April 1, 2020
Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
it has become as dry as a stick.
Those killed by the sword are better off
than those who die of famine;
racked with hunger, they waste away
for lack of food from the field.
Did you know it is possible to starve with a belly full of food? Charles Darwin observed it in The Voyage of the Beagle as did Lewis and Clark during their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. What they observed was that diets of very lean meat and little else eventually caused starvation. It’s a phenomenon known as “rabbit starvation” because rabbits and small game were, for frontiersman and explorers, an abundant yet insufficient food source. The essential problem is that the body uses more resources (calories & vitamins) to break down extremely lean protein than it receives from the digestion.
Many of us are experiencing a form of rabbit starvation. We are more connected than we have ever been before. Close friends are only a phone call away. Information arrives in our pocket in a never ending stream. Through teleconferencing, we can see the faces and hear the voices of people on the other side of the world. Yet, loneliness and a sense of isolation continue to grow at an incredible pace. That sense of isolation is compounded by the current global pandemic as most of us are stuck at home without our regular rhythms or gatherings.
The author of Lamentations says that a quick death is preferable to the slow wasting of starvation. So it’s no surprise that the National Suicide Hotline has seen a 300% spike in call volume recently. People are acutely feeling the effects of social starvation, and some are echoing the cry of Lamentations 4. This is a call to action for we, the church. If COVID-19 is the most obvious crisis, loneliness is the creeping crisis of our neighborhoods and cities. We can make a difference. Ask the people around you how they are doing – not just how their schedules and jobs have been impacted by COVID-19. Ask how their marriages, families, and mental health have been impacted. Offer to help. Tell them you will be praying for them, and then follow up. There is no better time for us to be the church.