Pastor Tim Smith: These past weeks have taught us how much we should value human interaction and friendship
- Credit: Archant
'I am a rock, I am an island,' wrote the singer-songwriter Paul Simon way way back in 1965.
If you care to listen to it, you'll realise that it's a song that speaks of one person's reaction to having been hurt by love, preferring now to live alone: 'I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain!'
I guess that most of us, particularly if we've been living in isolation for the last couple of months, will struggle to agree with such a sentiment.
Rather, these past weeks have taught us how much we should value human interaction and friendship, and so perhaps we're more inclined to agree with the words of the 17th century poet John Donne, who wrote: 'No man is an island, entire of itself.'
In other words, we need one another.
The Oscar-winning actress Olivia de Havilland - who by the way, is still very much alive today, living in Paris at the grand old age of 103 - recognised this when, during her acceptance speech at the 1947 Academy Awards, she named and thanked a record-breaking 27 people, acknowledging all the encouragement and insight she had received over the years from others, and realising that she would have been unable to achieve such acting success without their collective wisdom and support.
I think the one word title of another song from 1965, this time a chart-topper from the Beatles, sums up why we need, and can't do without, others: 'HELP!' The help of others is frequently needed; giving loved ones our support and wisdom will usually come as a great encouragement to them.
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However, did you know that John Lennon was unhappy with the upbeat tune that particular song of his was given?
He didn't feel it fitted with the serious message he was trying to convey.
And when, in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine 12 months before his horrific killing in New York, Lennon spoke of it, he said: 'When I wrote 'Help!' in 1965 it was hailed as just another advance in rock music. What nobody understood was that it was the cry of my heart which no-one came to answer.'
It seems that when John Lennon asked for help, and his request was put to music, he was seeking far more than simply human assistance.
In 2 Chronicles 20:12 in the Old Testament we read of King Jehoshaphat, who was king of Judah. When his nation faced an invading enemy force that threatened to overwhelm them, this king called all the people together, and led them in a request for God's help, praying,
'We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you'.
And if you read on, you'll see that their prayer is answered as God comes to their aid.
In the New Testament gospels, the Lord Jesus gave help of all sorts, physical and spiritual, on countless occasions, to all kinds of people.
He gave sight to the blind, fed the hungry, healed the sick, forgave the sinful and raised the dead.
On one occasion he transformed the life of a person who no-one else had been able to help.
This out-of-control, demon-possessed man lived naked and wild, the Bible says but after he met Jesus and received divine help, he's described as being 'clothed, in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus'!
'Help' is a universal commodity.
We all have need of it and we all have the God-given capacity to provide it.
And when our cry is for divine intervention, the psalmist reminds us at the beginning of Psalm 121 that such help is freely available...
'I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.'