“The corrective influence a loving person can have on our distorted perception of reality is very great. We need people. Never underestimate the healing God can administer through a friend.”- Ruth Graham, In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart (2004)
“Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, ‘I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me.’ “- Jonah 2:1-2 (ESV)
In Chapter 5 (“The Dark Side of Loneliness”) of Transforming Loneliness, Ruth Graham begins with the story of Jonah. Ruth notes that when the fish swallowed Jonah, that left him all alone. As the author astutely observes, running from God Does that to you.
Therefore, Ms. Graham wonders, at that moment in time did Jonah believe he had achieved his goal to run from God? Jonah must have felt desperate!
Finally, when Jonah preached to Nineveh and the people repented, he allowed the plant of anger to grow up in him. However, Ruth notes, we’re all like Jonah. Because we chafe at obeying God when we find it uncomfortable. Then, as with Jonah, we holler at God. Hence, Ruth asks, what’s your attitude about loneliness? Do you feel frustrated and angry at God, others, yourself? Do you fear always feeling this way?
Consequently, the author counsels, Jonah’s story raises an important question for us to consider. In the midst of our loneliness, which direction do we choose to run? Toward God or away from Him? Do we look upward or inward?
In conclusion, Ms. Graham cites the words of former US surgeon general Vivek Murphy. He writes:
“During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness. . . . I found that loneliness was often in the background of clinical illness, contributing to disease and making it harder for patients to cope and heal.”
That’s why we need the corrective influence of a loving friend to help bring God’s loving touch to us.
Today’s question: When has a loving friend helped correct your distorted perception of reality? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Alarm system – emotional pain of loneliness”