Noah: Social Distancing Winner
By Abbie Schlie
Noah is my hero. No, really! Most people think of Noah as being on the ark for 40 days and 40 nights, give or take a few weeks for the waters to recede. However, when you start adding up all the time from when the animals first arrived to their disembarkment, you realize that Noah was trapped on the ark with his family for more than an entire year. That’s right. Eight people. 365 days PLUS! No wonder he needed a drink when he got off.
I speculate, though, that Noah was used to not just physically distancing from others, but social distancing too. His forefather Adam had known God personally, but as time went on, the Bible states that the “sons of God were attracted to the daughters of man” (Gen. 6:2). That is to say that God’s chosen (sons of God) were marrying unbelievers (daughters of man). Because of this, those who knew God were led astray by their eyes. Their lack of reverence for God got to the point where they were only filled with wickedness and “every intention was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5).
In Genesis 6:11-12 the word corrupt is used three times in two sentences to describe the condition of the world. Corrupt has its roots in Latin: “co” means “with or together,” and the second part of the word comes from the Latin word for “to break.” In other words, the word corruption means that one has broken trust with others. The world had broken away from God, and into this corruption stepped Noah.
Noah had found favor with God. He was righteous, blameless, and “walked with God.” The last person in Biblical accounts that “walked with God” was Enoch, who never experienced an earthly death since God “took him” directly to Heaven! I would think that being the only person who was righteous on the earth filled with corruption led to a lot of alone time. Noah didn’t have many followers on his list of friends.
Being isolated like Noah takes its toll on mental health. God said during the creation process “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Being separated from others increases the risks of anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, and insomnia. Key stressors of this can be boredom, frustration, limited information, and financial loss. I am sure there are many people in our community who are struggling with these. According to Steve Cole, a researcher from UCLA who studies the effects of loneliness, social connections lead to emotional health and physical health. Being lonely is as dangerous as smoking and worse than obesity. How did Noah combat this? He found his comfort during his daily walks with the Lord.
Jesus Himself knew a thing or two about loneliness. Betrayed by Judas, abandoned by His disciples, and disowned by His close friend Peter, He was left to suffer. The government that should have protected Him sentenced Him to death. The religious leaders who should have heralded His coming condemned Him. The crowds chose a serial murderer and terrorist over Him. Even his heavenly Father was separated from Him as Jesus cried out in a loud voice of pain and loneliness, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46)
Jesus faced the very worst kind loneliness—separation from God—so that we do not have to.
Even in our worst times of quarantine, we are not abandoned. God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and send rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). He does not forsake us; instead, He shows us mercy. Because Jesus took our place, we never have to suffer alone; we have His promise in Matthew 28:20 that He is with us always until the end of the age. We have eternity with Christ and will be able to walk with Him as Noah did forever.
Question for Contemplation: How do I combat isolation or loneliness?
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for suffering the ultimate separation on our behalf so that we do not have to be away from you. When we are lonely, fill our hearts with you. Comfort us and help us to walk with you in the Word each and every day. In your name, Amen.