You’ve been carrying around a COVID bubble for well over a year now. It’s like the old concept of “personal space,” only bigger—a six-foot-radius circle. This bubble is inherently distancing and isolating. Most of us have felt lonely. Some real human needs are not met when we feel alone.
In the 2000 movie “Castaway,” the lead character (Tom Hanks) survives a plane crash at sea and is stranded on a deserted island for four years. By his own ingenuity, he manages to provide himself food, clothing, and shelter for all that time. But his emotional, psychological, relational, and spiritual needs must be met somehow, or he will not survive. He stumbles on a solution by attempting to humanize a volleyball, naming it “Wilson.” By engaging in “conversation” with Wilson, the castaway manages to maintain his sanity in that place of aloneness.
In 1719, Daniel Defoe published the novel “Robinson Crusoe.” Crusoe is also a castaway, sole survivor of a shipwreck. Crusoe finds food and water, builds shelter, eventually must make his own clothing. At last he comes to the point of despair, realizing that he might die on the island, remembered by no one. Then Crusoe finds the real answer to those other, invisible, but very real needs:
“I took out one of the Bibles which I mentioned before, and which to this time I had not found leisure, or so much as inclination, to look into… Only having opened the book casually, the first words that occurred to me were these: ‘Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify me.’
“The words made a great impression upon me, and I mused upon them very often. Before I lay down, I did what I never had done in all my life; I kneeled down, and prayed to God to fulfill the promise to me, that if I called upon him in the day of trouble, he would deliver me.”
Crusoe finds a relationship with God, engaging with the Lord through prayer and Bible reading for many years. Eventually, God provides a human friend (Friday), and still later a return to civilization.
So I ask you, which castaway story rings truer? Which one found his needs met, and was more likely to keep a sound mind through the long ordeal?
As the quarantines and masks become fewer, our COVID bubbles are decreasing to ordinary personal space. We are each gradually being liberated from our isolation. And now it’s time to reflect: How did you survive it? How were your deepest needs met?
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Rev. Brent Juliot is Contributing Editor of Faith & Fellowship magazine and Pastor of Living Hope in Menomonie, WI.