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home : religion : inspirational reflections July 9, 2020

3/29/2020 12:29:00 PM
Jesus And The Pandemic Of Loneliness
Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is  10% what happens to you and  90% how you react to it.'

Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is 
10% what happens to you and 
90% how you react to it.'

Rev. Susan Smith
Emanuel Reformed Church

We are all learning a new way to live with social distancing in the coronavirus pandemic. Today we must stay six feet apart from those around us. Even family members avoid touching or close contact with those they love. Recently my son returned to this area from Los Angeles, but we were not able to hug or even stand close to each other. He is staying with friends in Charlotte for now to protect me but I know coronavirus is there too so I don’t know when I will be able to hug him again.

It is heart breaking to hear the stories of people who are dying alone without their loved ones to hold their hand in their final moments. Pastors are giving last rites over the phone. People sick with the disease are quarantined for weeks. Healthcare workers are sleeping in their garages to protect their families. Stay at home orders for those who live alone is even more isolating.

The coronavirus is causing a pandemic of loneliness in humanity, but we have been here before. In Biblical times leprosy was an incurable contagious bacterial infection that was spread from person to person by coughing or nasal droplets like the coronavirus. Those with the disease had to practice extreme social distancing too.

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Leviticus 13:45

45 “Anyone who is discovered to have leprosy must tear his clothes and let his hair grow in wild disarray, and cover his upper lip and call out as he goes, “I am a leper, I am a leper.” Those with leprosy were not allowed to live in any community with their own people. A leper wasn’t allowed to come within six feet of any other human, including his own family. They were forbidden from coming within 150 feet of anyone when the wind was blowing and lived in isolated communities with other lepers to contain the spread of the disease. Without telephones, the internet, and social media they were even lonelier than we are in their distress.

Considering what we are going though now, we can get a new appreciation for how Jesus healed a leper in Mark 1:40-45:

40Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.

Jesus radiated God’s presence and love so profoundly that even though this leper was to call out “I’m a leper” and not go with in six feet of anyone he went straight up to Jesus and knelt at his feet. Jesus did not draw back and His willingness to touch the leaper surely meant as much as the healing that followed. God had touched him when no one else could or would and he was made whole.

Today doctors, nurses, and first responders are the hands of Jesus touching people with coronavirus when no one else can. Their touch surely means as much as the care they are giving, and we thank God for them. Jesus can touch us in our six feet of personal space, in our homes, and in this pandemic of loneliness. Nothing, not even the coronavirus, can separate us from the presence and love of God.

Rev. Smith is the pastor of Emanuel Reformed Church and can be reached at 828-962-8196 or

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