any wanting to broadcast their nerdiness), “Yellow Pig Day,” and “Take Your Pants For A Walk Day.” Almost every day on the calendar is national something day. Yet, I appreciate very much the sentiment behind “Cheer Up The Lonely Day.”
Francis Pesek of Detroit, Michigan, is apparently the founder of this holiday. The “Holiday Insights” website only says that Mr. Pesek “was a quiet, kind, wonderful man who had a heart of gold. He got the idea as a way of promoting kindness toward others who were lonely or forgotten as shut-ins or in nursing homes with no relatives or friends to look in on them” (http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/July/cheeruplonely.htm). Syndicated columnist Kerby Anderson writes, “The baby boom generation is headed for a crisis of loneliness.” A Gallup study reported more than one in three Americans are lonely. There are some more apt to suffer from long-term loneliness, such as those with chronic illness, the disabled, married people isolated from each other, widows and widowers, single adults, pessimists, and those who tend toward reclusiveness. It leads to stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, negative relationships, and several health complications.
Most experts say that to a significant degree, the lonely person himself or herself plays the most key role in overcoming the loneliness. Paying attention to others, serving and helping them, is key to defeating it. There is also the need to focus, perhaps to an even greater degree, on faith and one’s relationship with God. They may benefit from reading and other resources to improve relationship-building.
Yet, God has given us, as Christians, a responsibility to reach out to the lonely. The Hebrews writer (12:12) quotes Isaiah, who urges God’s people to “encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble” (35:3). Our task is to help those who are overcome by life’s troubles and temptations (cf. Gal. 6:1-2). We are to visit those, like widows, in their “distress” (Js. 1:27). Christ calls on those who wish to be saved to be engaged in visiting those having a variety of needs (Mt. 25:36). Certainly, in principle, God calls on us to do what we can to ease the hurt and burden of loneliness.
It is encouraging to read how God feels about the lonely. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). Jesus said He was sent to such as these (Lk. 4:18). If God has such tender feelings for people such as the lonely, shouldn’t we?