As Hurricane Irma bore down upon us days ago, I found it sobering to hear Emergency Management Officials say, "If you need help during the storm, you're on your own until it's safe for our people to be out." In other words, for this period of time, you're alone. Certainly, some of us had family members or friends huddled with us, but even then, it was a lonely feeling. We can all experience such seasons in life – periods of time where loneliness is our constant companion – and it's painful. Studies have shown that loneliness is part of the same human systemic reaction as hunger and thirst. When essential food is missing, we get hungry; when essential relationships are missing, we get lonely. Unfortunately, our culture is forcing us into patterns of behavior that increase that loneliness. The New York Times recently called it an epidemic. We are losing the important relational connection of face to face relationship and replacing it with a screen – a smart device – and it's not at all the same. If we want to fight those feelings, or help others, it's time to look up from those screens and pay attention to the PEOPLE around us every day.
Last week, I'm out downtown and I run into someone that I know. I am also convinced her name is Susan. I enthusiastically greet her, "Susan! Hey!" She smiles and greets me in return, then says, "You know my name is Beth, right?" Argh. I hate that. Hate, hate, hate it! I hate it because names matter, and while I try hard to remember, I blow it more than I care to admit. A name is a powerful thing. It is history, identity and reputation all rolled into one. For that reason, understanding the names of God is critical. He is not generic "God", but He has named Himself so that we might more fully understand His being, nature, character, and history. That revelation is seen most fully in God made flesh, Jesus Christ. His is the name that is above all names, the only name given to us by which we are saved (Acts 4:12). And unbelievably, our Creator God knows OUR names. It is the answer to our deepest longing: to be known. He knows us fully, calls us by name, and claims us as His own. He never forgets our names, for we "are graven on the palms of HIs hands." (Packer)