Earlier this week I got a Facebook suggestion from Diane Kendall to "like" the Facebook page of an organization called YANA1. For those not familiar with Diane, she is half of the John and Diane Kendall husband-and-wife team that is such a significant and welcome part of the Antrim community, including owning one of my favorite stores, Place in the Woods2. (Not to mention they have some great kids too!)
So…I take any recommendation from Diane or John seriously, whether it be for good running shoes, proper food for our pets, or a Facebook page to check out….
Perhaps you’ve already guessed what the acronym "YANA" stand for…if not…please look at the title of this article again. 🙂 It is a company that was founded last March and expects to launch early this year. The descriptive blurb on it’s Facebook page reads:
YANA’s mission is to inspire you to reach out to others, regardless of what is taking place in their lives (positive or negative), and let them know you care and that they Are Not Alone.3
Sounds pretty benevolent, eh? There isn’t a whole bunch to their page yet, but it has nothing that appears counter to their mission (or that indicates some hidden agenda). Additionally, after "liking" the page I got a nice thank you message from YANA’s owner, Wayne Grover, where he said (in small part), "With everyone’s support we are not just building a company, but a community, a YANA community!" I responded, "Thanks for the personal note Wayne. A friend recommended your page, and it definitely seemed like a good cause, whether or not I feel alone :-)" That resulted in one more bit of correspondence:
Thank you Alan. Most people feel alone during many of life’s experiences, positive or negative. Whether you are running a fortune 500 business, dealing with illness, family death, tough day with kids, quitting smoking or losing weight, having a birthday, becoming an empty nester, going off to college or the military, it’s a holiday….many feel alone and I believe the greatest thing that can happen is for a person or group to reach out and let someone know they care about them, they understand what they are going thru and that they are not alone. Thx for the comment Alan!
Are there any of us that would disagree with Wayne’s thoughts? We’ve all experienced feeling alone (and bad times and good)…seen others feel isolated…and observed how a face can light up when someone says, in one form or another, "I care." Additionally, it is especially comforting when the person who helps us get through it is experiencing (or has experienced) similar circumstances—otherwise groups like Alcoholics Anonymous wouldn’t be nearly as effective as they are. Familiarity with a situation can lead to true empathy…which can fully cement "you are not alone" in a way that is impossible with kind words alone.
In many ways the Bible is one long record of divine "you are not alone" statements. Instead of the theist’s cold view of a God that gave the universe a push and then let the chips fall where they may, we see a being that, from the first, personally cared about the men and women He created in His likeness (see Genesis 1:26-27). Additionally, our Lord didn’t just rely on remote methods of communication—yes, He did speak with a booming voice from on high, use dreams, communicate through prophets, etcetera—but the ultimate source of wisdom was smart enough to know sometimes feeble, emotional humans need more than that…that we:
- Need a God who will seek us out in the Garden when we really blow it (see Genesis 3:8-9).
- Need a God who will walk in the flames with us when we are thrown in the furnace because we stayed true to Him (see Daniel 3:8-30).
- Need a God who will lay His hand on us and tell us to "fear not" when we are overwhelmed by His presence (see Revelation 1:17-18).
Even more, that we need Someone who can "sympathize with our weaknesses" and "who has in every respect been tempted as we are" to give us the "confidence [to] draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16, English Standard Version). God was not satisfied to just stay in the celestial realm and fix things from a distance; instead He gave up His glory to become a servant (Philippians 2:5-7)…and while He was on this earth, just like us, He got tired (John 4:6), got thirsty (John 19:28), and wept (John 11:35). And sure enough, when He was experiencing the greatest pain of His life and his disciples couldn’t keep their eyes open long enough to be there for Him (Mark 14:32-42), His Father knew how much it means not to be alone and sent an angel to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43-44).
There is so much that can be said about the Incarnation; it is, in some respects, inexplicable. What we must not miss in the magnificence and wonder of it all is the "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6) unambiguously stating…
"You are not alone."
Incredible. Bewildering. Awe-inspiring. Astonishing. Overwhelming.
And all the more reason we should join Wayne in telling other people that you care…that they are not alone.
And, like Jesus, actually mean it.