The Bible tells us that faithful friends are life saving medicine. It turns out that this is not just a catchy feel-good phrase. Scientific studies continue to show the negative health consequences of loneliness and social isolation. Having good friends can actually help us live longer. Loneliness is a killer. Good Christian friends are a cure. I invite you to read more.
Several recent studies show that the impact of social isolation could be adding over $6 billion a year to the cost of Medicare. Multiple studies show that people who are lonely are more likely to die from heart disease, and more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, suicide, and even the common cold. The research tells us that loneliness is more dangerous to our health than obesity, and it’s the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
I read one article that indicated that two out of five Americans say that they sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and one in five say they feel lonely or socially isolated. Twenty eight percent of older adults in America live alone.
Mother Teresa once said, “loneliness is the most terrible poverty.” Helen Keller said it this way, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
As I have stated, current scientific research is shedding new light on the value of friendship, but the Bible made this clear thousands of years ago. The Bible has a lot to say about the value of good friends. John 15:13-15 places great emphasis on the value of a friend when it states this, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” It continues with Jesus telling us that we are His friends. What an amazing gift!
The Bible also offers us the following verses about the importance of friends:
- A friend loves at all times.
- Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another.
- Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter, whoever finds one finds a treasure.
- Faithful friends are beyond price, no amount can balance their worth.
My wife and I feel very blessed to have many good friends. This past week we were together with one group of friends. We hosted five couples from Florida for four nights at our home in South Carolina. We have known these particular friends for over 33 years. Despite moving away from Florida 22 years ago and now living 500 miles away, our friendship has remained solid and strong. These friendships began at church and grew through our shared Cursillo experience. Friendships rooted in Christ often become lifelong friendships. Ours has!
We all first met when we were in our 30s and 40s. Now we are in our 60s and 70s. Over the years we have raised our children together, watched them graduate and get married, and have their own children. We’ve been there for each other as we buried our parents. We were all there for one of the couples who tragically lost their son.
Yes, we are growing old together. One of guys in this group survived a bad motorcycle crash, another couple was in a horrible car accident. Collectively we have had cancer, heart attacks, a brain aneurism, atrial fibrillation, MOG disease, Covid 19, and too many surgeries and other medical problems to remember. At our ages, it is only a matter of time before each of us in this group begin to pass away. We know that as friends we will stand with those left to grieve.
I cannot imagine anyone trying to get through all of the things life throws at them without having faith in Jesus and having good Christian friends to journey with. Friends are a blessing. Unfortunately, too many people do not have them. Studies continue to show our culture’s increasing social isolation. Yes, we truly are in the midst of a loneliness epidemic.
Perhaps you are someone who does not have close friends. If you are currently experiencing loneliness, please let someone know. Ask God to bring a friend into your life. If you are blessed to have friends, but you know someone who is alone, reach out to them. As Christians, we must do all we can to end this loneliness epidemic.
I will close today’s message with a poem from an unknown author. “Friends are like diamonds and friends are like gold. Cherish them always and as you grow old, you will see that they sparkle like stars in the sky. Friends are like diamonds you keep by and by.”
Heavenly Father, your Sacred Word tells us that friends are life-saving medicine. Thank you for the friends you have placed in my life. Help me to be there for others who are experiencing loneliness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
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