Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Loneliness Is an Epidemic with Physical Impact

Researchers created a banal scenario: a group of people would play a frivolous game of catch, tossing the ball to one another to pass the time, trying to keep it aloft. But one member of the group would never have the ball tossed her way. Try to put yourself in her shoes: you're in a group that starts a game of catch; the ball popcorns randomly around the group; giggling and frivolity ensue; you keep waiting for your chance to join in the fun. But the ball never comes your way. You're patient at first. You smile when others smile. You inch a little further into the circle to try to draw attention. Your smile is becoming more forced now. Until eventually you conclude: the ball is never coming your way. This game isn't for you. You pretend you didn't want to play anyway. You stop trying.

The researchers discovered that the ostracized person will testify to an increased sense that life is meaningless and devoid of purpose. Now imagine this isn't an experiment but the shape of a life: instead of waiting for a ball to come your way in a silly game of catch, you're waiting for anyone to call or drop by or speak your name. You can't even express it, but you're hungering for some sign that you are known.

But no one calls. No one asks how you're doing. No one listens to your thoughts about the morning news. You are alone.

Loneliness has become a societal epidemic in late capitalist societies. For example, one study from the U.K. (although the US has a similar picture) concludes:

Seventeen per cent of older people interact with family, friends or neighbors less than once a week, while 11 per cent do so less than once a month. It is linked to cardiovascular disease, dementia and depression and according to some researchers, its effect on mortality is similar to smoking and worse than obesity. One study revealed that it can increase the risk of an early death by as much as 30 percent. There is also a strong link between isolation and poverty: having two or more close friends reduces the likelihood of poverty by nearly 20 percent.

Related Sermon Illustrations

The Raw Truth of Loneliness

Writing for OMagazine, psychologist Shira Nayman gives a poignant overview:

Loneliness is perhaps the greatest of human aches. It thwarts our fundamental urge for connection. Even as ...
[Read More]

The Lonely Despair of American Males

The last twenty years has seen a dramatic increase in the suicides of white, middle-aged men in the western half of the United States, primarily in rural areas. Poverty and isolation ...

[Read More]