“Sir … I have no one…” (John 5:7)
A missionary told me this story:
We were the guests of an extended Thai family at a festive meal. The discussion drifted toward life in the United States. An uncle of the host joined the discussion. “Is it true?” he asked, “that in American streets one sees houses without people around, talking together?” I answered that was mostly so. Someone then wanted to know whether it was true that in America children marry someone so far away that they don’t see their parents for a year. “Yes,” I answered, “that is not unusual.” Then the uncle said, “There must be much loneliness in America…”
The missionary then added that she had pondered on the observations of those people. "I had not really thought of the people back home as particularly lonely. My parents regularly skype with my siblings living distantly and it seemed to me that the people I knew weren’t all that lonely. But, she added, as I thought about it some more, it occurred to me: what about the quality of those contacts? Do we communicate from the heart? Could it be that members of one family have become strangers to one another, even though they live under the same roof…?"
John 5 tells of Jesus ministering to a man who told Him, “I have no one …” What desperate words! To have no one…There are so many people around us who could echo those words. And some of them are found in our own church community.
Our challenge is two-fold:
- Assessing our personal contacts and relationships: are they real and helpful? Do we tend them with care?
- In the wider circle of people around us, are there some who are lonely, who have, perhaps, ‘no one’? Can we reach out to them?