Flatten the Curve

We’ve all become uncomfortably familiar with the goal of the public health guidelines for self-isolating: “flatten the curve.”  This effective metaphor for decreasing the spread of the dreaded coronavirus reminds us that we all need to practise safe distancing.  The science is quite simple, stop the spread of the virus by limiting individual contact.  For the most part it seems that the general population are now cooperating with the message (at least here in Mississauga). 

There is another curve that is needs to be flattened and leveled.    

A recent study by CIGNA carried the following headline:  STUDY REVEALS LONELINESS AT EPIDEMIC LEVELS IN AMERICA.  (BLOOMFIELD, Conn) 01 May, 2018 – Today, global health service company Cigna (NYSE: CI) released results from a national survey exploring the impact of loneliness in the United States. The survey of more than 20,000 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older revealed some alarming findings:

  • Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46%) or left out (47%).
  • One in four Americans (27%) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
  • Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43%) and that they are isolated from others (43%).
  • One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20%) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18%).
  • Only around half of Americans (53%) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.
  • Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations

In a May 2019 report Forbes magazine carried similar statistics for other nations.  For instance,  in a nationwide survey released in October from the BBC, a third of Britons said that they often or very often feel lonely.  Nearly half of Britons over 65 consider the television or a pet their main source of company. In Japan, there are more than half a million people under 40 who haven’t left their house or interacted with anyone for at least six months. In Canada, the share of solo households is now 28%.   Across the European Union, it’s 34%.

Here’s the thing.  Loneliness and isolation were a significant problem before the coronavirus pandemic.  One can only imagine these stats in light of our present crisis.  I have a unique vantage point as a pastor of a local congregation to see how people are responding to this crisis.  By far the number one request that is being made of me is “how can I help someone else?” 

Let me give you just one example that represents many others that I have personally witnessed.  A lady from our church called me to ask if there were families that she could help in some way.  I gave her the names of a few families to which she proceeded to purchase grocery items, dropping them on the family’s doorsteps.  She’s not analyzing, prescribing and obsessing over what’s going on in the world, she’s doing her part to flatten the curve of isolation and loneliness.

She is practising the teaching of Galatians 6 verse 10: 

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone,

and especially to those who are of the household of faith”

This current pandemic will pass but the curve of growing loneliness is most likely going to keep growing.  But the church is uniquely poised to meet the loneliness crisis because of it has two resources to level the curve.  We have THE message of hope and peace in the good news about Jesus Christ our Lord.  And we have THE community where all are welcomed into the family of God as brothers and sisters in Christ.  The church is God’s family on earth where the belonging needs of mankind are met.    It’s quite simple.  The church has been given an opportunity to do good to everyone.  Reach out to someone today and let them know you care and offer to do whatever you can. 
Pastor Deric

The Beatitudes in Tagalog!

I recently stood on the “Mount of Beatitudes” with 45 other fellow pilgrims,  some of whom read the famous “blessed” statements of Jesus for me in Tagalog (as seen in the picture to the right).  This “mountain” is a  favorite for me in Israel because it’s the place where Jesus preached His famous “sermon on the mount.”  Some of His best known and most beloved statements were made in that sermon.  But given the present crisis we are facing and it’s subsequent economic fallout, I think it is important to focus on one part of the sermon in particular.  Take a moment to read the following excerpt from His sermon:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34

Let me make five simple observations from that paragraph that I pray will encourage you today:

  1. You are God’s greatest concern, so don’t be anxious about your life. That applies to the food and water you consume to the goods needed to keep your body protected.  The logic Jesus employed is simple.  If God can take care of the “birds of the air” don’t you know that He will take care of you.
  2. Anxiety is good for nothing. It doesn’t contribute one iota to your well-being.  Save your valuable energy for better things like trusting Him.
  3. Our Father in heaven knows what you need. The reasoning is simple.  If He knows (which implies He’s watching out for us) He cares and if He cares, then He will take care of you. 
  4. When you trust Him, “all these things will be added to you.”
  5. Trusting Him doesn’t remove the troubles of today but it gives us a resting place in the midst of the “sufficient anxieties” that are sure to come.


It’s a normal and common experience for us to respond to a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic with worry and anxiety. But the less common choice is the one offered to us by Jesus.  Believe that your heavenly Father knows what you need and will take care of you.  Trust Him with me. 
Agape and Shalom!
Pastor Deric
(on behalf of your staff and elders)