By: Laura Bennett
Over the course of his prolific writing career, Christian author and pastor Max Lucado has captivated the spiritual curiosity of readers – both young and old — and his newest release is no different.
Children of the 90s will remember his hugely popular storybook, You Are Special, which became a staple of kids church sessions and school libraries around the world. And, adult readers have enjoyed titles including Anxious for Nothing, Before Amen and In the Grip of Grace – just a mere taste of the 65+ books Max has written.
Humanity’s Greatest Need for Connection
This year, Max’s attention has turned to issues of isolation and loneliness in his new book, You Are Never Alone.
Written before the pandemic, You Are Never Alone explores how the miracles of Jesus addresses humanity’s greatest need for connection. Going beyond how “not alone we are, in feeling alone”, Max opens up about his own seasons of isolation and how Christ himself confronted loneliness and seclusion.
During an interview from Texas, Max said as a pastor preaching and teaching “is a great testing ground for what people are going through… and this feeling of isolation is something I picked on even before the pandemic. I began thinking, ‘What could I say as a pastor to help people find fellowship with the Creator?’”
It’s no surprise that curbing feelings of isolation and loneliness has been top of mind during the coronavirus crisis, with scientific studies being conducted around the world into its effect on our mental health, and countless psychological resources being provided to help us manage our wellbeing during the outbreak.
Max believes it’s imperative that loneliness isn’t overlooked and, in fact, the conditions for it may be largely of our own making.
Survival of the (Virtual) Fittest?
“Loneliness is the most common expression of people who are battling mental health issues,” Max said. “It often leads to depression, it can be a contributing factor to relationship issues… and this loneliness really takes it toll.”
Max said it’s become such a problem, “I can’t help but think, that we’ve created a world where you can survive virtually”.
“I love technology [but we] can cocoon ourselves, and we fail to be put into those situations where we interact with one another and we really need that interaction; we were made to have eye-to-eye contact, we were made to have flesh-to-flesh contact and we were made to talk to one another,” he said.
During the pandemic our virtual way of life has been amplified and “people are afraid to interact”.
“It’s an eerie strange time in which we live. There’s such a sadness and a flatness as a result of what we’re all going through right now, and I think we’ve really got to reach out and help one another,” Max said.
No One is Immune But Someone Cares
Having confronted times of loneliness in his own life, Max knows none of us are immune from feeling starved of true relationship with other people. Something he experienced through his responsibilities as a leader and – as he shared publicly for the first time – as a result of the shame he felt after a weekend of being sexually abused as an adolescent.
While on a church camp, a male leader, who was overseeing Max and four of his friends, “went through a bottle of whiskey and all the sleeping bags” mistreating each of the boys, and leaving them with a situation they didn’t know how to handle and a trust that was profoundly broken.
“By the time it was time to go home, we were just shame-ridden. We were defeated, we were violated – we were 11 and 12 and didn’t know how to respond, and [the camp leader] said, ‘Don’t tell anyone, no one’s going to believe you anyway’, and so all those lies came into my head,” Max said.
When he returned home, his way of processing it was to have his own private communion service in his kitchen. He found some “potato and milk”, consumed each, and prayed.
“Jesus was there,” Max said.
“He was in that kitchen. And, that moment healed me of what could’ve been some emotional scars. It healed me, and the presence of Christ in that moment has fuelled my faith for many, many years… He met me there. And that’s why I speak with such confidence when I say, ‘Christ will meet you’.
“Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with religion, or with adults, or maybe you’ve had a bad experience with some type of organised approach to spirituality… I have too. But Christ comes into our lives in spite of that, and I urge people to just give Him a chance.”
In the difficulties we’re all experiencing this year, Max says it’s also an opportune time to experience the ever-present nearness of God.
“It’s a difficult season around the world but to be honest I’m doing surprisingly well,” he said.
“I feel like the gospel – the message of God is so vital in a season like this. It’s so vital that I feel like I’ve got a surge of energy like I was made for this. This is the lane to run in. I’m excited to tell people that there’s a good God. That God takes care of us, and He’s going to get us through this.”
Max Lucado’s new book, You Are Never Alone, is available now.
If you or someone you know is struggling or needs a compassionate listening person to talk to, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.
About the Author: Laura is a media professional, broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.