What do people turn to in your local community as a stopgap against isolation, loneliness and despair? What are the idols - those stand ins for God - that folk have come to rely on to dull the pain, block out the dread, and fill the hours?
In our neighbourhoods, regardless of whether they are affluent or deprived, large or small, busy or quiet, if we can’t access basic resources or meaningful places of connection where we can feel valued, we will be tempted to search for solace in harmful ways. Often isolated and unsupported. Ploughing our own lonely furrows.
Idols are man-made things that we give godly power. They’re habits and addictions, patterns of destructive behaviour and obsession - that take life rather than give it. How can we help one another to stand firm?
Forgive us Lord,
that when we want to turn away from isolation, loneliness and despair
we don’t turn to you -
We dull the pains
with rival claims,
on our attention.
Rather than standing together
we stand apart.
Fragmented and fragmentary
subject to boredom, anxiety and other kinds of tyranny,
making idols of compartmentalism and self-sufficiency.
When will we grasp that to endure we have to endure together?
Too many of us live lives untethered.
take my hand,
I’ll help you stand
through pain and hurt,
but you may need to help me up first.
Lord above all,
Break our idols
and their hold over us.
Help us remake the shards into something useful.
1 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,[a] that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.
6 Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’ 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10 And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.